St Andrew's Hospital; 1814-1998; Thorpe St Andrew, Norfolk

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St Andrew's Hospital; 1814-1998; Thorpe St Andrew, Norfolk

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  • Norfolk County Lunatic Asylum; 1814-1915
  • Norfolk Mental Hospital; 1920-1923

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Dates of existence



On 11 October 1808 it was resolved by the Norfolk Quarter Sessions that the next General Quarter Sessions of the Peace 'take into consideration the expediency and propriety of providing a [County] Lunatic Asylum ...' following provisions contained in An Act for the Better Care and Maintenance of Lunatics being Paupers or Criminals in England, 48 Geo. III c.96 (1808). Magistrates were requested to obtain and transmit to the Clerk of the Peace a list of all the lunatics and other insane persons in the county and in July 1809 a committee was appointed 'for the purpose of making inquiry into the number of idiots and lunatic paupers ...'. The committee reported that there were 153 lunatics in the county and it was resolved to defer the consideration of 'the expediency and propriety of providing a lunatic asylum'.
In October 1810 consideration for the provision of an asylum was resumed and a committee of nine was appointed 'to make enquiry and to consider the best means for building, erecting and managing' such an asylum. The committee reported that the asylum 'should be erected as near the City of Norwich as can be so as to be within the County ...' and that the County Surveyor had prepared a plan for an asylum capable of receiving 180 lunatics which could be enlarged to hold 300. The estimated cost of the institution was £20,000.
In April 1811 the Visiting Justices (as the Committee had been renamed) were able to report the purchase of five acres of freehold land at Thorpe at a cost of £600 and in October of that year they had taken possession of the site and that they were 'exerting themselves to keep down the expence of the building by open contract for every branch of the work and by avoiding every species of ornament ...'. Building work commenced early in 1812 and in October 1813 the Visiting Justices were able to report that the asylum would be ready for the reception of patients at Christmas.
However it was not until April 1814 that the asylum was ready to receive 40 male patients. By July the asylum was ready for female patients and in October rules and orders for the regulation and good government of the asylum were prepared. In 1815 the Visiting Justices declared the final cost of constructing the asylum to be £35,221 2s. 7d.
The subsequent development of the County Asylum to the beginning of the present century is given briefly in D.G. Thomson, 'The Norfolk County Asylum, 1814-1903', (1903): for a copy, see SAH 323. During World War 1 the hospital was used by the military authorities as a War Hospital. Details of this period in the hospital's history are to be found in the Annual Reports, 1915-1920. Patients of the Asylum were moved to other asylums in the region and county patients were admitted to the Norwich City Asylum. The Medical Superintendent became Officer Commanding the Hospital until 1919 when control of the hospital reverted to the control of a Committee of Visitors.
The Asylum became known as the Norfolk Mental Hospital in 1920 and the name was again changed to its present title, St Andrew's Hospital, in 1923. Following the National Health Service Act of 1946 the hospital passed from the county to central government control and became administered by the East Anglian Region, Group 7 Hospital Management Committee. Control passed to the Norfolk Area Health Authority in 1974 following the National Health Service Re-organisation Act of 1973.
The St Andrew's Hospital site is situated either side of Yarmouth Road in Thorpe St Andrew, about 3 miles east of Norwich City Centre. The Hospital was closed in June 1998. The North Side (the Men's Hospital) is used by the NHS as offices. The South Side (the Women's Hospital) has been converted into luxury apartments.
The Hospital Burial Ground lies to the east of the North Side block and can be found with some difficulty. It is a long thin rectangle of land with trees along all sides. The area has been developed as a business park and the Burial Ground is now hemmed in by modern buildings. It is on Memorial Way, Thorpe Business Park, near the junction of the A47 (Norwich Southern By-Pass) and the A1042.
It is understood that at one time each grave had a metal plaque giving its number but that in the 1970s the governing body of the hospital made the decision (against the advice of the Chaplain and various members of staff) to sell these plaques as scrap metal. The result is that now it is not possible to know exactly where in the burial ground a particular individual is buried.
There is a memorial, dedicated by the Archdeacon of Norwich, in the centre of the Burial Ground. On one side of the memorial is an inscription commemorating all the patients and staff of the Hospital. On the other side is an inscription which reads: 'In special remembrance of the Polish Community who first came to St Andrews when it was a military hospital during the Second World War 1939/1945 and whose lives centred around it long afterwards.'


Thorpe St Andrew, Norfolk

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Created on: 17/01/2003 by Drojd. Modified 20/06/2022 by Droab.




Thomson, D.G., 'The Norfolk County Asylum, 1814-1903', 1903 (SAH 323); annual reports 1906-1921 (SAH 32)

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