St John’s Hospital was originally built as The Lincolnshire County Lunatic Asylum in 1852, just seven after the Lunacy act (1845) that required every county to have such a facility. It cost around £30,000 to build. Designed by John R. Hamilton and James Medland of Hamilton & Medland, the institution went on to have a long history, until it closed in December 1989. It was enlarged on several occasions to meet the demand for more beds.
The hospital was originally set in grounds of 120 acres, that included gardens, farmland and a burial ground. The Lincolnshire County Lunatic Asylum, like others of its kind, was designed to be self-sufficient, with patients tending the land. 250 patients it was first designed for and at it’s height of operation housed nearly 1900 patients.
The Hospital was laid out with male and female wings on either side of the central services block. The Superintendent’s residence occupied the portion of the south frontage. With the superintendents garden separating the male and female airing courts. Behind the wards were single story blocks for refractory patients. A small gatehouse guarded the entrance to the north.
The following names have been used officially and unofficially for the institution over it’s long history. Often interchangeably:
- 1852-93 – Lincolnshire County Lunatic Asylum / Lincolnshire County Pauper Lunatic Asylum
- 1894-1915 – Lincolnshire Lunatic Asylum
- 1897-98 – Lindsey, Holland, Lincoln and Grimsby District Pauper Lunatic Asylum
- 1903-20 – Lincolnshire Asylum
- 1898-1902 – Bracebridge Pauper Lunatic Asylum
- 1902-19 – Bracebridge District Lunatic Asylum
- 1919-48 – Bracebridge Mental Hospital
- 1930-38 – Lincolnshire Mental Hospital
- 1939-60 – Bracebridge Heath Hospital
- 1961-89 – St John’s Hospital, Bracebridge Heath
Source: Asylum, Inside the Pauper Lunatic Asylums: Mark Davis, 2014
From 1940 to 1943, the hospital acted as an emergency war hospital. The female patients were transferred mainly to Storthes Hall Mental Hospital in Huddersfield. Many of which never returned until long after the war ended. Administration of the hospital passed to the National Health Service after it’s creation in 1948.
In the early 1960’s the old asylum was renamed for the final time and became St John’s Hospital.
The hospital site is under different stages of development. With some already transformed into homes, in what is now known as St John’s Village, the original buildings character has been preserved.
We started the day early. Up at 5am and out by 6 we drove the couple of hour journey to meet at our first location for the day. We met in the car park of the pub across the road. Grabbed our equipment and off we went.
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With two camcorders, an action cam, an SLR camera and our phones, we were more equipped than previous explores. Excited to try out some new stuff for our video productions, we set to work. In total we spent about 3 hours in St John’s and we were pleasantly surprised by how much there still was to see. All in all, a great explore and a great start to the day.