Brookwood Hospital, Woking, History


Brookwood Asylum, Surrey History Centre collections

Brookwood Hospital was opened on 17 June 1867 under the title Brookwood Asylum. It was sited on 150 acres of land which lay between the Basingstoke canal and the village of Knaphill, four miles west of Woking. It was the county’s second County Asylum to complement the county’s first asylum, Springfield in Tooting, which had reached capacity.

Brookwood could hold 650 pauper lunatics, whose maintenance was mostly paid by poor law unions, and patients were received from across the county. The hospital was governed by a succession of different authorities. Initially annual and quarterly reports were presented to Surrey Quarter Sessions by a visiting committee that was directly responsible for the running of the hospital. In 1889 authority passed from Surrey Quarter Sessions to the new Surrey County Council.

In 1948 the Brookwood Hospital Management Committee was formed, which reported to the new South West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board. The hospital was referred to as Brookwood Asylum or Surrey County Lunatic Asylum interchangeably until 1919, when it was officially renamed Brookwood Hospital.

During the 127 years of its operation, the hospital developed considerably in fabric and infrastructure. Major openings included that of Florence House in 1875, a new chapel seating 800 in 1903, a reception hospital in 1930 and a library and conference centre in 1967. Following opening of the sick hospital in 1938, patient capacity peaked at 1,753.

The hospital closed in 1994.

Click here to find out more about the large collection of records from Brookwood Hospital held at Surrey History Centre.

2018 marked the 20th anniversary of the creation of Surrey Heritage and the opening of its new headquarters, Surrey History Centre, in Woking. It was also the 70th anniversary of the appointment of Surrey County Council’s first professional archivist in 1948.

To mark the anniversary, 70 of Surrey History Centre’s users, depositors, volunteers, partners, supporters and staff (past and present) were invited to nominate their favourite document or archaeological find with the reason for their choice.

Jane Hamlett, Professor of Modern British History, The Department of History, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, and Alison Craze, a researcher at Surrey History Centre, both chose a photograph album, dated 1881, belonging to Mrs H Brushfield, wife of the first medical superintendent at Brookwood Hospital. SHC ref 3043/1/20/7. Listen to their different reasons for choosing this album.

Click on the link below to listen to Jane Hamlett.

Jane Hamlett talks about a photograph album assembled in the late nineteenth century by Mrs Brushfield, the wife of the superintendent of Brookwood Asylum

Download a pdf (PDF) copy of a transcript of Jane’s reading.

Click on the link below to listen to Alison Craze

Alison Craze talks about a photograph album assembled in the late nineteenth century by Mrs Brushfield, the wife of the superintendent of Brookwood Asylum

Download a pdf (PDF) copy of a transcript of Alison’s reading.

More Information

Introduction to Mental Health Hospitals in Surrey

Early Private Mental Asylums

The Epsom Cluster

Long Grove Hospital, Epsom, History

Manor Asylum, Epsom, History

St Ebba’s Hospital, Epsom, History

West Park Hospital, Epsom, History

Holloway Sanatorium, Egham, History

Netherne Hospital, Coulsdon, History

The Royal Earlswood Asylum, Redhill, History

Springfield Asylum

To find out more about the history of Disability and Mental Health in Surrey click here.