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High Royds Hospital, Menston (also known as Menston Mental Hospital, High Royds Memorial Garden)


High Royds Hospital was built between 1884 and 1888 as the pauper asylum for the West Riding of Yorkshire. The hospital was closed in 2003, and the site is currently disused.


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 an echelon-style psychiatric hospital, designed in 1884 by the West Riding county surveyor and opened in 1888, including airing courts, sports grounds, woodland, and parkland.



High Royds Hospital occupies a site in the Pennines between the villages of Menston, to the north, and Guiseley, to the south, at the east edge of Rombald's Moor. The c 100ha site is bounded to the east by the A65 Leeds to Skipton road, and to the north by a stone wall dividing it from Bingley Road. To the west the site is bounded by a track leading from Bingley Road south to High Royds Farm, and to the south and south-west it is bounded by agricultural land, with the Mire Beck marking the south boundary. The land is largely level, with a slight slope to the south-east and south to the Beck. Views extend south across the Beck to agricultural land beyond, and to the west and south-west across further agricultural land towards Hawksworth Moor. At the south-west corner of the site, west of High Royds Wood, stands High Royds Farm (outside the area here registered), which predates the hospital. The setting is largely rural, with glimpses of the villages to north and south.


The southern approach to the hospital enters the park close to the south-east corner of the site, off the A65, giving access from Guiseley and Leeds. This entrance to the site, which is situated c 500m south-east of the main, south front of the hospital, is marked on the north side by a two-storey stone lodge. From here the south drive curves north-west through the parkland, raised above the surrounding ground level and lined by an avenue of trees set in strips of lawn, these in turn flanked by hedges. At its northern end the drive passes through a shrubbery before leading into the formal open forecourt, through which it is flanked by rectangular panels of lawn which are in turn flanked by subsidiary arms of the drive. The drive terminates at a carriage sweep in front of main entrance to the hospital on the south front. The entrance to the building, up a short flight of steps, leads into the administration block which is dwarfed by the tall water tower standing behind to the north.

A spur west from the south side of the forecourt, flanked by mature trees and shrubs, encloses the south-west side of the building and adjacent airing courts, giving access to the airing courts and High Royds Wood to the south-west. A spur east from the forecourt leads north-east around the east side of the hospital and associated airing courts, dividing them from the cricket ground to the east. This spur turns south-west at the north-east corner of the hospital, to give access to the service buildings and yards on the north side of the building.

A second, north drive enters c 500m north of the hospital at the centre of the north boundary off Bingley Road, giving access directly from the village of Menston and the associated railway station. The entrance is marked on the west side by a two-storey stone and timber-framed lodge. From here the drive, raised above the surrounding park and lined by an avenue of trees set in strips of lawn flanked by hedges, extends south through the parkland to the north, service side of the hospital.

A third, north-east drive enters 250m east of the hospital building, towards the north end of the east boundary, off the A65. The entrance is marked on the north side by a two-storey stone lodge in similar style to the south-east lodge. From here the drive extends west to the north side of the hospital.

A fourth, west, service drive links the north side of the hospital with the Home Farm and former accommodation for those patients working on the farm, standing 300m to the west at the west boundary.

The drive system was largely laid out and the lodges built with the hospital in the late 1880s (OS 1894). The west drive was constructed in 1891 shortly after the Home Farm (account ledger, C488/3/1).


The hospital building (Vickers Edwards 1884-8, listed grade II) stands at the centre of the site, built in echelon form in stone, and is largely of two storeys. The central administration block, with a massive central water tower (which has lost its original wooden canopy), is flanked to the east by the former female accommodation pavilions, linked by a long L-shaped corridor, and to the west by the former male accommodation pavilions, linked in similar fashion. In the 1890s the capacity of the building was increased to 1600 patients by the addition of two further pavilions on either end of these corridors. The north side of the building accommodates the service functions and approaches, where formerly the electric goods railway reached the building, and overlooks parkland and former kitchen gardens to the north. The south, west, and east sides of the building overlook the areas of former airing courts and parkland.

The Home Farm was added at the west boundary in the 1890s and further buildings have been added to the periphery of the main hospital building during the C20.


The gardens consist largely of a series of former airing courts for the patients' recreation. Most of these lie to the west, south, and east of the pavilion wards, which open directly onto the airing courts. These airing courts are laid largely to lawn, with scattered mature trees and shrub planting, and formal and informal path systems based on the C19 layout (OS 1891, 1894). The two outermost airing courts, one on each side of the building, contain the remaining two ornamented, rectangular wooden shelters, open on two sides, in the style of seaside shelters. Each court formerly contained at least one shelter in similar style (OS 1908/09) for patient use, and several also contained lavatories (now gone). The shelters were originally supplied by the firm of Boulton and Paul during the late 1890s and in 1901 (account ledger, C488/3/1).

The airing courts on the west side of the hospital retain elements of the iron boundary fences, particularly around the outer perimeter; these are now (2000) hidden in shrubbery growth. The large, westernmost airing court contains a bank leading east down from the higher ground of the main recreation area by the west boundary to the area west of the ward pavilion. The airing court lying immediately east of the forecourt is bounded by a stone retaining wall which divides it from the forecourt, punctuated by an iron gate giving access from the forecourt. A dwarf wall, which formerly supported iron railings, divides this court from the drive to the south. This court and that to the east both enjoy long views south over the Mire Beck to agricultural land beyond. Several further airing courts lie adjacent to the north and west of a corridor which runs north-east and then north from the central administration block, linking the female accommodation pavilions on the east side of the building. These courts, which are largely enclosed by various elements of the building, are laid to lawn, with several retaining lengths of iron boundary railings and gates set on dwarf stone walls.

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), after the publication of which the shelters were erected: '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 asphalte or concrete. All the courts should have sun-shades and kiosks.' At High Royds, airing courts were provided and their outer boundaries were planted with trees, with individual trees and shrubs scattered within the courts. It is probable that the now lost sections of boundary wall and fence were taken down in the mid C20 when a policy of giving patients more freedom of access to the grounds was being adopted.

An area of pleasure ground lies to the south-west of the forecourt, formerly laid out with open lawns enclosed by trees and shrubs (OS 1908/09), but now (2000) also containing a C20 building. North of the hospital several of the scattered late C19 and early C20 buildings, including a detached ward pavilion to the north-west, the former isolation hospital, and the farm and adjacent accommodation block, all stand within their own landscaped grounds.


The park is divided into northern and southern sections by High Royds Wood and the main building, and is laid largely to pasture or playing fields. It is bounded to the west, north, and east by a mature belt of trees. The enclosed area in the southern half between the south-east drive and the cricket ground is now (2000) playing fields, but formerly was laid out with scattered specimen trees (OS 1909). To the north of this the cricket ground is encircled with mature trees to the west, north, and south, with a stand of mature pines separating it from the drive and airing courts to the west. An early C20 pavilion stands on an embankment above the west side of the pitch.

South-west of the hospital, High Royds Wood occupies higher ground, providing shelter for the building from the prevailing winds. It appears to have been planted at the same time as the hospital was laid out, or shortly after (OS 1851, 1891). North and west of the hospital stands a further area of parkland laid to pasture with scattered trees, at the west side of which stands the Home Farm (1890s). The agricultural land and asylum farm formed an important element of the therapeutic regime for the male patients, as in all pauper asylums, until the mid C20.


The former kitchen garden and nursery occupies a c 10ha site in the north-east corner of the site, bounded to the west by the north drive and to the south by the north-east drive. The area, surrounded partly by hedges, is now (2000) derelict, the south corner containing the site of the former nursery yard and glasshouses (now gone). The nursery yard was laid out c 1893 to a plan by John Huby (Plan of Proposed New Greenhouses, etc, 6th December 1892) and included a rhubarb forcing shed, a vinery, propagation pits, greenhouses, and a range of sheds. A design for the vinery of c 1892 by W Richardson of Darlington still exists (WYRO). Until the mid C20 the kitchen garden, which was exceptionally large for that of an asylum, was maintained by the male patients as part of the therapeutic regime.

Formerly (OS 1891, 1909) the electric railway which gave rail access for service purposes from the main line to the east, ran across the kitchen garden to arrive at the north side of the building.


The asylum cemetery lies 350m north-east of the hospital on level ground above and to the west of the Mire Beck; it was laid out in 1890 (account ledger, C488/3/1). The cemetery, in which 2858 patients were interred, is divided from the hospital grounds by the A65 and an ambulance station (late C20; outside the area here registered) which covers former hospital kitchen garden land. The cemetery, bounded to the north by a stone wall which is punctuated by iron entrance gates, is laid to lawn with the outline of former paths visible, and a stone mortuary chapel in the west corner. A substantial stone bridge carrying the A65 connects the cemetery directly with the hospital grounds to the west. The bridge formerly crossed the course of the hospital's electric railway (closed 1951, Hullin 1988) which also bounded the south side of the cemetery, its former course at this point still being flanked by an avenue of trees. The hospital railway, originally laid down to transport building materials in the mid 1880s and retained to transport goods to the hospital, joined the Otley and Ilkley extension of the main LMSR railway east of the Beck. Views extend east from the cemetery across the Mire Beck valley to Guiseley Moor.


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

The Building News 51, no 1655 (24 September 1886), pp 450-1

H C Burdett, Hospitals and Asylums of the World II, (1891), pp 1-3, 13, 39-40, 54-8

Royal Institute of British Architects, Journal, (23 February 1901), p 166, pl V

R Hullin, High Royds Hospital Commemorative Brochure 1888-1988 (1988)

J Taylor, Hospital and Asylum Architecture in England, 1840-1914 (1991), p 204

F Rossi, Mental Hospital Landscapes in a Changing World, (unpub MA thesis, IAAS, York 1998), pp 113-25


Plan of an Estate Situate at Menstone Proposed Site for New West Riding Asylum, 1883 (QD3/535), (West Yorks Record Office, Wakefield)

John Huby, Plan of Proposed New Greenhouses, etc, 6th December 1892, (C488 misc plans), (West Yorks Record Office, Wakefield)

OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1851; 2nd edition published 1894; 3rd edition published 1909; 1934 edition

OS 25" to 1 mile: 2nd edition published 1891; 3rd edition published 1908/09; 1934 edition

Archival items

Parts of the administrative archive have been lost, but the remains of the main holding, particularly building plans, are at the West Yorkshire Record Office, Wakefield (WYRO), catalogue number C488.

Account Ledger, (C488/3/1), (West Yorks Record Office, Wakefield)

Hospital file 102627, (National Monuments Record, Swindon)

Description written: May 2000

Edited: May 2002

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

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 Third West Riding County Lunatic Asylum, situated at Menston, was designed in 1884 by Vickers Edwards, the county surveyor, to supplement the County's other asylums at Wakefield (opened 1818) and Wadsley (opened 1872), and was intended to serve the rapidly increasing population of nearby Leeds and Bradford. A roughly 150 hectare agricultural estate centred on High Royds Farm had been acquired for £18,000 from Mr Ayscough Fawkes of Farnley Hall for this purpose shortly before (Hullin 1988). Edwards produced a design to accommodate 900 patients, the ward pavilions being laid out in echelon arrangement to form a broad arrow plan, a device which had only been developed in the previous few years. 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 and a newly planted wood, together with other landscape features, enclosed the building and courts. The outer ends of the echelon wings when built were intended for the addition of extra pavilions as necessary, which occurred in the mid-1890s, with the addition of two wards on either side bringing the accommodation up to 1600 patients.

An account ledger (C488/3/1) provides information on the period during which the grounds were laid out, starting in June 1888 and continuing until October 1890. This details the labour costs which amounted to £2266.6s.4d, indicating that the majority of the landscaping was carried out by outside labour rather than the male patients, which had been the case in many other asylums, when the activity was seen as a useful part of their therapy.

Several peripheral buildings were added during the 20th century. The asylum was renamed Menston Mental Hospital around 1930, and High Royds Hospital in 1963; it is scheduled to close in about 2001.

Features & Designations


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

  • Reference: GD4355
  • Grade: II


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



Principal Building

Health And Welfare


Part: standing remains



Electoral Ward