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Glanrhyd Hospital (also known as Angelton Hospital)


The formal gardens are composed of separate compartments, or 'airing courts' with lawns, mature trees and mixed planting surrounded by walls of attractive stone. There is informal evergreen planting around the chapel.

This is extracted from a Statement of Significance compiled by Susan Lewis as a part of an Open University Heritage course

GlanrhydHospital is situated on the outskirts of Bridgend, South Wales and was built in 1864 as the CountyLunatic Asylum. The hospital and grounds are owned by the Local Health Authority and it is still today a psychiatric hospital.

The design of asylums together with the surrounding landscape was an important element in this form of therapy (Rutherford, 2004, 30).

The gardens and grounds of many asylums of the period were designed in a similar fashion to a country house with a drive, formal area around the house, lodges, walks in the grounds to provide recreation, and often a farm for produce and also to provide occupation for the patients. (Whittle, 2000, 12, Rutherford, 2004, 30).

Although each asylum was designed separately there were guidelines for the architects: Suggestions and Instructions in Reference to Sites: Construction and Arrangement of Buildings: Plans: of Lunatic Asylums, 1856.

Among the suggestions were the following: the site should be sufficiently large, approximately one acre per four patients in order to provide plenty of room for agricultural and horticultural activities and also for recreation. The main building with bedrooms and dayrooms should be situated towards the north boundary of the plot, and facing south in order to capture all available sunlight that was thought to lift the mood of the patients. In addition this should provide views to the south over open country. The roads and service buildings should be on the north side to keep the south area clear for patients. There should be direct access from the day rooms to the exercise courts, where patients took their main exercise, and should be planted and cultivated, and any mature trees retained.

The Commission also made recommendations for the wider grounds: farm buildings, ornamental trees and parkland with walks, and areas for growing vegetables. In addition, recreational facilities such as football and cricket fields should be within easy reach.

The design for the asylum at Glanrhyd followed these recommendations very closely, and the first edition Ordnance Survey Map of 1875 illustrates this. The site occupied an area of 71 acres for 300 patients, the recommended ratio, and the main part of the hospital faces south with a formal area directly in front of the dining room with lawns and paths. There were four walled airing courts, clearly demarcated females, and males, with views over open country as suggested. In addition the entrance and roads were on the north side of the buildings.

A recent Ordnance Survey Map and aerial photograph show the hospital and grounds as they are today. The layout of the hospital is still essentially the same as it was originally. The main block faces south, with the four airing courts directly in front, and with lawns and mature trees. The aerial photograph illustrates the view southwards to the open field beyond.

The gardens and grounds of GlanrhydHospital are therefore an outstanding example of a landscape that is largely unchanged since the asylum was built in 1864.

In addition the garden and grounds and indeed the buildings are a rare example of a Victorian Lunatic Asylum. The other two asylums of this period in Wales have been closed: NorthWalesHospital, Denbigh Lunatic Asylum opened in 1842 and closed in 1995, and Monmouthshire County Asylum opened in 1847 and closed in 1996. (http://www.archivesnetworkwales) The situation in England is similar, according to SAVE ‘by the year 2000, 98 out of a total of 121 large mental hospitals will have closed’ and no doubt there are even fewer in number today. (Binney, 1995, 1).

Glanrhyd is therefore a rare example of a surviving Victorian Lunatic Asylum together with its gardens and grounds.


Commissioners in Lunacy (1856), Suggestions and Instructions in Reference to Sites: Construction and Arrangement of Buildings: Plans: of Lunatic Asylums, HMSO, London.

Binney, M. (1995) ‘Introduction' in Mind Over Matter-a Study of the Country's Threatened Mental Asylums, ed. E. Phillips, (1995) SAVE Britain's Heritage, London.

Whittle, E. (2000) Register of Landscapes, Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in Wales, Glamorgan, Cadw, Welsh Historic Monuments, Cardiff.


Rutherford, S. (2004) ‘Victorian and Edwardian Institutional Landscapes in England'. Landscapes, Vol. 5, No. 2, 25-41.

Rutherford, S. (2005) ‘Landscapes for the Mind: English Asylum Designers'. Garden History, Vol. 33, No. 1, 61-86.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts


01656 752752


The site is bounded by the Ogmore River to the east and the A4063 to the west, with the M4 motorway nearby. The entrance is off the A4063.


National Health Service Wales


This is extracted from a Statement of Significance compiled by Susan Lewis as a part of an Open University Heritage course

Prior to the 19th century, lunatics were kept in private asylums, charitable institutions or at home out of sight. This situation changed when the Lunacy Act of 1845 made it obligatory for counties to erect and maintain pauper lunatic asylums financed from the county rates. In South Wales in 1847 a committee was set up of Justices of the Peace from the counties of Cardigan, Carmarthen, Pembroke and Glamorgan to oversee the building of an asylum in the west of Glamorgan. Advertisements were placed in local newspapers for suitable sites, and a site offered by Mr William Llewellyn of Court Colman was chosen. This was a farm with 71 acres at Angelton, two miles north of Bridgend, at a cost of £5,450 (Minutes of the proceedings of the Committee of Visitors, 1859. Glamorgan Record Office, Q/4/M9/1/2).

The committee requested plans for an asylum to house 300 inmates at Angelton. Those submitted by Richard Bell of

17 Gracechurch Street, London
were chosen, and he was allowed £1,100 for his services. Messrs. Barnsley and Sons of Birmingham were chosen as builders and a contract was signed with them to ‘erect, build and finish several buildings for the purposes of a Lunatic Asylum’, and to be paid £21,288 for general buildings and £1,400 for the chapel. (Glamorgan Record Office, Q/4/M9/1/2).

The asylum opened on 4 November 1864 and was called AngeltonHospital, until taken over by the National Health Service in 1948 when the name was changed to Glanrhyd.

In 1863 Dr. David Yellowlees was appointed Medical Superintendent of the asylum. In a report to a meeting of visitors in January 1866, he informed them of the general principles of treatment to be followed in the asylum:

‘To distract the insane mind from morbid thoughts by occupation or amusement, and to present to it new and healthy thoughts. To soothe by kindness, to control by tact and firmness, and to invite confidence by candour and truth. Harshness punishment or restraint are absolutely forbidden.' (Glamorgan Record Office Q/L/G/P/3)

He was echoing the regime of ‘moral therapy’, a form of treatment that became widespread during the beginning of the 19th century. Previously very cruel regimes had been used in order to try to cure the insane, but the exponents of moral therapy believed that insanity could be cured by kindness and reason (Scull, 1993, 102). They also thought that the treatment should be carried out in secure environment where a regime of work and exercise was used to stimulate mind and body (Porter, 1996, 292).


Cambridge Illustrated History of Medicine, ed. R. Porter, (1996) Cambridge University Press, England.

Porter, R. (1987) Mind-Forg'd Manacles: A History of Madness in England from the Restoration to the Regency, Penguin Books, London.

Scull, A. (1993) The Most Solitary of Afflictions: Madness and Society in Britain 1700-1900, Yale University Press, London.

Hickman, C. (2009) ‘Therapeutic Landscapes: the Design and Use of Nineteenth-century Lunatic Asylum Grounds'.


Victorian (1837-1901)

Features & Designations


  • CADW Register of Landscapes Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in Wales

  • Reference: PGW(Gm)10(BRI)
  • Grade: II
Key Information





Principal Building

Health And Welfare


Victorian (1837-1901)



Open to the public


Civil Parish

Newcastle Higher




  • Susan Lewis