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Warley Hospital

In this old map of Brentwood (around 1900), one of the largest developments marked is Essex County Lunatic Asylum. Yes folks, nutters from all over the county were locked up in Brentwood.

Essex Lunatic Asylum map


This massive Victorian Gothic building with extensive landscaped gardens was built on land purchased for £8000 from Brentwood Hall Estate and opened on 23 September 1853 to house 450 patients.

The names for the institution changed from County Lunatic Asylum to Brentwood Mental Hospital in 1920.


A 1953 centenary commemorative booklet, printed by patients in the occupational therapy department states:

Although not legally abandoned until the Mental Treatment Act of 1930, the name 'Asylum' was dropped from 1920 onwards and the term 'Mental Hospital' used with its indication of a more hopeful outlook in the care and treatment of the insane.

Warley Hospital

In 1953, although still a long-stay psychiatric institution, it was renamed 'Warley Hospital'. As part of the NHS cutbacks it was run down and eventually closed by 2000, so that it could be sold off to property developers to make massive profits. Meanwhile homeless and hopeless schizophrenics roam the streets as part of the "Care in the Community" approach to mental health.

The new estate that's been built on the site of the old County Lunatic Asylum is now called 'Clements Park, Warley'. It is supposedly a stylish new luxury development but it’s pretty horrible – towering walls of bright red brick, tiny slit windows like in some besieged fortress. There’s already been a murder in one of the flats within a year of it being built. I wonder about all the generations of poor demented and possessed souls who suffered the pain and anguish of mental hell in their life in the asylum, and who died on the very site of Clements Park Estate. Would their tormented ghosts invade your dreams as you slept in your luxury apartment?

The property developers don't mention the real history. Prospective buyers are lured with words like
"Clements Park, in the picturesque village of Warley is situated within beautiful mature parkland which once formed part of the prestigious Brentwood Hall Estate."
Funny that, no mention of the Lunatic Asylum.

Personally, I'd have to be insane before I'd agree to live there.