Afflicted: 11 Abandoned UK Asylums “Open” for Exploration

Featured — By Rachel Greenberg on February 18, 2011 at 6:00 am

3. Cane Hill Asylum – Croydon district of London

Image: Dazzababes/Dazzababes/Flickr

The demolition and subsequent arson at Cane Hill in November 2010 was the final destruction for one of the most beloved urban exploration sites on this list. A massive complex built in 1882, Cane Hill was situated in the lush forest of London’s greenbelt overlooking open park land. It was built to hold the overflow of patients coming out of other London asylums, and was named Third Surrey Lunatic Asylum at the time of its opening. During its 100 plus years of operation, Cane Hill held some famous family members, including Charlie Chaplin’s mother and the brothers of both David Bowie and Michael Caine – Bowie even shot the cover of his album “The Man Who Sold the World” in the hallways of Cane Hill.

Images: Beyond the Fence

Image: Dazzababes/Dazzababes/Flickr

Although it held 2,000 patients during its busiest period, by the time the final patients were moved out of the asylum in 2006, it only had around 23 residents. Severely underused and then fully abandoned, Cane Hill was a magnet for urban explorers for over 10 years. Because of its unique location on London’s greenbelt, the future of Cane Hill is under close scrutiny. After plans for it to be turned into commercial housing and attempts for the hospital to be made into an English Heritage site both fell through, the buildings were slowly taken down, piece by piece, from 2008-2010. At the end of 2010, the only remaining buildings were the chapel, administrative building an water tower.

Image: Dazzababes/Flickr

Sadlym in November of 2010 the final blow to Cane Hill arrived in the form of arson. An intentional fire was set in the basement of the administrative building that torched the lower floors and finally set fire to the building’s roof, collapsing the building’s iconic clock tower. The remaining buildings are now incredibly unsafe to enter.

Tags: abandoned, asylums, hospital, London, UK, urban exploration, urban explorers, Wales


  • C says:

    Definitely captured a time in history.

    A bit eerie. I often wonder how another feels capturing the energy from such photos.

  • Chris says:

    Spooky photo’s in beautiful buildings.
    Such a shame that the buildings are left to rot.
    The Deva (chester) building i have first hand knowledge of, The brickwork /masonary is beautiful.
    But it was a damn cold building

  • Static says:

    I was committed once. But they couldn’t contain me because I am a Vatican assassin…a rock star from Mars. I’m shootin’ poetry from my fingertips over here, and I’m not bothering to ask questions later. That’s what happens when you have tiger’s blood and you snort a big ol’ pile of Charlie Sheen.

    btw, thanks for the honorable mention in your Pirates vs. Ninjas article! 8D


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