The Silent Halls of Severalls: Inside an Abandoned Mental Hospital

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
May 30 2014 12:47 PM

The Silent Halls of Severalls: Inside an Abandoned Mental Hospital

Atlas Obscura on Slate is a blog about the world's hidden wonders. Like us on Facebook, Tumblr, or follow us on Twitter @atlasobscura.

These dilapidated halls are part of Severalls Hospital, a psychiatric institution in Colchester, England, that opened in 1913.

Up to 2,000 patients at a time lived at Severalls. During the hospital's early days, the intake criteria were rather warped: some women ended up confined to the wards for being raped or having an illegitimate child.

Advertisement

Severalls was also a place for experiments in mental health treatment. Electro-convulsive therapy gained favor in the late 1940s, with lobotomies following in the early '50s.

World War II had a marked impact on the hospital—in the early hours of August 11, 1942, bombing from a German air raid killed 38 patients in the women's ward.

The '60s saw dramatic changes to the hospital's policies and procedures in the wake of new attitudes toward mental health. Drugs replaced straitjackets and patients were allowed to participate in arts, crafts, and industrial programs.

Declining admission numbers over the following decades spelled the end for Severalls. The last psychiatric patients left the hospital in the mid-'90s. After briefly housing elderly patients from Colchester General Hospital, Severalls shut its doors for good in 1997.

Some of the Severalls buildings have since been demolished. Others have succumbed to arson attacks. But many of the structures remain intact behind the fences and "No Trespassing" signs. Their peeling paint, encroaching vines, and heavy history are a tantalizing combination for urban explorers.

Other abandoned psychiatric hospitals:


View Severalls Hospital in a larger map

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 11:40 AM The U.S. Has Spent $7 Billion Fighting the War on Drugs in Afghanistan. It Hasn’t Worked. 
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 21 2014 11:27 AM There Is Now a Real-life Hoverboard You Can Preorder for $10,000
  Life
Quora
Oct. 21 2014 11:37 AM What Was It Like to Work at the Original Napster?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 11:34 AM Germans Really Are More Punctual. Just Ask Angela Merkel.
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 21 2014 10:43 AM Social Networking Didn’t Start at Harvard It really began at a girls’ reform school.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 21 2014 7:00 AM Watch the Moon Eat the Sun: The Partial Solar Eclipse on Thursday, Oct. 23
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.