St Albans

Hill End Asylum


Hill End Asylum, St Albans, Herts



Hill End Asylum
Post card by Alpha, posted in 1906
Dear Sister. Cheer up I am up out of my illness and should like a line from you both. your Brother Joe xx


 An identical card, with the same message, is held by HALS.


Hill End Hospital, Hill End, St Albans, was founded in 1899 as the Hertfordshire County Mental Hospital and was finally closed in 1997. Extensive records are held at HALS, including earlier documents relating to the estate going back to 1738. It is of particular interest to me because my great grandfather, Jacob Reynolds, was a County Council Alderman on the management committee. This was probably because initially the hospital had its own farm. It also has sadder memories, as my daughter Lucy was a patient there in 1985, and died while on home leave. The 1912 Kelly's Directory records:

The Herts County Asylum at Hill End, St Peter's Rural parish, was erected by the County Council for patients belonging to unions in the county of Herts, and was opened 7 April 1899; two new wings were added in 1908, and the asylum now provides for 830 patients. The estate comprises about 225 acres, and adjoins the Hill End station of the Great Northern railway.

The 1949 Kelly's Directory of St Albans records:

Hill End Hospital was erected by the Hertfordshire County Council; the estate comprises about 580 acres, and the Hill End railway station, Eastern Region, adjoins it; the hospital was opened in 1899; two blocks were opened in 1909 and another in 1917;  further additions were made 1934 and 1939, making the total capacity of the hospital 1,232 patients.

Nurses at Hill End Hospita, St Albans, 1904


Monochrome photographic print mounted on board, 268 x 213 mm.
Group of nurses in uniform, Hill End Hospital, St Albans, 1904.

By A. Montiville-Evans

St Albans Museum Image

For information on what has happened to the site see the Highfield Park Trust web site. [Note the name which arises because "politically correct" zealots believed that the name "Hill End" should be buried in history in the same way that earlier generations hid their mentally ill in the original asylum.]

Detail from 6" to 1 Mile Ordnance Survey Map circa 1920.


See The Cemetery, Hill End Hospital, St Albans, 20th Century

See also
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
for information on the other long stay mental hospitals in the area.


Important web site


with information on surviving records, etc.

Barbara Jeffery (barbjeffery @t from Australia writes: My mother was sent to Hill End Hospital in the mid 1940s to recuperate following surgery at St Bart's in London. All the other patients seemed to be there for similar reasons. Even padded cells had been converted into post-op wards! Unfortunately, whilst there, my mother caught scarlet fever - quite serious in those days.  She always wondered what had become of the mental patients during this period, or had only a portion of the hospital been used? 

The Web site stalbansoutofsightoutofmind includes a useful history of the hospital and reports that in 1939 "the majority of the mental patients were discharged or removed to other hospitals - 302 to Wallingford, 316 to Napsbury, 346 to Three Counties, 198 to Narborough, 38 patients discharged or released on trial - except for about 60 useful ones." I assume the useful ones were reliable patients who worked in the hospital - for instance inthe laundry. , 


Hill End Asylum Front View

Published by Alpha, St Albans

A view of the asylum, taken about 1904, looking at the North Fron. The entrance building and offices can be seen in front of the Water tower while the chapel is to the right of the picture.

(copy of this card known posted 1905)

Prior to Hill End being built Hertfordshire patients were treated at the Three Counties Asylum (Beds, Herts & Hunts) at Arlesey

Postcard by Bedwell circa 1904


If you can add to the information given above tell me.

St Albans Home Page

October 2010   Out of sight link, ref to second "Joe" card, removal of Brickworks Link
November 2013   Second picture - and Wikimedia Common links
May 2014   Addition posting info on post card