Stone House Hospital

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Stone House Hospital
Opened 1866
Closed 2005
Current Status Closed
Building Style Corridor Plan
Architect(s) James B Bunning
Location Dartford, Kent
Alternate Names
  • City of London Lunatic Asylum
  • City of London Asylum and Hospital for Mental Disease
  • City of London Mental Hospital


Built after the Commissioners of Lunacy had insisted that the Corporation of London provide its own asylum for pauper lunatics rather than sending them to Bethlem Asylum in Lambeth, the City of London Lunatic Asylum opened in 1866 at Stone, near Dartford.

The yellow brick building - a large, castellated structure in the 'Tudorbethan' style - was situated in extensive grounds. The central administration building contained offices, a grand dining room and a Great Hall (with kitchens adjacent) with a chapel above. The wings on each side of this building contained dormitories, wards and single cells; the one on the east housed male patients and that on the west female patients. A round water tower stood in the centre of the site. A two-storey pavilion block on the west of the site contained the laundry and the mortuary, and another on the east the bakery and workshops. Both pavilions were connected to the main building by covered walkways and both had sleeping accommodation on their upper floors. The Medical Superintendent had his own house (known today as 'The Hollies'). The site had four 'airing grounds', where patients could enjoy the outdoors; these contained outside lavatories (one of which survives today). Needless to say, the sexes were kept segregated. The Asylum had its own cemetery, on the north side of Bow Arrow Lane.

Despite the relatively low number of paupers resident in the City of London area, the Hospital had accommodation for 220 patients. The number of patients from the City gradually declined and patients from other areas were admitted.After a few years the Asylum was full and an extension was planned. A new wing opened in 1875. In 1885 a detached isolation hospital was built at the corner of Cotton and Bow Arrow Lanes. It was known as the 'Cottage Hospital'. In 1887 Stone Lodge Farm and 107 areas of land immediately to the east of the Asylum were purchased. In the same year work began to extend the north side of the main building and the end of the female wing. The 1890 Lunacy Act permitted the admission of private patients and, from 1892, private patients were admitted to the Asylum. They were kept in separate wards from the paupers and were allowed to wear their own clothes; they also received better food. By 1897 the demand for private accommodation was so great that some patients had to be turned away. The income generated from this enterprise enabled further improvements and extensions to be built.

In 1901 a new detached chapel - St Luke's Chapel - was erected opposite the administration block (in 1887 the Commissioners of Lunacy had decreed that chapels in asylums must be detached from the main hospital buildings). The former chapel was converted into a recreation hall with a stage. A clock turret and belfry were built over the north entrance of the main building and three laundry blocks added at the north of the site; a new boiler and engine house were built to the west of these. Two single-storey blocks were added at each end of the south frontage as wards for the sick and infirm. A detached mortuary was built at the northeast of the site.

In 1906 the Asylum was renamed the City of London Asylum and Hospital for Mental Disease. In 1909 a Nurses' Home was added at the southwest of the site. At this time, out of 610 patients, 305 were fee-paying. In 1911 a cricket pavilion was constructed to the north of the new chapel (it has since been demolished). The Superintendent's house was extended in 1912. By 1921 the number of private patients had risen to 357. In 1924 the Asylum and Hospital became the City of London Mental Hospital, after the 1923 Mental Treatment Bill confirmed that the term 'Asylum' would be replaced by 'Mental Hospital'. Minor extensions to the Hospital were built, including a staff dining room, a small ward and a number of rooms, and even an operating theatre.

In 1930 the mental and isolation hospitals run by the Metropolitan Asylums Board and the local Boards of Guardians passed to the control of the County Councils. The Visiting Committee of the Corporation decided not to transfer the administration of the City of London Mental Hospital to the LCC; it remained under the auspices of the Corporation of London until 1948 when the NHS took control. The Hospital was renamed Stone House Hospital. By this time, when it had 643 beds, it contained almost 600 patients, over half of whom were private patients; only 50 had been referred from the City of London, the rest coming from other boroughs.

By 1954 the Hospital had only 564 beds. Its catchment area included the Dartford and Gravesham districts.

In 1971, during a reorganisation of the NHS, the Hospital came under the control of the Dartford and Darenth Hospital Management Committee, along with the Mabledon and Darenth Park Hospitals. In 1973 the NHS Health Boards were reorganised as Area Health Authorities; the hospital group became part of the Dartford and Gravesham Health District. In 1975 another block was added near the Nurses' Home for additional staff accommodation.

In 1982 the Hospital buildings and St Luke's Chapel were Grade II listed. By this time the Hospital had 342 beds. In the late 1980s Archery House was built at the northeast part of the site to house patients with learning disabilities who were being relocated from Darenth Park Hospital, which was undergoing a planned closure. In 1987 the Hospital had 104 beds. In 1998 the Thameslink Healthcare NHS Trust, now in charge of the Hospital, decided its premises were no longer suitable for modern health care and that it should be closed. This decision was inherited by the next team of health care providers, Thames Gateway NHS Trust. In 2003 the West Kent NHS and Social Care Trust began to run down the facilities at the Hospital. It finally closed in 2005 with 145 beds.