The Royal Earlswood Asylum, Redhill, History

The Royal Earlswood Hospital, formerly known as Earlswood Asylum for Idiots and Imbeciles, was founded in 1847, and established at Park House, Highgate in 1848 when fifty patients were admitted. By 1849, 145 patients had been admitted, and the accommodation was fast becoming insufficient. A ‘model asylum’ at Earlswood near Reigate was planned and William Bonython Moffat, the architect and partner of Sir George Gilbert Scott, was asked to design the institution. The move to Earlswood took place in 1855. From 1855, the number of inmates was usually about 500. The hospital closed in 1997.

View of Royal Earlswood Hospital, SHC ref 8835/1/26

View of Royal Earlswood Hospital, SHC ref 8835/1/26

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.

Dr David Wright, Professor of History & Canada Research Chair in the History of Health Policy, McGill University, Montréal, Canada, chose a portrait of a patient at the Royal Earlswood Asylum, Redhill, taken by Dr John Langdon Down, a pioneer in the diagnosis of Down Syndrome.

Click on the link below to listen to Dr Wright talk about Royal Earlswood Asylum and Dr John Langdon Down.

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

Read more about one of its famous inmates, James Henry Pullen.

Find out about the records for Royal Earslwood held at Surrey History Centre.

Introduction to Mental Health Hospitals in Surrey

Early Private Mental Asylums

Brookwood Hospital, Woking, History

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

Springfield Asylum

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