Manchester Royal Lunatic Asylum

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Manchester Royal Lunatic Asylum
Established 1763
Construction Began 1847
Construction Ended 1849
Opened 1849 (second location)
Current Status Active
Building Style Corridor Plan
Architect(s) Richard Lane
Location Cheadle, Cheshire
Alternate Names
  • Manchester Royal Hospital for the Insane
  • Cheadle Royal Hospital
  • Priory Hospital Cheadle Royal (current)


The Manchester Royal Hospital for the Insane, later the Cheadle Royal Hospital, was built 1847-9 and opened in 1849, to replace the former hospital site in the centre of Manchester built in the 1760s. In the circular letter notifying the medical profession of its opening, it is noted that 'the buildings have been erected and the grounds laid out with special reference to the most approved methods of treatment, at an expense of about £25,000'. The architect was Richard Lane, architect and surveyor to the Asylum Committee, and winner of the competition for the design of the new hospital. It was intended for the middle and upper classes, and, unlike pauper asylums, accepted voluntary patients, being the first asylum to do so. The building was extended several times later in the 19th century.

Cheadle Hospital is described in the 1850s (Conolly 1856) as being one of several new asylums where: 'One of the chief of the indirect remedial means of treating mental disease is a cheerful, well-arranged building, in a well-selected situation, with spacious grounds for husbandry, and gardening, and exercise'. As built the hospital had thirty acres of meadow and eleven of arable land, two-and-a-half acres of kitchen garden, and five acres of flower gardens with avenues, shrubberies and gravelled walks. As part of their cure patients were involved with planting and improvements to the grounds, as well as using them for exercise and outdoor amusements including bowls and cricket.

A description of the site in the 1930s reads: 'The grounds of the Hospital extend to 280 acres and protect it entirely from being closely surrounded by new building schemes. They are well-wooded, with numerous shrubberies, and flower and rock gardens. A very large part of the estate is laid out specially for recreation and amusement, for cricket, tennis, and bowls. There are also lawns for croquet and a putting green. Cricket matches, on a ground large enough for any county match, take place twice weekly during the summer, and two hard shale courts enable tennis to be played throughout the year. Golf may be had within a short distance of the Hospital. There are many pleasant walks in the grounds themselves, and in the quiet surrounding country.' (Brockbank 1934).

The grounds, in the 1930s run by a staff of twenty, have been reduced by peripheral housing development during the 20th century, and further hospital buildings have been constructed. The site remains in use as a privately operated psychiatric hospital.