Home / Asylums / Pen-y-Fal Hospital, Abergavenny

Pen-y-Fal Hospital, Abergavenny

Stopped for a quick look at the converted The Monmouthshire County Asylum, formerly known as the Joint Counties Asylum for Monmouthshire, Herefordshire, Radnorshire and Breconshire. Founded in 1846 it finally closed in 1996 before it was converted. Only the main building remains but it is wonderfully converted. The chapel sits empty like so many other converted sites.

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  1. I think there must have been some mind problems on one side of my family – Two of my great-grandather’s siblings were admitted, and died, at the Abergavenny asylum, although 35 years separate their deaths… James Whittingham died there in 1906 and his sister Mary Jane Walker in 1941. The hospital and many like it closed down long ago. Now it’s all about “care in the community” – a bit of a cop-out, if you ask me. Financially driven, no doubt. I used to live next door to a chap who suffered from schizophrenia. If he stopped taking his medication he got very ill and after the police broke down his door, they put him in a car and took him to a rehabilitation home. Some times he’d be gone for months. Whatever we think about mental hospitals at least the patients were getting much closer supervision, 24/7. Now it seems they have to care for themselves, on their own like my neighbour was. Does anyone have any old photos of the Abergavenny hospital, from about 1906 and 1941?

  2. I have a relative that died in the Lunatic Asylum in Abergavenny on the 22nd December 1914. Her name was Mary Jane McVicker and I would love to get some information about her and perhaps her family if anyone can tell me how to go about this.

  3. Shaun heffernan

    I worked there from 1979 until 1991 . There were some wonderful characters living there and let me put your minds at rest every person who lived there was looked after and treated with the utmost respect . My late mother also worked there for in her early years in the days when the medication was not as good as it is today . When i first started my job She reminded me that it was ok to laugh with the patients but never to laugh at them !!! She would tell me stories that would make your hair stand on end but make you laugh at the same time . I loved working there it was home from home to me . There was some very talented people there from singers to piano players every day someone would be playing the Grand piano in the main hall and there was always a singer to accompany them with a wonderful baritone voice . It was like a town within a town they wanted for nothing they had everything from hairdressers to a bar where they could have a drink the latest films were shown once a week.The older charge nurses made sure of that They were wonderful . As for the lady who was wondering what the chimneys were for. Before they turned over to gas the boilers that heated the hospital were coal fired that in turn created the steam . There was also a furnace which before the days of pollution was used to burn the rubbish .( Nothing sinister i can assure you ) . I could talk all day about the best place i have ever worked it was wonderful place with wonderful people staff and residents alike . If i could i would live it all over again only this time i would take more pictures and video’s so everyone could see how great it was . As for tormented spirit’s i don’t think so, tormented sometimes when alive maybe !!! But i know for a fact there was one i had an encounter with on two occasions who was very mischievous ( pinching my bum on both !!!)

  4. Bernard WOODLAND

    My grandmpther was admitted to the hospital between 1919-1923 when she died,she left two children behind my father & his sister, my cousins and I are trying to find out
    1/ where she was buried. 2/when she was admitted & for what. 3/who looked after our parents. Sadly our grandfather was killed in France 1915. I have found the comments
    & information by others very interesting & helpful.

  5. My grandmother was put in the asylum in 1925. She died there in the 1950s. I did not know I had a living grandmother until quite recently . She died when I was about 11 years old. I still do not know why she was there. She was married and had her fourth child shortly before being put away. Family members have tried to access the records but have been denied them. What are they trying to hide? was she away for post natal depression? was she depressed, what happened to her? none of her generation remain alive. i think we should be allowed access to these records.

  6. There are still 3 asylums operating in South Wales and to be honnest perhaps keeping a few more of them wasn’t such a bad idea as care in the community doesn’t always have its place.

  7. Having visited Pen-y-Fal yesterday, I was amazed at the size of it. On getting home I looked it up on the Internet and that’s how I found all of the comments. An amazing building (and to think it was originally like a village!) but who’s history is so full of sadness. I live in an old property and Katie I can understand your experience 100%. I was lucky enough to know somebody who was able to clear the trapped spirits there must be many lost soles in that Pen-y-Fan(not everyone is able to pick up on spirits. ) personally I think it has a sad history and thank goodness we don’t have asylums any more

  8. hi Judith I see you worked with a patient at pen y fal hosp did you know my aunt doris cox ? she was at pen y fal from 1974 until the eighties when she died there
    im trying to find someone maybe staff who may have knew her ?

  9. Hi Phil

    I worked with Frank in the early to mid eighties, he was a very quiet chap with an enigmatic smile. He loved nothing more than sitting with a piece of paper and a pencil, he was a very talented artist who spent days on each picture paint great attention to each tiny detail

  10. The Asylum Records are held at

    Gwent Archives
    Steelworks Road
    Ebbw Vale
    Blaenau Gwent
    NP23 6DN

    Telephone Enquiries

    01495 353363

    I don’t know if there is any closure period on individual records but I have the records for my great great grandfather who died there in 1879. They include when he was, admitted, by whom and why along with details of his medical records.

  11. Frank Frederick Cross was my uncle (my mothers brother). Born in 1905 in Birmingham, he moved to Rogerstone , Mon. at the age of about 2 yrs. Having lost his elder brother in WW1 when he (Frank) was just 13 yrs. old, he then lost his mother, Eleanor Cross when he was 17. Frank also had four sisters and a younger brother,all of whom had left home except one, the youngest sister, by the time his mother had died. It seems that Charles Cross, Franks father was left with a young girl to look after whilst Frank was virtually left to roam the streets.
    For whatever the reason, Frank was subsequently committed to Abergavenny Asylum in his late teens. He remained there and later at Pen-y-Fal until he died aged 89 in 1994.
    As was often the case in those days, none of the family ever spoke of him or refused to discuss him since it was regarded as a great stigma.
    I have been unable to find any records of Frank during his incarceration; I do not know who committed him or why; or if anyone ever visited him.
    What I do know is that he was an extremely talented artist and I have about a dozen quite amazing drawings which he did as a young man; he was also a talented musician and played several musical instruments. I also have a small wooden shield commemorating the Investiture of the Prince of Wales which was awarded to Frank for “winning something” in 1969 whilst in Abergavenny.
    When Frank died it was arranged that he should be buried in the churchyard of St. Johns Church in Rogerstone; I believe this was arranged by his youngest sister. I have been told that he was so well thought of that several of the hospital staff who had cared for him attended his funeral. ……, though no relatives were there! Ironically, Franks grave is at the opposite end of the churchyard to that where his parents are both buried.
    I only discovered all this in the last year since studying my ancestry. I have visited his grave several times; this man I never knew and have no idea what he even looked like. How I would love to find someone, anyone who might have cared for him; who could tell me more about him and possibly, even have a photograph of him. Possibly ex-staff of Pen-y-Fal. I have been in touch with the Archives Office in Ebbw Vale and all they can tell me is that his records are probably lost or destroyed.
    How sad it all is. Can anyone help?
    Phil Redding.

  12. Hi, I was born in Pen-y-fal hospital in 1951 i am looking for others who were born in Pen-y-fal to hear about their experiences it would be lovely to chat to them. Remember that their is no stigma today. Anyone out there please get in touch…

  13. My Grandfather Henry Mullins was placed in Pen-Y Fal because he fell down the hold on a ship. He died in 1935 and it wasn’t until later my Grandmother found this out! I went to the county records office but his records are closed for about another 20 years & I could be dead by then!
    Henry was buried in the woods, so when my Mum died she was cremated and we bought her ashes there and placed them very near the monument that stands. She is under the gravestone (not hers) to the right of the monument!
    I love these photos that are posted, thanks for sharing them.

  14. hi rob im also trying to find out info on my aunt ive found a number for gwent archives
    01495353363 hope it is of some help

  15. Hi,
    can anyone please help. i would like to Find if possible the (Patients Records)
    for Pen-y-Fal Hospital, Abergavenny – i,e – Patient Names, – Dates Incarcerated, etc.. Does anyone know where i can access this information.? Reason i ask, i want to find out about a Cousin of My Late Dad, She was put there for something i believe was a Minor incident.Sadly she died there in 1956. My Late Mum went to visit her when we were very young, and the story goes my Mum came home crying and Very Sad, as my Dads cousin begged my Mum to take her home. there’s a lot more i could say, but for now, please if you can Guide me to what i would like to Research, about her. God Bless her always. Rob

  16. I live on the grounds of the hospital in the town houses and I’m very interested in the history of the hospital. I’ve been scouring the Internet for information and photos of what it used to look like. To my amazement it was huge. Not only was it the converted building but from looking at a aerial photo it was like a village. I was shocked by the amount of buildings!! I noticed that there was chimneys?? What were they incinerating??? Also there is now a monument remembering the 3000 patience who died between 1850 and 1950. Where were they originally buried?? If they were buried ? In those days u were put in the asylum for the littlest things so I can’t imagine that they were buried with much care and attention. Any info is more than welcome.

  17. Since my last comment in August the Residents’ Association has raised sufficient funds during the Jubilee celebrations to pay for a commemorative tree to be planted in the garden.
    This was done on 25th November. A 14ft Oak Tree planted by the oldest and youngest person living on the private development. There are still no ghosts and it is still a happy place to live.

  18. my aunt was a patient at pen y fal hosp for a number of years as a teenager i visted everymonth from bristol each time i visted she was moved to a different ward ?lasttime i saw her she was on a ward called m9a?her name was doris may cox any nurses who worked there remember her ? please get in touch

  19. My wife and I bought our apartment in the old hospital building some 10 years ago. We had some reservations about the history of the building and wondered if we would feel a sense of sadness here. I am delighted to say that it is a very happy place to live with no sad memories. the refurbishment was carried out with some consideration for the history of the place and in keeping with the listed status. We are a very active community with a Residents’ Association that has been a great help to all. The help that is given to neighbour by neighbour is tremendous and we look forward to remaining here for some time to come. We appreciate that many bad and sad things will have happened here but the will have been typical of the time. There are no ghosts or strange things happening. remember the contractors came mainly from cardiff via Redrow and they normally do not venture anywhere North of caerphilly mountain or they get lost.

  20. I did my triaining in Penyfal and yes children were born there their crime was that their Mum was umarried. When I did my trianing they were around about aged 50 nd had never known anything else but the hospital. Im not suprised it is haunted as it housed such tormented minds

  21. i lived in the lodge for over a year that was long enough! the things i seen and heard i wouldnt want to wish upon anyone. doors slamming footsteps running across the floors children crying, the upstairs door slamming closed on me while trying to enter the bedroom i would lie awake for hours listening out for the next thing to happen in floods of tears begging them to go away. no one would stay at the house with me until one night i cracked and booked in to a hotel then left the house altogether i wish who ever lives at this house all tha best because you will need it

  22. i worked on the renovation of pen y fal for redrow homes a couple of years ago and on new homes surrounding the main hospital , there were a lot of different trades and labourers that used to chat about strange things going on like the time some guys were working in the grounds and heard some children playing and laughing on the other side of one of the stone walls this continued for some time so one of the guys went over to see what they were doing there on his inspection there were no children to be seen , occurances like this was quite common at the time , my mother worked there in the eighties and i remember her saying that children were born there and lived there with their mothers and that it was haunted ??????????

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