The Oakwood Hospital was founded as the “Kent County Lunatic Asylum,” a single building constructed between 1829 and 1833 in Maidstone, Kent. At its peak, the asylum held around 2,000 psychiatric patients from around the county, and some of the London boroughs due to their close proximity. With the shift away from long-term institutionalization of the mentally ill in the later part of the 20th century, the hospital fell into disuse, and was abandoned in the 1990s.
The psychiatric complex stood derelict for a number of years, giving urban explorers the opportunity to venture into its corridors. The remaining buildings have since been converted into apartments and are now privately owned. However, the gardens are open, having been extensively landscaped, and allow a view of the imposing historic buildings.
Due to an increase in the number of patients being admitted, the hospital had to expand from its initial building. This included an additional building, built in 1850, named The Queens House. The development and expansion of the hospital continued in 1867, when a third building was added; the new asylum block was called Hermitage Block.
When the hospital was finally closed in the 1990s, its functions had already transferred to the new Maidstone hospital, located a short distance away. Due to arson attacks during this time, the decision was made to demolish the Hermitage Block and other out-buildings. The buildings which were Grade II Listed were spared demolition, and can be seen today.
Know Before You Go
Free parking is available in St Andrews Road, where the gatehouse and entrance to the gardens can be found.