After 4 months of illness, it was about time to get back out with the camera. An Asylum is always a good place to start off a new year.

The county of West Sussex provided its own asylum accommodation following the withdrawal from the union with East Sussex at the Haywards heath asylum in 1893. Graylingwell farm, former home of novelist Anna Sewell of ?Black Beauty? fame and located to the north of the county town, Chichester , was purchased for the purpose of providing a site for the new asylum. The site, east of College Lane stood close to Chichester Barracks in an area later known as Summersdale.

At Graylingwell, the county commissioned well known Sir Arthur Blomfield as architect, in what was to be his sole asylum design. Development at the site was to include main and service drives with attendant lodges, a large chapel, isolation hospital, new farm buildings, detached superintendents residence and compact arrow plan main asylum building. The original farmhouse was retained and converted to accommodate private patients. Principal features of the main building included a distinctive water tower adjacent to the laundry on the female side, administration block to the north, kitchens and large recreation hall in the centre and assistant medical officer’s residence to the south. Either side of the central services stood the female and male blocks (to the east and west respectively), initially consisting of three each side, with further two on the female side and one on the male side being added within a few years of opening. The buildings were constructed in soft red brick with reconstituted stonework ornamentation in classical and Queen Anne styling with much use of ornamental quoins and keystones. The roofing was principally of slate with decorative ventilation outlets. Both lodges differed in the use of render on their upper storeys and the chapel was built in flint with a red tiled roof.

Graylingwell was evacuated for the use of the military for the duration of the First World War and the inmates we redistributed amongst other asylums in the south-east . On return to civilian usage plans were put in place for construction of further buildings. These would provide an admission hospital (Summersdale), nurse’s home(Pinewood), a block for female tuberculosis patients, a female convalescent villa and a villa for female working patients (Richmond and Kingsmead). Construction on this projected started in 1930 and the new structures, designed to compliment the existing building, were opened for use in 1933. With the return of war in 1939, only the admission hospital was requisitioned for emergency military use, but returned with the end of hostilities.

Graylingwell hospital was passed to the National Health Service, on its inception in 1948, by which time its inpatient capacity had exceeded 1,000. Occupational therapy departments were constructed between the chapel and administration block during the 1950’s. Later extensions included the glass-box like Barnfield house to the south west of the main building, extensions to the former male and female acute blocks and changing rooms for the sports ground located to the south of the site.


  • Jenny Forshaw, September 30, 2022 @ 14:51

    My Great Aunt was admitted to Graylingwell in 1937 and remained there until her death in 1956. According to her death notice – the informants were the Night Superintendent -Isabella Alexander and a Nursing Assistant- Minnie Selina Evelyn Gaffney.

  • Bob Platt, March 1, 2022 @ 16:36

    My mother, Rhoda Platt, nee Petrie, was a nurse at Graylingwell pre- and post-war. She trained there and eventually became the senior nurse running the Occupational and Industrial Therapy units. The industrial therapy unit was created as part of a programme to prepare institutionalised patients for life in the outside world as new treatments made it possible for patients to return to normal life. The success of the programme is demonstrated by the fact that we do not need huge mental hospitals like Graylingwell any more.

  • ralph beard, September 28, 2021 @ 15:10

    I have car badge for the Graylingwell Motor Club if anyone interested. Ralph

  • Dr Glenford Bishop, December 22, 2020 @ 16:46

    The cafe mentioned was called the ‘Naunton Pavillion’ during the time I was at Graylingwell heading up Occupational Therapy and Industrial Therapy 1986 to 1990. Yes it is sad to see these images. For all its faults it did its best for people in the culture of the times that it operated.

  • Jade, September 10, 2020 @ 01:41

    My nanny worked here 😀 margaret Donovan.

  • Mark, November 25, 2019 @ 12:54

    For anyone who remembers him Ronald George Byles who was a gardener all of his life recently passed away, he also did a bit of cleaning around the wards at times and would have been very familier with what is in the photos here.

  • tumbles, December 18, 2018 @ 18:39

    These are all my own photos, is that not obvious!?

  • marina jankovic, December 18, 2018 @ 17:08

    anyone know who took these photos?

  • tumbles, November 27, 2017 @ 20:13

    Have a look at a site I co-write – – it has info on the local archives for each asylum

  • tumbles, November 27, 2017 @ 20:13

    No I just haven’t got around to approving the comments, nothing sinister.

  • Mary Cantwell, November 26, 2017 @ 17:08

    My aunt left Ireland to work nursing in England in the 50’s. Her address from old letters (1952 and 1954) leads me to think she may have worked in Graylingwell. I would love to know if there is a record anywhere of those nurses who worked in Graylingwell in the 50’s. I’d be most grateful for any information. Thank you.

  • A Fogotten Soul, November 20, 2017 @ 10:30

    Hi Tumbles, I have noted that you have not added my comment made last weekend. Why is this? Is it because I was a former patient? Is it for this reason you have denied me a voice?

  • A Forgotten Soul, November 18, 2017 @ 10:47

    I was an in-patient at Graylingwell in 1989. Dr MB Matthews was my psychiatrist. Part of me still is at Graylingwell. Dr Jane Holden, a Registrar, was one of the good ones. I hope you are OK, Caroline & Innes. Do you still have your Rottweilers?

  • jeanette shindo, April 17, 2017 @ 19:59

    Anyone remember the name of the porta cabin patient and relatives café that was in the grounds of Graylingwell? Looking at the photo’s I had a trip down memory lane to when I visited my Uncle there with my Grandmother. I remember the café, because it was the most safe feeling of the buildings (was only about 5 at time of visiting. some recollection of it strting with a ‘V’. ?The Vernon, or something like that .Would love to remember.

  • Carlos Romero, April 16, 2017 @ 12:04

    I was a nurse in Graylingwell Hospital from April 1974 till January 1981 and I have lots of fond memories from my work and life there. It saddens me to see it in ruins and cannibalized into redevelopment.

  • tumbles, January 30, 2017 @ 08:57

    No its converted.

  • Shannon, January 27, 2017 @ 16:44

    Is this place still standing?? If not any ideas what places are in the UK that are abandoned, no security and easy access to? Thanks x

  • Chris Gunn, March 12, 2016 @ 14:02

    My name is Chris Gunn and I was the very last Cadet Nurse at Graylingwel starting February 23rd 1970. I passed my RMN and moved to a Scottish Psychiatric Hospital (now also abandoned) trained as a General Nurse then as a Paramedic and worked all over the world retiring in 2012 after being a Registered Nurse in the Northern Territory and Western Australia, Norway and the southern states of America.
    The photo’s of these ruined buildings make me want to weep as they were good places to work and the patients received a far higher degree of care than in the modern facilities.

  • Margaret Minihane, July 2, 2014 @ 19:07

    My 3 aunt’s the Treacy sisters: Kathleen, Margaret and Bridget, left Ireland in the 50’s and went to Graylingwell for nursing – we don’t know too much of that time as two of them have since passed, but anyone that may have info about that time, we would greatly appreciate it.

  • Barone Hopper, January 8, 2013 @ 15:39

    I was working with Graylingwell Hospital, and in the surrounding community, for over thirty years. As part of my Social History of the Mental Health Service, I have produced a set of books. Volume 1, Better Court Than Coroners, is lavishly illustrated with pictures from Graylingwell’s past and present, including photos relating to the demolition work in 2011.

    Further details can be seen on my website,, as well as sample PDF extracts.

  • Dave Buchan, March 6, 2012 @ 20:50

    I’m sure photograph #15 is the front stairs to Cedar House, above the staff canteen. I lived there for over three years as a student during the late ’80’s. These images make me want to weep …

  • tumbles, January 7, 2011 @ 17:00

    Thanks, I live in Bristol hence the amount of photos related to the area. I’ll have a look at those places – thanks.

  • Ed Bateman, January 6, 2011 @ 21:07

    Hi. Nice to see a new post. Sorry you’ve been ill and glad your well now. Good photos as usual.

    I notice that you visited the Bristol area a lot in previous posts. I don’t know if the recently closed Blackberry Hill Hospital is worth a look. Speedwell Swimming baths might be worth a look if you can get in.

    Keep posting 🙂

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