Denbigh Insane Asylum – Denbigh, Wales - Atlas Obscura

Denbigh Insane Asylum

The decaying ruins of Wales' first asylum for the mentally ill. 

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Sorry, Denbigh Insane Asylum is permanently closed.

Now in a state of picturesque decay, Denbigh Asylum (aka North Wales Hospital) was actually abandoned relatively recently, closing its doors in 1995 after 147 years of service.

Constructed between 1844 and 1848, the hospital served as a refuge for Welsh-speaking mental patients. Originally designed to accommodate about 200 patients, it was expanded to alleviate overcrowding in 1899 and eventually was home to as many as 1,500 patients.

When it was founded, many hoped the hospital would be a source of restorative treatment, rather than a costly dumping ground where those suffering from mental illness could be kept away from the rest of society. But as the hospital grew, patient welfare was increasingly set to the side. Tasks around the hospital were done largely by labor from the patients, and treatment consisted largely of sedation and time in Turkish baths.

Plans to close the hospital were put in motion in the late 1980s, and the main unit was shut down in 1995.

The hospital has been vandalized and looted since its closing, and plans had been made to demolish the historic building to make way for 280 new homes and businesses, but these were never completed. In 2008, the buildings were featured in an episode of “Most Haunted” and later the same year a devastating fire broke out, causing more damage to the aging structure. Today, its fate is uncertain.

Know Before You Go

Head throught the centre of Denbigh Town and look for signs to the Castle. Park up at the Castle for free or on the road below. After parking, follow the road down towards the outskirts of town and you will come to the main gates of Denbigh Asylum - to avoid attention (the house opposite the gates have dogs), walk a little further up the road, past the next house with the aviary in the front driveway, and take the first right onto a dirt path in a little wooded area a little further on from the house; walk down this path up this and don't be tempted to climb at the first reasonable looking gap in the hedge above the wall, there are better gaps in the hedges and lower wall a little further down. Climb up a dry stone wall and you are now within the grounds of this rather magnificent place.Take note that signs warn of Asbestos on site, so take a dust mask and eye protection if you intend to have a good nose around inside. Signs also warn of CCTV on site. Site is marked as private property and 'trespassers will be prosecuted' warning signs are visible in at least two locations from the road. As of May 2019, there are numerous security members around the area.

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