History

Saint Augustine’s Hospital, opened in 1875 as the Kent County Lunatic Asylum (Until 1920, when it became the Kent County Mental Hospital), was a psychiatric hospital in Chartham, Kent.

Designed by the London firm of architects J. Giles and Gough, construction of the original 120-acre site was finished in 1876 and cost £211,852. It was built to house 870 patients, but was gradually expanded.

At it’s peak, the hospital was it’s own, self-contained village. It had its own fire brigade, gas works, grave yard, church, butcher, baker, workshops and farm, even its own cricket team and band. The farm was worked by male patients, while female patients worked the laundry and were seamstresses.

In 1948 it became part of the new National Health Service. It spanned 300 acres, changed name to St Augustine’s Hospital, included a farm, residencies for 73 staff, with new blocks and facilities for patients. It would eventually house more than 2,000 patients.

Some events between 1975 and 1993 you can see pictures of in our Photos section are:

  • 1976 – Fete held on the grounds
  • 1982 – Summer garden party held on the grounds
  • 1983 – Incident involving a patient stealing a Porters van
  • 1984 – Visit by Princess Anne to open the Stables
  • 1985 – New Generator installed
  • 1986 – Refurbishment of the chimney next to the water tower
  • 1986 – New workshop installed in the old stores
  • 1987 – Damage from the Hurricane that year

St Augustine’s Hospital was closed in 1993 as part of the community care programme. In 1997 development of the site for housing was begun. A few of the hospital buildings, including the administration block, the water tower, and the chapel, were retained but the rest were demolished. Although Canterbury City Council suggested that “a change of name would help in creating a new sense of identity”, the site is known as St Augustine’s Estate

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15 thoughts on “History

  1. My grandparents Alfred and Elizabeth (Lissette) Reardon worked/in charge during a period I think 1930s – 1950s. My mum did her Psychiatric Nurse training in 1958 onwards

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  2. my nan LUCY PATRICIA ALICE MILLS was a patient in 1962 onwards after trying to take an overdose due to the loss of her father. if anyone has any info i would be very grateful.

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  3. I think my grandad was a patient there for a while,I remember going to visit him when I was about 8 I,m 51 now, how do I find out more

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  4. I was a patient at Redwood House aged 13 years and did schooling at the next door building Beech House, from Friday 20th October 1967 until 23rd February 1968. In those days I was known as Andrew Nichols, and at home I normally attended Craylands Secondary School, Timberlog Lane, Basildon. If there is anyone (staff or fellow patients) I’d love to hear from them. Initially via email. Andrea (formerly Andrew) Nichols, Basildon,Essex.

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  5. Unfortunately the hospital was the subject of an inquiry based on the abuse, neglect and degrading treatment of patients.

    It’s good that people have fond memories of this place but for others it was a place or torture.

    I enjoyed looking at the site in any case.

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    • Sorry but that is a very misleading comment. The vast majority of staff were good, caring people and the vast majority of patients benefited from there time in the hospital. It would be incorrect to say that there were not isolated incidents of staff and patient bullying and poor practice, however the enquiry should be seen in the wider context. Since the mid 1960s there began a concerted political/academic/media campaign against anything seen as part of an older establishment order. Asylums were largely a Victorian and early 20th C. initiative and therefore these came under an increasing weight of attack through the 1980s and by the early 1990s many were closed and the remainder were soon to follow. Any whiff of malpractice or abuse became front page news and a BBC hit piece. All the thousands of positive patient experiences and outcomes were never a factor. It was all about building momentum to force the closure of these worthwhile institutions. I have not met anyone – staff or patient – who has experienced both systems who would say the latter is an improvement.

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      • Do you have any statistics backing the fact that patients were benefited?

        To say that one bad system is less worse than another doesn’t really cut it.

        Look at all the comments here. Almost everyone are staff or there relations reminiscing about the good old days. Where are all the thankful patients?

        People weren’t incarcerated in this establishment because they wanted to be. I wonder if one of your family had been given forced Electic shocks to their brain for no particular reason whether you’d consider the place with such nostalgia.

        I’m happy that you have great memories of the hospital but for others it was a living hell.

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      • Hi, i was a frequent inpatient in the hospital from my first admission after an attempted suicide in the early Eighties right up until it’s closure in 1993. In fact I was an inpatient on the last day it was open, being driven to St.Mart8ns, the new wards, in a minibus. I was horrified at what awaited me! Gone were the sprawling lawns and space for recuperating and recovery from the wonderful grounds, into a seemingly underground warren of narrow corridors and oppressive atmosphere. I was sad to see the hospital close. I had electric shock treatment, among a number of treatments, but found the art therapy department an absolute life-saver. The staff and the many wonderful fellow patients I met while on the wards are remembered with great affection and gratitude.

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  6. My grandfather William Jones was admitted in about 1932 with the after effects of shell shock from WW1. I think he was a patient until his death in the 1940s. Does anyone know where the death would have been registered? I can’t find any record in the Kent records

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    • MY Great Uncle was there also following WW1 from 1919 – 1964 when he died and I obtained his death
      certificate. His death was registered in the Sub-district of Bridge in the County of Kent. Hope this helps. I also obtained some of his medical records from the Kent Archives at Maidstone, Kent

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      • Thanks . I didnt know where the deaths were registered but I did know where the hospital records were kept

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      • I am trying to find the last resting place of my relative who was a patient of st augustines until her death in 1974 . I have contacted Kent archives at Maidstone but they tell me they gave no records . Can you tell me how you obtained the medical records and who you contacted ?

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  7. Jennifer Clark you may have met my Mum in St.A’s ( even calling it that brings back memories). She was an inpatient for around 6 admissions between the early ‘70’s and 1990, when she stayed in for 6 months after an attempted suicide – she was Brenda Miles. Her father Alf Upton was also admitted regularly for bi-polar disorder- he was captured early in WW2 in France and sent to POW camps in Germany and his ordeal affected him until he passed away in St Augustine’s around 1978.

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