Confined Places: The History of High Royds Insane Asylum

(All images by Tom Blackwell (Website: Lucid Dreams), reproduced with permission)

Most any British urban explorer knows of the High Royds Insane Asylum. First opened in 1888, the site operated as psychiatric hospital for over a century until its final closure in 2003. A striking building, it stands on the outskirts of Menston, northern England, and is currently undergoing redevelopment as a new village. Several of the former treatment buildings are already in use as residential houses, while others remain eerily abandoned.

At one point, the site housed a fully inclusive village for inmates, including a library, surgery, dispensary, ballroom and even its own linked railway. By the time of its closure, High Royds had become outdated in terms of mental health practice and all inpatients were transferred elsewhere. Despite occasionally using controversial methods in patient treatment, High Royds also pioneered the use of Lithium to treat patients suffering from bipolar disorder – a treatment still used today.

Structurally, the building is absolutely stunning and has been used as the setting of several films and TV shows in recent years. Many of the old buildings are largely intact, including original mosaic tiling and majestic carvings. The gigantic clock tower has been restored to full working order and provides a sense of splendour from its stance over the other buildings.

According to accounts from visitors to the site, High Royds has retained its history through its amazing structure, and it’s impossible not to feel “a shiver down the spine” as a result of being there. Ghostly happenings have been reported, including mysterious smells of smoke, footsteps without owners, and spooky whispers requesting the visitors “get out of the wards”!

Despite its eerie history, the site is often fondly remembered by staff members and volunteers of the hospital and looks to remain in use for years to come.

All images by Tom Blackwell – be sure to check out Tom’s website: Lucid Dreams


About the author: Sarah




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