Leicestershire Lunatic Asylum

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Leicestershire Lunatic Asylum
Opened 1837
Closed 1908
Current Status Preserved
Building Style Corridor Plan
Architect(s) William Parsons
Location Leicester
Alternate Names
  • Leicestershire & Rutland Lunatic Asylum


The first County asylum was opened in 1837. It was named the Leicestershire Lunatic Asylum, and was renamed the Leicestershire & Rutland Lunatic Asylum in 1849. The building, designed by local architect William Parsons, was situated in the countryside near to what is now Leicester’s Victoria Park. This is how ‘The Committee of Visitors’ (or asylum inspectors) described the location:

“Placed on an eminence, and commanding one of the most beautiful views in the County of Leicester, extending over the valley of the Soar and bounded by the Hills of Charnwood Forest, there is everything in its position to soothe and cheer patients...”

The asylum opened with space for 104 patients. In 1849, The Leicestershire & Rutland Lunatic Asylum Rules for The General Management of the Institution clearly stated an intention “to make this Asylum a HOUSE OF CURE, and not a HOUSE OF DETENTION.” Quote from the Superintendent’s Journal, 1885 “...in the afternoon not one male patient was in bed, in the wards, or even the airing courts – That is every individual male patient was free & beyond lock & key – and it may be doubted whether this ever occurred before in any Asylum.”

The asylum existed for over six decades; and by the time this first site closed in 1908, it had expanded into a complex of buildings, and had provided for over 7,000 patients. The site of the 1st County asylum is now the main campus of the University of Leicester. It has been massively developed; but the bulk of the asylum’s original central building still survives, and is now the University’s main administration block, known as the Fielding Johnson Building. The house of the asylum’s Superintendent also survives, and is now known as College House.