St Augustine’s psychiatric hospital in Chartham closed its doors in 1993 – A few of the hospital buildings were retained and the rest was demolished

St Augustine’s Hospital, founded in 1875 on a 120-acre estate near Chartham, Kent, was meticulously intended as a therapeutic setting for mentally ill patients from across Kent.

It was also known as the Kent County Lunatic Asylum (1875-1920) and the Kent County Mental Hospital (1920-1948). The hospital was renamed St Augustine’s Hospital once it became a member of the National Health Service in 1948. Photographs by Jason Rogers/Flickr

It is listed under the Canterbury Hospitals category and is located in Chartham Down Chartham, Canterbury, Kent.

When it became evident in the early 1870s that the Kent County Asylum at Barming Heath, Maidstone, was no longer large enough to house all of the county’s pauper lunatics, a search for a site for a second county asylum started, since the 1845 Lunacy Act made providing asylums mandatory.

Often, St. Augustine’s took patients from surrounding counties who could not be housed in local asylums.

A 120-acre (49-hectare) location on Chartham Downs, three miles south of Canterbury, was selected. It met the conditions established by the Commissioners in Lunacy.

A position on lofty ground with bright prospects and enough room to give convicts with jobs and enjoyment while protecting them from being observed or bothered by strangers. It was also advantageously located near a railway station, in the center of its catchment region, and not far from the next big town.

The hospital became a self-contained village, with its own farm, workshops, baker, butcher, fire-brigade, church, graveyard, gasworks, cricket team, band, etc.

The buildings were created by Gough and J. Giles, a London architectural partnership that was one of the most successful asylum architects, winning eight of the sixteen contests he participated and finishing in second in four. The structures were finished in 1876 for a total cost of £211,852.

Originally designed to house 870 patients, the hospital rapidly grew to 300 acres, including a farm, and 73 staff apartments, as well as additional blocks and patient amenities, by 1948.

There would eventually be 2,000 patients. Electroconvulsive therapy and psychosurgery were two of the innovative treatments employed at the hospital at the time.

A Victorian asylum designed by the architects, Giles, and Gough.
During World War I, patients from a number of counties were transferred to Chartham as a result of their usual hospital being requisitioned by military authorities.

During WWI, the facility accepted patients from other regions of the nation while their hospitals were used for military casualties. After the war, they had a number of service patients (37 in 1922), ex-servicemen with particular rights. During WWII, the Emergency Medical Service took over a portion of the hospital for military usage.

The hospital was also part of the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) during World War II.
St Augustine’s hospital closed in 1993.
A few of the hospital buildings were retained and the rest were demolished.

St Augustine’s Hospital closed in 1993, and the site is currently occupied by residences, while some of the old hospital structures still stand. The development of the housing site began in 1997. A few hospital structures, including the administration building, water tower, and chapel, were saved, while the rest were razed.

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