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Graylingwell Hospital


The hospital was built between 1895 and 1897 as the pauper asylum for West Sussex.


Largely flat
The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

The grounds of a medium-sized, echelon-style psychiatric hospital, opened in 1897. The site was laid out from 1897 to designs by Mr R Lloyd, the Surrey Asylum Head Gardener at Brookwood, who was an experienced designer of asylum landscapes.



Graylingwell Hospital stands at the northern edge of Chichester, 2km from the city centre. The c 30ha site lies on largely level ground, its setting being partly rural and partly urban. It is enclosed to the north and west by the suburbs of Chichester, and to the south by late C20 hospital and related buildings including that of St Richard's Hospital, and open land. To the east it is bounded by agricultural land which was formerly part of the hospital farmland. The west boundary is marked by a belt of trees running alongside Summersdale Road, which gives access from Chichester to the south. The belt extends south alongside a playing field (outside the area here registered). Long views extend north-east from the site across agricultural land towards the Downs and Goodwood, and there are also views of Chichester Cathedral spire to the south.


The south-west approach to the hospital enters the site c 500m south-west of the main, north entrance to the hospital building, at the point where Summersdale Road, College Lane (providing access from Chichester to the south) and Wellington Road (providing access from Midhurst to the north) meet. South Lodge stands 30m inside the entrance on the north side of the drive, set in its own grounds. It is built of two storeys in brick in vernacular style and set in its own enclosed gardens. From here the south-west drive leads north-east flanked by an avenue of mature limes, overlooking parkland within Havenstoke Field to the north. North-west of the main hospital building, the serpentine drive swings round to the east, turning south-east to enter the forecourt at the centre of the north front, arriving at the main entrance to the hospital at the centre of the administration block. The forecourt is screened to the north by a lawn planted with mature trees and shrubs, and dominated by the massive water tower which stands at the east side. From the forecourt the drive continues north-east and east to run parallel to the north front of the building, giving access to the chapel, kitchen garden and farmyard to the north, finally terminating at the original Graylingwell Farmhouse, standing 50m north-east of the main building.

A spur leads east off the south-west drive 250m south-west of the main entrance to the hospital. It curves south-east for c 75m to arrive at a turning circle on the main entrance to the detached, former Medical Superintendent's house, situated on the west front. The turning circle overlooks the associated garden to the south, and a path leads round to the tradesmen's entrance on the north side.

A second spur leads south-east off the south-west drive 300m south-west of the main entrance to the hospital, extending eastwards along the outer boundary of the airing courts on the south side of the building. It is bounded on the south side by mature lime trees. Some 50m south of the centre of the south front an arm of the spur extends south to encircle the cricket pitch, returning to join the spur 75m from the south-east corner of the main building. From here the spur continues around the outer boundary of the airing courts on the east side of the building, giving access also to detached buildings erected c 1930s, to join the drive on the north front 50m west of Graylingwell Farmhouse.

A second, north-west drive enters the site 450m west of the hospital, giving access off Summersdale Road 250m north of the south-west entrance. North Lodge stands at the entrance on the south side of the drive, set in its own grounds, which are more extensive than those of South Lodge and are largely enclosed by mature trees and shrubs. It is built of two storeys in brick in similar style to South Lodge. The drive, bounded on the south side by an avenue of mature trees, extends east, overlooking the park in Havenstoke Field to the south and Summersdale Hospital to the north. The north-west drive joins the south-west drive 100m north-west of the hospital entrance before approaching the entrance on the north front. The drive then continues along the north front. The north-west drive and the drive along the north front follow the course of the serpentine drive which from at least the C18 led from Summersdale Road across agricultural land to Graylingwell Farmhouse (Yeakell and Gardner, 1778; OS 1880). The rest of the drive system was laid out in the late 1890s by Lloyd.


The two-storey main hospital building (A Blomfield, 1894-97) stands towards the centre of the site, built as a series of brick pavilions in echelon form. The Queen Anne-style administration block is more highly decorated than most of the other elements, and has a cupola on the roof. It is set into the centre of the north front, with a massive water tower close by to the east. The administration block terminates the north end of a central, spinal service range, including kitchens and a recreation hall. This service block is in turn flanked to the east by the four former female accommodation pavilions, linked by corridors, and to the west by the four former male accommodation pavilions, linked in similar fashion. On the north side, to the west and east of the administration block, lie service yards and former drying grounds. The south, west and east sides of the building overlook the airing courts and grounds beyond. The north-west and north-east pavilions were added c 1900-01.

The large chapel is built in Early English style of local flint with stone dressings, and stands 80m north of the administration block. The single-storey former isolation hospital, built at the same time as the main hospital building, stands 170m north-east of the administration block. Further buildings, constructed in the C20, include a nurses' home standing 130m north-west of the administration building, and to the west of this Summersdale Hospital (1933).


The gardens consist largely of a series of six former airing courts for the patients' recreation, surrounding the wards which open directly onto them. They are largely laid to lawn and planted mainly around their perimeters with mature trees and flowering shrubs, although several have large specimen trees set in lawn. Each contains the remains of an informal path system, largely consisting of a perimeter path enclosing a lawn. Of the original six rectangular wooden shelters (estate plan, c 1910), three remain, open on all four sides, set close to the outer boundaries of the courts. A small iron pool lies in each of the two courts flanking the centre of the south front, with the remains of the piping which fed a small fountain jet which originally lay at the centre. These are the remains of a total of five similar pools and fountains which formerly decorated various courts (estate plan, c 1910). The airing courts retain much of the original iron boundary fencing. In many places the fences are supplemented by clipped holly hedges, originally planted by Lloyd to clothe the fences and discourage the patients from absconding. The airing courts overlook the adjacent grounds and playing fields, with views variously towards the Downs to the north-east and Chichester cathedral to the south. Two further airing courts lie enclosed by elements of the hospital building. These are largely laid to lawn set with scattered shrubs, with perimeter and cross paths.

The airing courts were laid out according to the recommendations of the Commissioners in Lunacy's Suggestions and Instructions (1856), that they 'should be of ample extent so as to afford proper means for healthful exercise [for the patients]. They should all be planted and cultivated, and any trees existing within them should be preserved for shade.' This was amplified in H C Burdett's influential text Hospitals and Asylums of the World (1891): 'The courts should be laid out as gardens, and orchards, and lawns. The walks should be twelve or fifteen feet wide, and laid down to asphalt or concrete. All the courts should have sun-shades and kiosks'. The intention was that these spaces should not be regarded as 'airing courts', rather as gardens for the patients, 'laid out with lawns and flower beds and planted with numerous shrubs and trees' and enclosed by a 'light iron fence and holly hedge ... [to] afford an uninterrupted and beautiful view of the country' (Annual Report, 1898). The result of Lloyd's design, drawn up in 1897 and laid out over the following years (Minute Books), is illustrated on the estate map of c 1910.

To the south-west of the main building and airing courts, stands the Medical Superintendent's substantial house, constructed in Queen Anne-style with external decoration similar to the administration block. The house, connected to the main building by a wooden corridor with a small wooden conservatory, is set in its own extensive grounds laid out in similar manner to the airing courts. The garden is laid largely to lawn, terraced down to the south-west, with perimeter paths and mature perimeter tree and shrub planting. It is bounded by iron fencing with holly hedges.

At the centre of the south front, to the south of the central service block and separating the two central exterior airing courts, stands the Assistant Medical Officers' house, originally intended to house two officers. The house overlooks its own garden, laid to lawn and enclosed by holly hedges.

The chapel, set in lawns planted with specimen trees, is approached by a spur curving off the drive along the north front of the main building. A large, blue Atlantic cedar stands in a prominent position on the lawn close to the centre of the south front of the chapel, possibly being that donated and planted in 1900 by the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, the Chairman of the Visiting Committee (Minutes of the Farm and Grounds Sub Committee, 1897-1909).

The former isolation hospital, standing north-east of the chapel, is set in its own grounds which are enclosed by hedges and mature trees. The building is reached via a spur off the drive along the north front of the main building. The spur arrives at a wooden veranda at the centre of the south front of the isolation hospital. The isolation hospital overlooks a level lawn to the south which was formerly used for tennis. The nurses' home, Pinewood House, set between Summersdale House and the main building, stands in its own spacious grounds laid to lawn and enclosed by mature trees.

Summersdale Hospital, opened in 1933, is approached off the north-west drive via a straight drive flanked by mature trees, arriving at the centre of the south front. The drive is flanked by two airing courts laid to lawn, each planted with mature trees, with an informal path system and wooden patient shelters in similar style to those around the main building. These were laid out at the time that the building was erected. An avenue of mature plane trees leads off the north-west drive along the west side of the building giving access to the rear, and to the former kitchen garden to the north-east.

In total c 12,000 trees and shrubs were originally planted, 10 acres (4.5ha) of lawn laid out, 1 acre (0.4ha) of gravel laid, and 4.5 miles (c 7.2km) of roads and paths made (Annual Report, 1898).


The majority of the park lies to the west of the main building, and is enclosed to north and south by the two main drives, and to the west by Summersdale Road. It is laid to lawn and used as playing fields, and is planted with scattered trees and a mixed avenue of mature trees along the west side linking the two entrances. Formerly known as Havenstoke Field (estate plan, c 1910) it is bisected north to south by an earthwork ditch (scheduled monument) which was variously described as an entrenchment or dyke (OS 1898).

The cricket pitch lies 75m south-east of the main building, enclosed on the west, south and east sides by the drive, marked by a line of lime trees. At the centre of the south side stands the rendered pavilion, with a hipped roof which sweeps low over a veranda. The pavilion is set in lawn, and overlooks the pitch and main building beyond to the north. Organised sports formed part of the therapeutic regime of the hospital, particularly for male patients.

Graylingwell Farmhouse (early C18, listed grade II), standing disused to the north-east of the main hospital building, is built of two-storeys in red brick. It was reused for asylum purposes to house male patients working on the farm. It stands overlooking its own enclosed garden to the east, laid largely to lawn, which slopes down to the remains of the Grayling Well which is surrounded by mature trees. Formerly a pond was fed by the spring (Yeakell and Gardner 1778; OS 1880, 1945), but in the mid C20 the pond was filled in so that only a small flint and brick structure remained around the well. The asylum farmyard lies 50m north-east of the hospital building to the north-west of Graylingwell farmhouse. It was built in the late 1890s, incorporating earlier farm buildings. The farm buildings enclose four sides of the yard, with the detached, flint farm cottage set in its own garden to the north.

Martin's Farm, a small, disused house, stands 100m south-west of the Medical Superintendent's house, set within its own grounds partly enclosed by a crumbling flint wall. The house is also flint-built and predates the hospital.

Formerly the site was surrounded by agricultural land (outside the area here registered), much of which has since been built on, but which was part of the hospital's farmland. The male patients in particular carried out farm work as part of the therapeutic regime.


The remains of the c 1.5ha, rectangular kitchen garden and nursery, now disused (2001), extend north from close to the north side of the chapel; they are outside the area here registered. Some orchard trees remain in the fields on either side. The garden was serviced by the nursery yard, the remains of which lie 100m east of the chapel. Within the nursery yard stand the remains of associated structures including glasshouses and frames. A single-storey gardener's cottage stands on the east boundary of this area adjacent to and facing the farmyard.

By c 1910 (estate map) the kitchen garden was laid out with a grid pattern of paths, these all edged with trees, probably orchard trees. The yard contained glasshouses, the gardener's cottage, and other associated buildings. The kitchen garden formed an important element of the therapeutic regime for the male patients, as in other pauper asylums.


Commissioners in Lunacy, Suggestions and Instructions, (1856, revised 1887, 1898, 1911)

H C Burdett, Hospitals and Asylums of the World (1891)

Graylingwell Hospital, Annual Report (1898) (HC/GR MJ/2/1-7, WSCRO)

Graylingwell Mental Hospital Chichester, illustrated brochure for private patients (1911) [copy at WSCRO, HC/GR ZA 2/1]

West Sussex History, 39 (January 1988), pp 1-7; 40 (May 1988), pp 18-22; 41 (August 1988), pp 26-30

B C Hopper, 100 Years of Sanctuary Graylingwell Hospital 1897-1997 (1997)


Thomas Yeakell and William Gardner, Survey of Sussex, 2": 1 mile (1778)

Graylingwell Mental Hospital estate plan (nd, c 1910) (Add MSS 2288), (West Sussex County Record Office)

OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1875, published 1880; 3rd edition, surveyed 1909-10, published 1914; 1932 edition; 1945 edition

OS 25" to 1 mile: 2nd edition, surveyed 1896, published 1898; 3rd edition surveyed 1909-10, published 1912; 1932 edition

Archival items

West Sussex County Record Office, Chichester holds a collection of items including: Visiting Committee Minute books (1892 onwards, HC/GR MA1-3); Annual Reports; Minutes of the Farm and Grounds Sub Committee (1897-1909, HC/GC MC1); photographs (HC/GR ZD3).

Hospital file 102269 (National Monuments Record, Swindon)

Description written: September 2001

Amended: January 2002

Edited: December 2003

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts


Chichester Priority Care Services NHS Trust


The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):


The West Sussex Lunatic Asylum was designed in 1894 by the architect Arthur Blomfield. The asylum was intended to serve the pauper agricultural population of rural West Sussex and for this purpose the 370-acre (roughly 150 hectares) Graylingwell Farm estate was acquired around 1894. The farmhouse had, in the 1850s, been an early home of the author Anna Sewell, who later wrote Black Beauty. The eponymous Grayling Well, which lay close to the farmhouse and was fed by a spring, had probably existed since at least Saxon times (West Sussex History, January 1988).

Blomfield produced a design to accommodate 450 patients in ward pavilions laid out in echelon arrangement to form a broad arrow plan. Space was left for the addition of an extra ward pavilion on either side of the building, for an extra 150 male and female patients. The echelon style, developed in the 1870s and 80s, had by this date become the common pattern for asylum buildings. The wards were each intended to be occupied by a different medical class of patient, including sick and infirm, recent and acute, and epileptic. The airing courts were arranged adjacent to the wards as in earlier 19th-century asylum designs, and the parkland, including a large kitchen garden, enclosed the building and courts and included recreational facilities. The asylum opened officially in 1897.

The minute books of the Visiting Committee of West Sussex County Council (1892 onwards, WSCRO) provide information on the period during which the building was erected and the grounds were laid out, the latter starting in 1896 and continuing until 1898. The minutes report that in early 1897 Mr R Lloyd, the Surrey Asylum Head Gardener at Brookwood Asylum, provided plans for the laying out of the grounds and gardens. Lloyd was by that time an established designer of asylum grounds, having laid out Brookwood in the 1860s, given advice at Cane Hill in Surrey in the 1880s, and provided designs and advice to St Luke's Hospital, Middlesbrough and Hill End Hospital at St Albans in Hertfordshire. Following approval from the Visiting Committee, Lloyd supervised the layout and planting of the grounds and roads over the following two years. Much of the landscaping was, initially, carried out by hired labourers, rather than being left for the male patients as part of the therapeutic regime, as was the case in many other asylums. At least £1300 was spent on the labour to lay out the grounds, with a further £539 spent on plants and seeds for the gardens and grounds. Lloyd was paid £95 (HC/GR MA2). Of the thousands of plants bought, many thousands were hollies, planted, particularly around the boundaries of the airing courts. An undated plan (around 1910) shows the extent of the finished grounds and planting. Lloyd having designed and supervised the grounds being laid out, the Visiting Committee sent a letter of thanks for his 'valuable services', and presented him with an illuminated copy of their testimonial(HC/GR MA2).

The projected two additional ward pavilions were added from about 1900-1901. Several peripheral buildings were added during the 1920s and 1930s, including a nurses' home, and a detached patient villa called Summersdale Villa which opened in 1933 (date stone on building), both set in their own designed grounds. The asylum finally closed in 2001 and is now (2002) awaiting redevelopment.

Associated People
Features & Designations


  • The National Heritage List for England: Register of Parks and Gardens

  • Reference: GD4978
  • Grade: II


  • Hospital (featured building)
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
Key Information





Principal Building

Health And Welfare


Part: standing remains



Civil Parish