Cane Hill Asylum

Author Andre Govia - Last updated: 04.08.2009

Chair sitting in one of the upper hallways

Welcome to my Cane hill asylum set ,

Most Urbex crews that have been the late great Cane hill sire will know the nightmare it was to get into ,what with the rambo style guards and the vans with dogs driveing around the place,and the Fence that we all looked for aloose strut to gain entry.

Some more info from the people who know :

Cane hill admin

It was well worth the drama to get in ,this to date is my Fave asylum due to the history and vibe i felt when inside !

Hallways look like this from most floors of the outer wards

Cane Hill was a psychiatric hospital in Coulsdon in the London Borough of Croydon. (grid reference TQ291587) Built to handle patients unable to attend the Springfield and Brookwood Asylums, both of which were filled to capacity, it opened in 1882 as the Third Surrey County Lunatic Asylum. Following a gradual winding down of operations, it closed all but its secure unit in late 1991. It formerly housed up to 2,000 patients, but with Care in the Community and modern medication and sectioning laws, it was heavily underused by the time of its closure. The secure unit moved into what had been the Coulsdon Cottage Hospital building run by asylum. In 2006 it held 23 patients and was run by the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust (SLaM). It closed in February 2008, with the patients and staff being transferred to other hospitals in the SLaM group. The main buildings on the site were designed by Charles Henry Howell and built on a hill-top overlooking Coulsdon and Farthing Downs. It opened in two phases, in 1882 and in 1888. Due to their immense size and relatively undamaged state, they became extremely popular among urban explorers in the 1990s. Fire and structural damage and increased security have reduced its popularity in the UK urban exploration scene recently. In recent years the interior of the buildings have deteriorated greatly. Damage and lack of maintenance has caused rot and water damage to the wooden floors, causing collapse in many of the out-lying buildings. The water tower of the asylum still houses a low-power analogue television repeater belonging to National Grid Wireless. This is now powered by a diesel generator, since there is no longer any mains power supplied to the site after the switchgear was destroyed following an arson attack. There have been proposals to re-develop the site as a housing estate or a business or science park, and plans to convert some of the buildings into a modern medium-security hospital .

A Place of rest

One of the creepy bath areas

However, the hospital is in the middle of the London green belt, so there have been lengthy delays and discussions about the exact nature of any re-development plans. This problem afflicts many former psychiatric hospitals in the UK, as they were often sited on land on the edge of towns in semi-rural areas that are now protected against unrestricted development. West Park Hospital in Epsom is still derelict for the same reasons. During its lengthy operation, a number of notable patients passed through the hospital, including the mother of Charlie Chaplin, and brothers of Michael Caine and David Bowie. The original cover of The Man Who Sold The World by Bowie features the administration block of the hospital

Commode with Cane hill drape

His and Hers

The bath set up was very odd

The last Note has been played

Shame on you NHS

Untouched beds

The hospital’s motto was Aversos Compono Animos, which translates to ‘I bring relief to troubled minds’. The hospital buildings are not listed. English Heritage first considered the buildings as part of their Thematic Review of Hospital Buildings in the 1990s, but listing was not granted. Croydon’s Planning Brief for Cane Hill of March 1998 suggested the retention and re-use of the Administration Block and Chapel but the buildings were not on the local list nor was any part of the site considered a Conservation Area. An attempt to list the buildings again in 2006 failed; it did have local interest (in particular the Administration Block and the Chapel) but better examples of early echelon asylums exist. Cane Hill is not an early echelon asylum; it is a unique example of a transitional type, best described as “Radiating Pavilion”. source: WIKI

Cane hill RIP

Unreal the way the beds have been left

Andre govia


#1HydraAugust 15, 2009, 8:22 pm

Nice photos and use of HDR.

I’ve been in here nine times, but can’t recall any rambo-style guards…?

#2Andre GoviaAugust 16, 2009, 9:11 am

This is one of the critters 🙂

#4swetzAugust 20, 2009, 12:25 pm

Sad is gone..Rambo style guards are now in Hellingly 🙂

#5AnonymousAugust 29, 2009, 10:34 pm

cane hill

#6TahiraSeptember 16, 2009, 12:59 am

hey, wait are these real photos? or were they photoshopped or created to seem more artistic or something? like is this a real place left naturally and effected by decay or is it a place with natural decay, but moved around to seem more artistic??

sorry if these questions are stupid, im just researching for a project 🙂

#7Frits VrielinkOctober 11, 2009, 11:28 am

@ Tahira.

First of all, there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers 😉

All of these photo’s are real. There is some processing added to those, but no fantasy photoshop or something like that. All the buildings has been left behind, forgotten and left to decay.

You can take a look at the forum as well, maybe you find some more information for your project.

Kind regards,

Frits Vrielink

#8Caned StillJanuary 27, 2010, 9:43 am

Just wanted to quote this from the local residents newsletter:


As per the original programme, demolition of the main hospital buildings is now complete (with the exception of the buildings agreed to be retained and some of the minor ancillary structures) but there remains significant land still to be filled because of the voids that have been uncovered when working on the service ducts and basements through the course of the demolition contract.

As a result of the additional work required to fill the holes and create a safe surface an extension of the programme has been agreed with the contractor and the revised programme of works will be completed in March.

Looks like there were more basements and underground tunnels than first thought!!

#9Brian MatiashApril 11, 2010, 5:42 pm

This is a brilliant set of images! Some of the best UrbEx HDR that I have ever seen. Seriously top shelf work!

#10elleMay 14, 2010, 6:02 pm


#11Andre goviaMay 15, 2010, 7:35 am

What photo did you like the most ,i will look to see if i have a high res for you .

Andre govia

#12steveJune 13, 2010, 4:13 pm

great HDR shots, the row of beds is amazing….

#13annaJuly 29, 2010, 1:51 pm

I visited a while back but never managed to get inside! how did you manage to get inside ? Also i was planning a trip soon, but has it been demolished? and does anyone know what parts remain ?

#14mr iron lungAugust 9, 2010, 11:55 pm

my father was in cane hill i remember visiting him in the 80s i still can remember the bars on the windows interesting set of photos

#15JSeptember 14, 2010, 9:59 pm

how did u gain access to the site?
amazing photos 😀

#16AloneOctober 24, 2010, 10:34 pm

I used to keep my horse by the near-by stables for many years, & I just wanted to share my feelings on this place, that have hunted me for many years after my friends & I had entered this hospital and have never spoken about it since as we all shared the same experience once we were all in there. I’m to scared to even talk about now, as I’m worried about what would become…of what we flet & herd that day of many. I don’t know about my friends feelings about this as we don’t speak about it. What I will share with you is, that my horse would always look up at the windows & become very unstable & unrideable. Her eyes told a story I could not explain. JM

#17KatyNovember 16, 2010, 12:24 pm

How did you create these HDR images? and what camera do you use?

Thanks, well done on the photographs, AMAZING!

#18JessMarch 21, 2011, 9:00 pm

Hiya, I am doing a project for uni, I was wondering if gaining access is really that difficult? and if so, do you have any tips?!

    #19Andre GoviaMarch 22, 2011, 5:32 pm

    Hi Jess ,

    Much thanks for your post here about the cane hill asylum,this asylum was demoed 2 years ago ,the only part left is the chaple and the water tower ,none of the asylum wards or buildings are left sorry .


    Andre govia

      #20JessMarch 22, 2011, 7:48 pm

      Oh bummer!! Is there any good derelict hospitals/ asylums around London which you know of and can recommend?

      Thanks, jess

#21Andre goviaMarch 23, 2011, 7:33 am

Well Jess if you hurry you can explore the west park asylum in Epsom (best on the weekend ) they have started demo but still lots to see in this vast complex for sure !

#22TermiteApril 23, 2011, 10:01 pm

I was certified and admitted to an asylum aged just 11 years old.

These pictures bring back very many sad memories and are only a snapshot in time of what we went You had to be a patient to know the real horror and once admitted, their was no escape, we were theirs to do with ass they wished and very much at their mercy!

When you view these pictures, stop seeing dingy dark pictures of an old asylum and try to see the faces of those like myself who suffered within! Think of the tears we cried, our unheard screams when electrocuted, our please for help when experimented on, and those words that nobody ever hear …. ‘help me’!

#23WezOctober 15, 2012, 11:13 am

If i was to take some A-Level students here on a trip, would I have to clear it with anyone first? I.e. the local council or owners? If so where would I find the contact infomation of these people?

#24deeJanuary 20, 2014, 7:16 pm

Not sure how I stumbled upon this website. I lived as a child in South Croydon and remember well Cane Hill this place and many like this have always intrigued me, we know very little of the people who suffered in these places and thank goodness they have been closed down along with the workhouses. The comments by #22Termite, my heart went out to you and brought me to tears and I hope you have found peace in your life.

#25Buffalo BillAugust 29, 2015, 7:01 pm

I was a patient at Cane Hill. On several occasions I had electrodes placed on my testicles much to the hilarity of the staff doctors. I had the last laugh though when stabbed one of the doctors in the neck with 40mg of Haldol. They never went anywhere near my balls after that episode.

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