St Mary's Asylum, Stannington.
Hidden away in the scenic countryside of Durham, St Mary's Asylum was originally known as the Gateshead Borough Lunatic Asylum. Work began on the Asylum in 1910 and lasted 4 years until its completion in 1914 when it opened its doors to patients. Shortly after opening the military took possession of the hospital throughout WW1, subsequently the hospital was returned to the borough after the war.
The Hospital was co-designed by prolific Asylum architects George Thomas Hine (FRIBA) and Hallam Carter Pegg . The pair co-ran a firm which went under the name of GT.Hine & Pegg and St Mary's was designed following a compact arrow plan. At the time of design GT Hine was the Chief Consultant architect to the Commissioners in Lunacy, he died 2 years after completing St Mary's in 1916.
The quiet rural village of Stannington was home to another hospital named Philipson's Colony. Situated a mile or so from St Mary's it served as a Tuberculosis hospital for Children and was the 1st to be built in the country for this purpose. The TB hospital was demolished several years ago but evidence can still be seen of it since the old Boiler house was left standing alone amidst a forest of pine trees.
The hospital grounds are so isolated that they have retained all of their natural beauty and the landscape is one of the most untouched and beautiful that I have visited. This scenery would have been one of the key deciding factors in locating the hospital here. Shelter Pavilions are dotted around the gardens and the buzz of nature enhances the tranquil calm experienced when walking around. It is a wonderful spot enjoyed by local dog walkers and children alike and it would be such a crime for this land to be bulldozed and built on. The site is now Grade II listed and I can only hope that this will be reflected in a sympathetic re-development. Sadly, St Mary's was to be the last asylum that GT. Hine would ever design in his lifetime. The hospital closed in 1995, but not before a total collapse of the boiler house chimney. Evidence of this design flaw can still be observed as a large pile of rubble that graces the base of the water tower.
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