Manor Hospital

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Manor Hospital
Established 1897
Opened 1899
Closed 1996
Current Status Closed
Building Style Corridor Plan
Architect(s) William Clifford Smith
Location Epsom, Surrey
Alternate Names
  • Sixth London County Asylum
  • Manor Certified Institution


The first of the Epsom cluster to open on the Horton Manor estate, bought by the LCC in 1896, was the Manor Asylum. Building work had commenced on the Horton Asylum but, to relieve pressure on bed accommodation in the other London County asylums, a temporary asylum was built around the Horton Manor House to house 700 harmless chronic female patients. The Manor Asylum opened in 1899. The red brick manor house was used for the administration offices, with similarly styled buildings built for staff quarters. The storerooms, kitchens and laundry were also built from red brick, with curved gables and slate roofs. Porter's lodges were built at the entrances on Horton Lane and Christchurch Road. The patients lived in temporary single-storey pavilions made from wood and corrugated iron. These ward blocks were arranged around side corridors arising from the main corridor. Further temporary pavilions were built to the north of the manor house; one of these served as a chapel. An isolation hospital was built in the southwest part of the site and a farm bordering Horton Lane provided work for the patients (and produce for the Asylum).

In 1901 accommodation was added to the site for 100 male patients, who would provide manual labour for the Central Pumping and Power Station across Horton Lane to the west. Escapes from mental hospitals were rare - of the 14 men who absconded, only seven were successful. Women rarely absconded. In 1907 a female patient escaped and was apprehended by Matron, who had chased her down Epsom High Street on a bicycle. Matron returned triumphantly to the Asylum in a cab with her retrieved runaway, her bicycle stashed on top. By 1909 ten permanent brick buildings had been added to the Asylum.

During WW1 the Asylum became the Manor (County of London) War Hospital, taken over by the Army Council in 1916. It was emptied of mental patients and the accommodation was used by wounded and sick soldiers. It had 1170 beds, of which 500 were for malaria cases.

Following the war many British servicemen who had served abroad in the Tropics returned home with malaria. In southeast England the infection was transmitted to local mosquitoes, with over 500 cases of indigenous malaria occuring in several counties, especially Kent and Essex. A special laboratory was set up at the Manor War Hospital to deal with the problem, under the control of Lt.-Col. Sydney Price James (1870-1946) of the Indian Medical Service. Sir Ronald Ross (1857-1932), who had received the Nobel Prize for discovering mosquitoes were the vector for malaria, was a frequent visitor to the laboratory. The outbreaks of malaria were successfully dealt with and ceased in 1921.

After West Park Hospital had opened in 1921, the mentally ill patients were transferred there from the Manor War Hospital and it became designated The Manor, a Certified Institution for Mental Defectives. The new patients continued to provide labour. Workshops enabled them to learn skills; they made brushes, shoes, baskets and clothing, and learned carpentry and sewing. They worked in the wards, kitchens, gardens and on the farm, helping to maintain the self-sufficiency of the Institution. Surplus products were sold to other institutions.

In 1922 Lt.-Col. James began to treat patients suffering from general paralysis of the insane (GPI), a disease caused by syphilitic invasion of the central nervous system, using malaria therapy. Initially malaria fever had been induced by injection of infected blood, but the Ministry of Health had decided that, as far as possible, the fever should be transmitted by the bites of mosquitoes. However, pilot studies at Cane Hill and Claybury Hospitals found that , in 1925 the malaria laboratory found that there was a strong risk that malaria could spread between patients. Therefore, the laboratory moved to the isolation ward block of the neighbouring Horton Hospital, where a specialist treatment centre and 'mosquito farm' was established.

In the 1930s Horton Lodge, a large mansion on Christchurch Road, was purchased by the LCC as an annexe for the Manor and West Park Hospitals. It was renamed Hollywood Lodge, to avoid confusion with Horton Hospital. Part of the Central Pumping and Power Station was converted as detached accommodation and named 'Sherwood'. In 1938 The Manor had 1292 beds.

During WW2, the Hospital suffered some bomb damage. It joined the NHS in 1948, caring for moderately mentally handicapped young adults and disturbed adolescents. It gained an international reputation in the field of industrial and behaviour therapy. In 1951 it had 1417 beds. In 1960 it had 1200 beds.

In 1971 it had 1067 beds, 25 of which were secure beds in locked wards. By this time the state of the temporary pavilions was causing concern. Built with a life expectancy of 15 years, they were still in use 70 years later. During the 1970s the Hospital was redeveloped and large single-storey red brick bungalow units with flat roofs were built on the eastern part of the site. The temporary 'huts' were demolished. In 1973 the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Banstead Woods became a satellite of the Hospital. In 1975 the isolation hospital was demolished and new staff housing built on the site. The Hospital by this time had 1042 beds, including those in Hollywood Lodge, Sherwood, Aldingbourne House (a 60-bed unit near Chichester where patients would be sent for seaside holidays), Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Elizabeth House (a former Nurses' Home converted into a hostel for 55 patients working in the community). In 1979, now under the control of the Mid-Surrey Health District, it had 800 beds for mentally handicapped adults and children.

Following government policy of integrating patients into the community, the Hospital gradually emptied as patients were found alternative accommodation. In 1985 it had 621 beds, but by 1990 only 454. The thriving market garden run by the patients became more difficult to maintain, but continued to sell plants to the public from specially converted barns. The Hospital finally closed in 1996.