Abandoned Morgues: 21 Derelict Mortuaries & Body Slabs

abandoned-morgues-harlem-valley-state-hospital (Image: Jonathan Haeber; abandoned morgue at Harlem Valley State Hospital)

Nothing screams “horror movie” quite like an abandoned morgue. As the final stop for most of us before the grave or crematorium, derelict mortuaries exert a creepy fascination over us. It’s all too easy to imagine opening a long-rusted drawer, only to see a decayed and forgotten cadaver staring blankly back at you… or imagine your own inevitable end, lying alongside it. Here are 21 abandoned morgues and autopsy slabs guaranteed to send a chill up your spine:

St Mary’s Asylum Abandoned Mortuary


abandoned-mortuary-at-st-marys-asylum-in-stannington-2 (Images: scrappy nw)

Built in 1914, St Mary’s Hospital in Northumberland was once upon a time known as the Gateshead Borough Asylum. Ultimately closed down in 1995, it managed to shelter some of its rooms from immediate destruction; the most-interesting of which was the abandoned mortuary.

A drab and dirty room crowned by a hard white autopsy table, the St Mary’s morgue was the last word in grim dilapidation. Separated from the main hospital by a flimsy wooden door, the derelict morgue showed its age in an especially gloomy way. Although the abandoned hospital building itself is apparently still standing, the morgue has been less lucky. Today the room itself is a ruin; the imposing body slab whisked away into the night.

Abandoned Kings Park Psychiatric Center Morgue


abandoned-kings-park-psychiatric-center-morgue-2 (Images: Cory Seamer)

Somewhere in the belly of the abandoned Kings Park Psychiatric Center lies this disturbing, ruined morgue. Not content with simply slipping into decay, the morgue has evidently been targeted by vandals in recent years. Doors have been ripped off their hinges. The backs of drawers have been kicked out. Graffiti unfurls across every visible surface, swamping the metal containers beneath a looping series of whorls and brightly-coloured whirls. Whatever dignity this place may have once had is long gone.

The centre itself is no better. Where patients once shuffled to and fro, there is now only dust and dirt. On tables where games were played is more graffiti. The whole place has been gutted, torn out, attacked. What remains is not much more than a sad reminder of the people who used to live and work here.

High Royds Asylum Morgue


abandoned-mortuary-fridges-at-high-royds-asylum (Images: freebird ubxjST.)

After High Royds Asylum, situated in the village of Menston northwest of Leeds-Bradford Airport, closed its doors for the last time in 2003, its low, cavernous morgue briefly found fame as a photography mecca. The tiny windows, oppressive arched roof and feeling of being squashed gave the eerie room a wonderfully disconcerting atmosphere; one helped by the rotten and echoing building of which it was a part.

Sadly, this enormous Gothic complex couldn’t be left to stand empty and in 2012 the derelict hospital site was redeveloped into modern housing. Along with everything else, the abandoned morgue was swept away, leaving not even the faintest trace to indicate where it once stood.

Severalls Asylum Morgue


the-abandoned-mortuary-at-severalls-lunatic-asylum-2 (Images: PROJ3CTM4YH3M)

A gloomy building with a dark past, the abandoned Severalls Hospital closed its doors in 1997. It was the final chapter that closed the book on what had been a rather bleak history (certainly in the hospital’s early days). After opening in 1913, Severalls witnessed a period of liberation, when psychiatrists were essentially allowed to practice whatever treatment on patients they saw fit. Without consent being obtained, dozens of patients were given electroshock therapy, while others were lobotomised or otherwise experimented on in the grimmest of conditions. Fittingly for a place of such horrors, the mortuary was suitably bleak.

Crouched inside a low, chambered room, the cadaver fridges huddled in one corner like some glum monolith. Now long since left empty, they nonetheless have a creepy, yawning vibe about them – as if the hospital itself were trying to claim one last victim. Although now fenced off to discourage unwanted visitors, Severalls is still standing; it’s abandoned mortuary still as chilling as ever.

Ellis Island Morgue

abandoned-morgues-ellis-island-ny (Image: Vilseskogen; the abandoned morgue in an off-limits part of Ellis Island)

Ellis Island is rightfully famous as the first landing point for a generation of immigrants coming to America. But there was always a darker side to this gateway to the New World. After a long voyage and a sometimes even longer detention on the island, not everyone made it through the border. Some sadly died before they could start their new lives: hence the eight-body storage facility located on the island.

Although most of Ellis Island has been an active tourist attraction for decades, the abandoned morgue has always been off-limits. With its cramped drawers and sombre air, it’s easy to see why. While Ellis Island is often seen as a symbol of hope and a new life, the derelict mortuary is the opposite: a reminder that dreams sometimes go awry. According to estimations, somewhere in the region of 3,000 bodies passed through this tiny, airless room before Ellis Island was finally shut down. That’s three thousand people who never got to see their ‘promised land’.

Denbigh Asylum Morgue


abandoned-morgues-denbigh-asylum-2 (Images: howzey; the chilling abandoned mortuary at the decaying Denbigh Asylum)

In the beautifully desolate north of Wales lies the abandoned Denbigh asylum. Built in 1848, it housed a permanent population of 1,500 patients and 1,000 staff right up until it was closed in 1995. Ever since, it’s been left to decay: a grand old building now only home to ghosts and one of the world’s creepiest morgues.

Tucked away on the ground floor of the building, the morgue is almost terrifyingly desolate. The old slabs have snapped apart over the last 20 years and mould has reclaimed large tracts of the floor. The atmosphere is heavy and oppressive, and it’s rumoured that the morgue is at least partially haunted. Considering the number of patients who must have passed through its doorway, this probably isn’t surprising. Bumps and muffled voices have supposedly been heard emanating from the empty autopsy room.

Cambridge Military Hospital Morgue


the-abandoned-mortuary-at-cambridge-military-hospital-in-aldershot (Images: The Urban Explorer)

Built in 1879, Cambridge Military Hospital (nothing to do with the town of the same name) in Aldershot served British soldiers injured in the Boer, First and Second World Wars; plus uncountable ‘actions’ and ‘emergencies’ in between. Although its specialists saved thousands of lives over the years, not everyone pulled through. Those who died from their injuries were sent down to the hospital’s small and dingy morgue.

With its narrow walls, wooden doors and tight fit, the morgue was doubtless unnerving enough even on the day it was built. After decades of neglect, it’s positively chilling. The autopsy room is broken and overflowing with debris; the body storage freezers now hanging open as if awaiting their next victim. At some point, someone with a morbid sense of humour left a collection of severed mannequin heads inside. The abandoned hospital is heavily guarded and off-limits.


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About the author: Morris M




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