A solo explore around an abandoned lunatic asylum … what could possibly go wrong!
Built in 1872, and in use until 1993, the Chartham Lunatic Asylum began as an asylum for the mentally ill and was spread over 120 acres and housed 800 patients. The hospital more or less became its own self-contained village, with its own farm, workshops, baker, butcher, fire-brigade, church, graveyard, gasworks, cricket team, band, etc. Male patients worked on the farm, while female patients worked in the laundry or as seamstresses.
Post war in 1948, the asylum was renamed to St. Augustines Hospital, housing by this stage almost 2000 patients and the grounds spreading over 300 acres of Kent countryside. This continued until the 1970s, where reports of patient abuse and malpractice began to surface, particularly the cavalier usage of electro-convulsive therapy.
In 1993 the hospital was closed and by 1997, a majority of the larger buildings – such as water tower, administration building etc – were converted into housing on the newly renamed St. Augustine Estate. Other buildings were demolished with new apartments designed to the same sympathetic architecture of the converted buildings built in their place.
I found myself in the UK after a week long conference and after visiting some friends in Kent, I swung by here on the way back to the airport. Information was sketchy, and the photos from 5 years ago showed a trashed building, so my hopes weren’t high. For some reason, there is a small number of buildings that haven’t been converted or demolished and after walking around a pushed over temporary fence, I entered the building. As expected, most of the building was trashed, with collapsed roofs and trees growing in amongst the furniture. After a quick mooch around, which is all I had time for, the rain set in with a torrential downpour soaking me while standing in the middle of an office. Bizarre.