Bristol Lunatic Asylum

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Bristol Lunatic Asylum
Opened 1861
Closed 1994
Current Status Preserved
Building Style Pavilion Plan
Architect(s) Henry Crisp
Location Fishponds, Bristol
Alternate Names
  • Beaufort War Hospital
  • Glenside Hospital
  • Blackberry Hill Hospital


From 1809 Bristol Corporation had a duty to look after pauper lunatics. In 1845 the Lunatics Act made it mandatory. The Corporation were told they had to build a purpose built asylum. They were using St Peters Hospital in the center of town but it was not fit for purpose and very overcrowded. Bristol’s Lunatic Asylum opened in 1861. A great stone building with a large central house containing the administration, extending from which were many long, well-lit and airy wards. There was accommodation for staff, out buildings and all the land needed for a self-sufficient community. A farm with pigs, chickens and fields for vegetables. An orchard, large green houses and a team of gardeners. Apart the medical superintendant, nurses or male attendants, there were staff running the kitchen, laundry, and sewing room. There were butchers, bakers, painters and decorators, engineers, carpenters, and stonemasons. Like many large Victorian houses, it was brimming with activity.

From 1915- 1918 the hospital became Beaufort War Hospital, one of many hospitals receiving wounded soldiers from the front. It was here the artist Stanley Spencer was a medical orderly. Many of his paintings at Sandham Memorial Chapel at Burghclere, near Newbury, are based on his memories of life at Beaufort War Hospital.

In 1919 following the cessation of hostilities, the hospital returned to its former mental health brief, later becoming known as Glenside Hospital under the NHS reforms of the 1950s. In January 1993, Glenside and neighbouring Manor Park Hospital merged to become the jointly named Blackberry Hill Hospital. Patients of Glenside were assessed for capability, with many placed within the Care in the Community programme, while the residual were moved into new buildings constructed on the former Manor Park site for their long term care. From 1992 the hospital began closing wards, and the site was converted into the Avon and Gloucestershire College of Health in a phased program over three years. The final patients left Glenside in 1994.


Glenside Hospital Museum is located in Bristol within the grounds of the old hospital, a Grade II listed building. The Museum is open free to the public every Wednesday and Saturday morning from 10.00am–12.30pm, or at other times by arrangement. Museum website