*Chapter 7 of Juliet Nicolson’s The Perfect Summer, 1911 (2006)
“On 17 July most of the country was perspiring in eighty-degree temperatures. It became too hot to work after midday, so the managers of the cotton mills and stone quarries in Clitheroe decided to shut down in the middle of the afternoon. To compensate for lost hours, the quarry men’s day would now begin at first light, 4.30 a.m. The managers were delighted that the Daylight Savings Bill had not yet been made law, so they were able to take advantage of the early dawn. On the same day, a man walking six miles along the road between Romford and Brentwood in Essex was spotted hatless and shoeless about halfway along his route, at Harold Wood. He then threw his coat (still containing his wallet) and waistcoat over a hedge, and by the time he reached Brentwood two hours later he was stark naked. Incoherent from the heat, he was carried to the local police station, where he was certified insane by a local doctor and admitted immediately to the Brentwood asylum for lunatics. The weather was having its effect on the ordinary Englishman. The Times began to run a regular column under the heading “Deaths From Heat”. And the weathermen forecast that temperatures would continue to rise.”
“A site was identified within the Brentwood Hall Estate for the construction of an asylum. The asylum was designed by Kendall & Pope in the High Victorian Gothic style to a corridor plan layout. The foundation stone was laid on (2nd October) in October 1851 –
(From website: LOST HOSPITALS OF LONDON
– by the Chairman of the Committee of Visitors (the management committee). Work began immediately but, at the end of the month, the workmen went on strike for two weeks because a concession that they were allowed to finish two hours earlier on Saturdays was withdrawn, due to late starting during the week.
The site had been chosen primarily because of its water supply, but the gradients of the land made building work costly and difficult. Parts of the site were also found to contain quicksand, which caused much trouble. Arching had to be built under the kitchen block, and iron-tipped wood-piling of Dantzic timber used to provide stable foundations for the water tower and chapel tower. During some of the construction, teams of workmen had to work constantly, day and night, with “one party bailing while the other laid the foundations brick by brick”. The well, which had been planned for the centre of the main courtyard, was not dug in case it undermined the foundations. In May 1852 the hod carriers struck, hoping for a pay rise from 15 shillings (75p) to 18 shillings (90p) a week.)
(cont.) – and the hospital was officially opened as the Essex County Lunatic Asylum in September 1853. Extensions included three country style homes in 1863, a new block for female patients in 1870 and another large block for male patients in 1888. A new chapel was added in 1889 and a new nurses’ block in 1900.
The facility became the Brentwood Mental Hospital in 1920. Brentwood Hall, which had been declared unsafe, was rebuilt and reassigned as an occupational therapy department. Following these further enlargements, the hospital had 2,000 beds by 1937. Several minor buildings were damaged in bombing by the German Luftwaffe in 1940 during the Second World War. The facility joined the National Health Service in 1948 and became Warley Hospital in 1953.
After the introduction of Care in the Community in the early 1980s, the hospital went into a period of decline and eventually closed in 2002. A medium secure unit known as Mascalls Park Hospital remained on the site until 2011. This site has since been developed for residential use by Bellway as Mascalls Park. Meanwhile the asylum buildings have been converted to luxury flats by City and Country as The Galleries, and the surrounding grounds of the original hospital building were developed for residential use known as Clements Park.”