St. Lawrences Hospital

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St. Lawrences Hospital
Current Status Active
Building Style Pavilion Plan
Location Caterham, Cornwall
Alternate Names
  • Cornwall County Lunatic Asylum
  • Caterham Asylum
  • Caterham Mental Hospital


Caterham Asylum was opened on 9 October 1870, one week after the opening of Leavesden Asylum. Both Asylums were built and run by the recently constituted Metropolitan Asylums Board for the care of "insane paupers" who were "such harmless persons of the chronic or imbecile class as could lawfully be detained in a workhouse". "Dangerous or curable" patients were to be sent to the county lunatic asylums. At first children were admitted along with adults, but from 1873 the children were sent to Darenth Training Colony. However, both Caterham and Leavesden were soon full to capacity. In 1903, a further Asylum was built at Tooting Bec.

From 1913 the Metropolitan Asylums Board became officially responsible for many mentally defective children (under the Mental Deficiency Act, 1913). Caterham received untrainable boys over the age of 8 when they left the Fountain Mental Hospital, Tooting, as well as other children such as semi-educable ones not up to the standard of Darenth Training Colony. Caterham had a large proportion of older patients and many who had been there a long time who had little chance of recovery. By 1930, the hospital had 2068 beds.

After 1930 Caterham Asylum, known as Caterham Mental Hospital since 1920, was run by the London County Council. In 1941 it was renamed Saint Lawrence's Hospital. During World War II, 494 beds at Caterham were set aside for Caterham Emergency Hospital taking in civilians and military casualties.

In 1948 Saint Lawrence's Hospital was taken over by the South West Metropolitan Regional Board who administered the hospital until 1974. Under NHS reorganisation the hospital was administered by the South West Thames Regional Health Authority. Between 1974 and 1982 it was in the Croydon Area Health Authority; in 1982 it became part of the Croydon District Health Authority. In April 1991 Saint Lawrence's Hospital became part of Lifecare NHS Trust.