Napsbury - St Albans UK

Memories of a psychiatric hospital.

Napsbury is a residential area to the West of London Colney in the district of St. Albans in Hertfordshire. It was formerly the site of a major psychiatric hospital. Following the closure of the hospital, the buildings were renovated and a new development created by Crest Nicholson builders.

History of the hospital
The Middlesex County Asylum was founded in 1898, and open from 1905 to 1998. It was designed in a country estate style by architect Rowland Plumbe to house 1,200 residents, although further buildings including nursing homes were added later. The grounds were designed by William Goldring.

The hospital was used as a military hospital during and after the First World War.

At the age of fifteen I was employed at Napsbury Psychiatric Hospital as a porter. I remember being issued with a blue card that entitled me to free meals in the staff canteen. I enjoyed my time working there. I used the money I earned to buy my first electric guitar. I later returned to Napsbury Hospital several times to play in the staff social club.

Check out 1973 photograph below. The first group I gigged with… Pebble Dash. Left to right; Bob Bell, Steve De’ath, Andy Fox and myself Bob Houlston on the far right. The venue was Napsbury Hospital staff social club.

I have many happy memories of Napsbury Hospital. The grounds were beautiful with acres of parkland and mature trees. The psychiatric wards were named after trees.

What is the difference between God and a psychiatrist?
God doesn’t think he’s a psychiatrist! 😉

Best wishes from Bob #==(o )

p.s. Feel free to use “Comment about this page” via link below. I can take constructive praise… honest! 😉

Extra pics taken from Longacres playing field in St Albans:

Plate attached to railings reads: “MOST OF THE COMPONENTS FOR THESE RAILINGS WERE MADE AT THE NAPSBURY HOSPITAL REHABILITATION FACTORY”

The Napsbury Hospital Rehabilitation Factory may well have later been named The Farm Factory. Patients were employed there to make for instance wedding stationery and business cards. Later as the hospital was being reduced the Farm Factory was the home of THE FARM FACTORY RECORDING STUDIOS now relocated in a Welwyn Garden City industrial estate. I played in bands at both venues were we could ‘pump the volume’ to our hearts’ content ! 🙂

This page was added on 05/10/2009.

Comments about this page

  • To Phil Miller. I was a nursing assistant at Napsbury then a Pupil Nurse for about six months around 1977 /78. I worked on a lock up ward called Elm Warm and there was a patient named Miller. I never knew his first names. Everyone called him Miller. He had special needs and was middle aged. He used to do jobs for nurses and he wasn’t treated humanely. Ordered about and used. It was a terrible ward and I saw a lot of mistreatment if patients. I was greatly affected. I saw mistreatment of patients in other wards in Napsbury. It had beautiful grounds and interesting architecture but bad things went on there behind closed doors. I left and got out of nursing after Napsbury. Sorry to burst anyones bubble who enjoyed the place but as a nurse I was witness to human rights infractions and cruelty . When I reported someone I was sent to Coventry. Ignored everywhere I went. Nurses even sisters and charge nurses covered for each other. I was glad when I heard they closed the place but patients were not properly integrated into society and many left to fend for themselves. Same with Shenley Hospital where I also saw awful things and was picked on for intervening. Harperbury was no better whete I started out as a Domestic. It’s great that workers have good memories of these places but I don’t. Miller had dark hair and was heavy set maybe 5ft 10. Not sure. Caucasian. I wonder what happened to him and also Johnny. A handsome middle aged man blind and deaf who walked around feeling the walks and shouting all day and nothing else. Terrible. Been there since age 10. Never helped. Just left. Heartbreaking. A living nightmare. The poor man.

    By Tracey H. (26/11/2017)
  • My Mum worked at Napsbury hospital mid 1970s to 1992 . Made some great friends there. Great memories of the social club as a kid and Vi Pegrum. I remember going up to the wards at the end if shift to pick mum up and some if the lovely old lady residents used to give me a bar if chocolate out of tgeir handbag i was only about 8 or 9 yrs old . A real shame it closed as it was a great community .

    By Clare O'Neill (14/11/2017)
  • I worked at Napsbury for approx 3 months during the hot summer of 1976. I was on a placement from Edgware General and into my second year of training. I remember being on a male locked ward. Also Napsbury was innovative in introducing the concept of crisis intervention. It was a special time, the memories are all there. I ended up being a CPN for many years until retiring a few years ago.
    Napsbury certainly influenced my career path! Those were the good old days of nursing. We worked hard and played hard too.

    By Mary Kelly (16/10/2017)
  • Hi. I worked at Napsbury for only a few years, late seventies early eighties. This ‘blog’ is a fascinating read. People have memories going right back and some great stories. I can’t add much unfortunately. The Farm Factory mentioned was, indeed at the top of the plot, on the way to North Cottages. I remember there was a patient once who nearly brought out the works staff on strike because someone gave him a one-inch paint brush to paint the outside of the Farm Factory building. Apparently he did a cracking job – an ex-council foreman apparently. Spoke of himself in the third person. The print shop was in the main body of the hospital, and even in my days was one of the last commercially operating off-set print shops around. The guy who ran it was amazing and put up with my inquisitiveness and ideas without grumbling. I can remember lots of faces and a few names: Cyril Nash, Nigel Whaley chief nursing officer, Tony Broughton chief administrator who I worked under with the lovely Maureen O’Donovan (?) and another lady (it’s been so long). Geoff in Finance, Ian (?) in wages. And what was the name of the lovely Norwegian lady in the library (!) I remember her. I remember too showing around a gallery owner who wanted to get the feel of the place. He focused on the work of Louis Wain and had an exhibition coming up. We drove in his Alfa Romeo I think, I asked him if this was his first and he said it was his 23rd Alfa! I remember I got LW’s notes out to have a look at them (with a doctor’s permission of course). What happened to them! They should be in an archive somewhere – part of the man’s history. It contained letters from his sisters to and from the Artists’ Benevolent Fund asking for money or materials. I was told stories of the sisters taking any drawings he made straight away to sell them. Don’t know if that was true. A couple of times I dressed as Santa to give out presents in the Sewing Room next to the staff dining room. A lovely Italian lady ran it. I remember the patients just greeting me as ‘Santa’ when I passed them – ‘Hi Santa’, and on with their day. Brilliant! And Tim Soul – what happened to him. Had a band, The Oral Exciters – and they played in the Social Club occasionally, I think I did a couple of disco sessions in there as well. Certainly remember backing up that band with records beforehand in the gaps. Dick Ranger (!) head porter at the time – heavily into supernatural, mediums etc. All good and happy memories and I probably got the names wrong. Sadly I left when yet another NHS re-organisation reared its ugly head and ended up at the District HQ in Finchley. Not enjoyable at all. But I got out of there and did all sorts of things between then and now. I have to say I am quite impressed with what they’d done with the buildings and the land. The development looks very sympathetic with the 100+ year-old gardens and buildings. I remember the Dep Head Gardener coming into my office one day, ‘You like nice things he said, come with me’ He was very excited. We went without any further words down the stairs, across the car park and entrance, to a distant ward block and there by a side entrance a magnolia was growing. ‘There’ he said, ‘ there’s no record of that ever flowering before but look at it now’. And there it was a lemon-scented magnolia creeping up the side of the building with a fabulous flower – what a treat! The gardeners kept fastidious notes. I hope they weren’t lost or destroyed.

    By Peter Embling (07/10/2017)
  • Hi this is quite a strange thing to ask but does anyone know of a man in his 60s who passed away in the nurses residence whilst working at napsbury…. Year unknown.
    Any info welcomed..

    By Sasha 3/10/2017 (03/10/2017)
  • Hi this is quite a strange thing to ask but does anyone know of a man in his 60s who passed away in the nurses residence whilst working at napsbury…. Year unknown.
    Any info welcomed..

    By Sasha (03/10/2017)
  • My great auntie, Olive Turney, was a nurse there sometime during the First World War. Are there any records of her employment or pictures that we can access? Thank you. 

    By Paul Price (31/12/2016)
  • Response to Des Johnston. Yes, I remember your Dad as a Nursing Officer. He was a “cheeky chap”, always had a smile and a cheerful word. I was the Secretary of the School of Nursing from 1973 to 1986, then moved to California and stayed here. The 3 Senior Tutors I worked with were Len Dodd, Carl Hare and Sam Munien. What a shame that Napsbury was pulled down. My husband and I were in St.Albans in 2011 and drove past the development on that land. My son went to Cunningham Hill School, and we lived at Whitecroft then later moved to Studham. What happened to the North Cottages, were they pulled down too?

    By Brenda Brown (née Rowley) (26/11/2016)
  • To Mike O’Donoghue, hello to you, can’t believe that we’re still kicking around after all these years, hope they’ve been good to you. All the best, Jacky Tonge.

    By Jacky Dworak (12/11/2016)
  • I know this is a bit of a longshot but would anyone remember an Annie Deverell as a patient at Napsbury? Annie was my grandmother and I know she was there from 1918 until her death, at the age of 65, in 1941.

    By Janice Pflaum (26/09/2016)
  • My grandparents met working at Napsbury in the early 1920s. My grandfather was from Hertford, but my grandmother and two siblings came down from Yorkshire. Does anyone know how nurses were recruited to Napsbury? Their names were Arthur Sortwell, Fred Harrison and Eliza Harrison.

    By Ann Downs (20/09/2016)
  • Hi, 

    This is a bit of a long shot, but I am wondering if anyone remembers a patient by the name of Frederick Thomas Miller who was admitted to Napsbury in 1953. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    By Phil Miller (29/08/2016)
  • I was at Napsbury from 1983 till 1989 about and would be interested in a reunion. The pics are great.

    By David Cadman (03/08/2016)
  • Hello Maisie Shaughnessy, I remember visiting you in the ward office when I went for walks with my mum and sisters Delia, Kate, baby Ida and brother Tom! We had lovely times and walks around Napsbury. The patients we met were so kind to us, especially Rachel, who bought us sweets in the Hospital Shop, and Royston who scared us but whom we knew to be a kind, loud man! We lived in Romany, 2 Shenley Lane, in a hospital house as my dad Peter worked as a junior psychiatrist at Napsbury from 1974-1982. Sean O’Toole, I am sure I must have met you as child as it seemed that every weekend we would have parties for hospital staff in our house, where the adults played poker and whist, sang, drank,smoked, ate huge curries and anyone who could play an instrument brought it along to play. We often stayed up and talked to the grown ups. Deirdre, Roger and Lindsey Stewart, Robbie, Annick, Tom, David Southgate, Sheila Herrick, Otto and Caroline Cullinan were some of the frequent faces. Other memories… I remember hearing the hospital siren frequently. How massive the hospital towers seemed as a child looking up at them! Playing a jangly old piano in an abandoned wing of the hospital. The summer house with a picture of an angel painted on the inside wall. Having crisps and lemonade in the Social Club on Saturdays with our dad. The isolation wing near the farm. Strawberry and Orbit, the big old horses on pasture near the farm. The stray cats we fed. Maisie, I’d love to see you again, as would my parents. They live near Lewes in E. Sussex, I live in Bath. Please take my email address so we can make contact and reminisce further!

    By Mara Nee Bermingham (21/07/2016)
  • My uncle Jack Newman was a patient in the late 60s to early 70s. He died at the hospital round about 1972 – I’m not sure where he was buried, I guess it was in the local churchyard. If anyone remembers him, I would love to know a bit more about him. He was my mother’s twin brother – they came from a very large family, and money was scarce so he probably hasn’t got a headstone. I would be very grateful if anyone has any information on him. Thank you.

    By Hazel Ball (17/07/2016)
  • George Pemberton worked at Napsbury as a hall porter before he retired. He died in 1970, but the family know nothing of his later life. Does anyone remember/know him please? We are trying to find out where he might have been interred.

    By PP (15/05/2016)
  • I remember you, James Trapp, and the Sherwoods were great friends of my parents and loved dancing.

    By Brian Sparks (28/04/2016)
  • Just a few key words – please contact if they mean anything to you.

    Muriel and Joffre Sparks, Sister and Charge Nurse. Joe Sparks at The Farm. I grew up there from 1945 till 1963 at 34 NC [?North Cottages]. The Victors at Handley Page. Snowy on his bike. Moffatts at 39 NC. Mr Hester the pathologist. Mr Fuller, the pharmacist married to Mary. Their son, Charles. Mr Moore at 33 with a lovely motorcycle. The Vaseys at 32. Dr Patterson. Mr Probert. Mr Hinson with his Javelin. The Herts Show in the field opposite.

    Thanks for reading.

    By Brian Sparks (25/04/2016)
  • My grandmother, Ellen (Nellie) Sheehan, from Bandon, Co. Cork, Ireland, worked at Napsbury from around 1935/6 until she married my grandfather in 1947. Would love to see any staff records/photos from this time.

    By Joanne O'Sullivan (24/04/2016)
  • My parents, Des and Kathleen Johnston, worked at the hospital from 1963 after moving down from the North East. We lived in 5, then 42, North Cottages until around 1974. Dad was a Nursing Officer/ Charge Nurse, whilst Mum was a ward Sister. Would love to hear from anyone who remembers them. Mum passed away in 1987 and Dad followed her on Christmas Day 1993.

    By Des Johnston (04/04/2016)
  • Hello, just a long shot can anyone remember Joyce Phyllis Holsgrove was Wilson?… If anyone can tell me a little of her personalty and her life, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.

    By Mary (18/03/2016)
  • Have many happy memories of Nappo. I worked as a Charge Nurse on Azalea ward in 1983. I remember going out with Jacky Tonge and Zkaren Morgan. 

    By Mike O'Donoghue (16/03/2016)
  • My aunt, Christiana Ashton, 1896-1990, was a Ward Sister at Napsbury for many years. She was also involved with ambulance work at the front line in France during WWI.

    By Dr. Elizabeth Ashton (02/03/2016)
  • Dear Elle Sherwood,

    My mother’s name was Theresa Moran before she married my father. Her surname then became Smith.

    I know her sister also worked at both Napsbury & Harperbury and her name was Mary Moran.

    Not sure if this helps but if it does, please let me know if I can help you with any other information on them both.

    Regards

    Peter Smith

    By Peter Smith (20/02/2016)
  • I was a patient in Cydonia Ward from around 1964 to 1968 and kind Sister Shaughnessy was our Ward Sister. I also remember the kindness of Nurse Goodfellow and Sister ShiAhmed, not forgetting my psychiatrist Dr Richard Gelfer. These wonderful people saved my sanity and my life and enabled me to get my four estranged children into the care of the wonderful National Children’s Home at Harpenden, from where they were able to visit me.

    I am now 83 years of age and have led a happy and successful life since my discharge and aftercare in the 1970s, as have my children. The psychiatric, social and medical care at Napsbury was exceptional and an everlasting credit to the NHS of those times.

    By Jeanne Parker (17/02/2016)
  • Hi, I currently live in a top floor flat in west hall and love Napsbury. I work in psychiatry and although I live in Napsbury, I also feel it was a shame that the old therapeutic community these sites gave to people has been lost. Quite a few colleagues I have remember working at Napsbury fondly.

    I have a funny question. Were there ever 2 young people who used to mess around in the mezzanine of the old hall? 

    Many thanks

    By Danielle Glennon (05/02/2016)
  • My father-in-law was injured in the 1st World War and was brought to the hospital in August 1916.

    By Liz Ridgway (04/02/2016)
  • To Maria Birmingham. Did Peter Birmingham have a boat in Wicklow?

    By Marie Dover Lee (03/02/2016)
  • Nice to hear from people like Maisie and Maria Bermingham. I was Maisie’s staff nurse on Beech Ward in 1975. Peter Bermingham was a registrar then. Wonderful memories, especially playing poker at Peter’s house to the early hours and then being on duty at 7am. Oo

    By Sean O'Toole (16/01/2016)
  • I worked in Napsbury as a student nurse in 1971. I left to get married and then went on to become a psychotherapist. My sister, Evelyn Dover, also worked there in the 50s and 60s. My late aunt, Ellen Jackson, and her late husband also worked there – she as a nurse and he as a stoker. My cousin and her husband (Betty and Michael O’Meara) were also part of the establishment!! We all have great memories of Napsbury.

    By Marie Dover Lee (20/12/2015)
  • My Dad was admitted into Napsbury for one night after he tried to kill himself back around September 12th 1976. He died in January, so I was just trying to piece a few bits together and get some more information about his records. What would have happened to his notes do you think? Also, I’d be keen to hear from anyone who worked around that time in Napsbury 🙂

    By Scott (06/12/2015)
  • My parents, Maurice and Angela, both admitted patients, first met one another at Napsbury, courted, later married, and I was the product of that relationship.  This would have been very late 60s or 1970.  It was a sad beginning, and an even sadder ending, unfortunately.  However, for my own wellbeing, I feel the need to visit the grounds, or what is left of them, to discover where my beginnings very first started, to hopefully achieve some kind of peace.

    By Melanie (30/11/2015)
  • Looking for information on MORAN. Does anyone please remember this surname at Napsbury? Extremely grateful for any information – thank you. 

    By Elle Sherwood (28/11/2015)
  • As next year, 2016, is the 40th anniversary of the class of September 76 commencing training at Napsbury, it would be great if we could try and arrange a reunion. Were you in the class of 76? Or if you know anyone that was, please direct them my way.

    By Michael Gavin (14/10/2015)
  • Dear Michael Gavin
    Many thanks for your comments. I’m afraid it is not possible for us to publish personal data such as phone numbers, however, if anyone reading your comment would like to contact you, I can put them in touch. Our apologies for not publishing this earlier. I’m afraid this site does not have any volunteer editors.

    By Marion Hill (03/03/2017)
  • Mike Gavin:  I was the secretary of the Nurse Training School from 1973 to 1986. I am in touch with Paul Blight if you knew him and wish to contact him. The 3 Senior Nursing Officers I worked with were Len Dodd, Carl Hare and Sammy Munien. I now live in California.

    By Brenda Brown (née Rowley) (17/09/2015)
  • I remember Maria Bermingham and her husband, Peter – I worked with him. I remember your children Kate, Tom and Delia. I would love you to call if you come in to London. I remember the children coming to Acacia Ward. I’d like to hear from you.

    By Maisie Shaughnessy (27/08/2015)
  • I have read many posts and some from people who worked here in the 60s. Do any of you remember a male nurse (or auxiliary) who worked there? He was Spanish and his name was Luis. Full name was Luis Alfredo Megido. He married an Anna Isabel Guerra?

    By Carol Nelson (26/08/2015)
  • Hi. Im trying to contact any one that worked here in 1981 that used the Napsbury Social club. I am try to find a long lost relative and any help would be great

    Thanks

    Ben Ketteridge

    By Ben Ketteridge (19/08/2015)
  • Hi. I am trying to find a nurse who worked at this hospital around 1979-1981 called Kevin Beroo. He was a mauritius guy in his early 20’s. Any information would be very helpful.

    Regards

     

    Ben

    By Ben Ketteridge (17/08/2015)
  • Dear Ben
    Please accept our apologies for the delay in adding your comment. Unfortunately, there are no volunteer editors for this site. Also, I have had to remove your email address as we cannot publish personal data on the site. If anyone reading your comment wishes to contact you, I they can put them in touch with you.

    By Marion Hill (03/03/2017)
  • I just wanted to say that I have a photo album from WW1 and within my photo album there is a photo of Nurse Olive Margaret Burnside that worked at the hospital during WW1. The photo has her name and is dated 1917 the year she started at the hospital. She is standing outside with a patient. If anyone from this web site wants to see my photo pleawse feel free to contact me.

    By Dave Donatelli (15/08/2015)
  • We remember Napsbury very well. We lived in “Romany”, a house on the left as you left the hospital grounds through the front entrance. The Nash family occupied the other side. My husband, Peter Bermingham, was a doctor there and worked with Tom Farewell, Dr Martinez and Dr Cordingley. We were there from 1974 til 1982. We socialised in the social club, the children attended the art classes with the residents and we also made full use of the wonderful grounds for play and recreation. We wonder what happened to social workers Margaret Matthews and David Southgate. We still pop in to the grounds when in London and it always brings back wonderful memories. Would love to hear from anyone who remembers us.

    By Maria Bermingham (07/08/2015)
  • I regret to announce the passing of my wife of 64 years, Mavis Louisa Beak (née Farmer). Much missed by all who knew her.

    By Roy Beak (06/08/2015)
  • To Yvonne Cadogan:  I do remember you training at Napsbury.  Interesting that we both ended up in the U.S.A.  I am in California.  Please contact me if you wish to do so.

    By Brenda Brown (née Rowley) (05/08/2015)
  • I see that a Penny Kegan, who then became Perkins, had put a message on this site. I knew you and lived in Napsbury Cottages, with Phil Lynch at the time. My name is Cindy (then Kiff). I recall you having a little girl Stephanie – would be great if we could get in touch somehow if you get to see this. Bit of a long shot, but fingers crossed.

    By Cindy Marshall (née Kiff) (29/06/2015)
  • My name is Michelle. I went for a job interview as a nurse-aid at Napsbury Hospital in the middle 1980s but I did not take the job as I saw a violent patient – a woman about 66 years old, tall and skinny, banging her head on the shiny brick wall of the inside main  entrance corridor, where the big arch was – so I got scared and did not go back. I went to Cell Barnes Hospital instead, and worked as a nurse-aid there for a while – then left to work in old people’s homes as a nurse-aid.

    It is sad and upsetting that those beautiful buildings and grounds have been taken away – Hill End and Cell Barnes hospitals too. Sounds like a nice childhood to grow up there. Wish Margaret Thatcher had not closed these lovely old Victorian and gothic  hospitals , so sad to see modern housing on the sites now. Even is sad to see Napsbury as flats now. Should have been left as a hospital or just as a hospital museum, with all the beds etc still. I would like to have sat in the big nice gardens feeding all the lovely sweet sparrow birds and have lunch there too. All so sad and upsetting to see these beautiful places now gone and that way of life gone – so many jobs and housing for staff.

    I wished I had thought to get a job there, when I was 18, instead of a part-time cashier in the local supermarket. My school friend worked at Hill End as a nurse-aid and her husband worked at Shenley Hospital as a nurse. She and he now work in the community as healthcare nurses. I think it must have been sad and upsetting too for the patients, and doctors and nurses, who had to leave the big old mental hospitals. Michelle.

    By Michelle (18/04/2015)
  • Hi, I spent a fantastic couple of years at Napsbury working with some superb staff – such as Louis Cabasise, Sammy Lynch, Derick Wallace to name but a few. Lovely memories.

    By Peter Cargill (26/02/2015)
  • For Sister Shaughnessy,

    I was a patient in Arbutus and Apple wards in 1969/early 70s and would like to thank you for your many kindnesses.

    By Joan Greenhouse (24/02/2015)
  • I lived at North Cottages with my parents and brothers from c.1965 – 1972. Dad worked in the builders’ yard, mum was a nurse. They were Tony and Shirley Foster, and presently live in Luton. 

    With reference to burials, there was no burial ground at Napsbury, and there is no central register of burial sites. The best approach for those who know the burial date is to contact local burial grounds and ask if they have a record of the burial. A search without a date might be expensive. St Peter’s Church in London Colney is a possible site for CofE. Otherwise, search for cemeteries around St Albans, and work through them.

    It is possible that some more affluent families took their loved ones home, in which case they could be found in the graveyard near their family home. I am afraid it is a matter of searching until you find the right place.

    By Cathy (19/01/2015)
  • The matron from 1951 until 1960 was Annie Turner, and then the matron was Mrs Bunting. After that nursing officers replaced matrons. There was definitely no cemetery at Napsbury. Thank you for your comments, to the OT who remembers Napsbury staff and myself.

    By Maisie Shaughnessy (19/01/2015)
  • My mum and dad both worked and trained in Napsbury – Sean and Teresa Hanly. We lived in the cottages – lovely memories. Does anyone remember us?

    By Audrey Carter (née Hanly) (11/01/2015)
  • Hello,

    I’m seeking any information on my aunt who worked in some capacity at Napsbury Hospital during the years of early to mid 1950s.

    She may have used a combination of names – Monica Scholes, Monica Scholes-Burns, Monica Hindley or Monica Burns.

    If anyone remembers this lady, or knows of anyone who may be able to lead me to more information, I would greatly appreciate any help.

    Kind regards,

    Liam Fitzgerald

    By Liam Fitzgerald (04/01/2015)
  • Hi:  I was secretary of the Nurse Training School at Napsbury from 1973 until 1986, working under the Senior Tutor and Nurse Tutors. In 1986, I sold up and moved to California where I still live – a good decision. I lived at Whitecroft on the London Road and later in Studham. Napsbury was an impressive place to work, although the winter days without central heating in the school offices were not fun. We had a one-bar electric fire on the wall, so had to wear mittens when we were typing. Those were the days!! The Senior Tutor when I started was Len Dodd, then Carl Hare, then when I left it was Samuel Munien.

    By Brenda Brown (née Rowley) (30/11/2014)
  • My wife Mavis (née Farmer) lived at North Cottages from 1928, until we married in 1951. Her father, Alf, worked there as a charge nurse for very many years until he retired.

    By Roy Beak (24/11/2014)
  • I would like to let everyone know who visits this site, that I am currently researching where the graveyard was in the hospital. If anyone can give me any information, it would be greatly appreciated – also if I find any information I will pass it on.

    By Tony Clarke (13/11/2014)
  • On 7/12/2012 I posted a message on here and I am still in search of tracing the burial records for Napsbury Mental Hospital in 1959. I thought my Gran’s name was Alice Kate Rapley, however I forgot she married before being institutionalised and her full name is Alice Kate Radbourne.

    I have her death certificate and it was certified by G.S. Gladstone and also signed by BWG Cooper. If anyone can provide any information, it would be extremely appreciated.

    By Margaret Mehta (10/11/2014)
  • Hello – my dad Peter worked at Napsbury for 34 years from the 50s to the early 90s, and I was a secretary briefly in the estate offices there in the early 90s.  I remember Sylvette Dolan, one of the directors there, well and her husband Jim.  He spoke about Maisie Shaughnessy who worked there.

    By Heather Troy (11/10/2014)
  • I’m hoping somebody may remember my parents, Mary Egan and James Leonard (both from Ireland), who worked in the hospital as trainee nurses in the early 60s. Any friends or acquaintances please share comments.

    By Shay Leonard (14/09/2014)
  • Can anyone tell me where the Napsbury cemetery is on the hospital site? I’ve been told that the TB ward was at the back of the hospital and all the people that died there were immediately buried. This is for research I’m doing for St.Albans past and present website on Facebook. Thank you.

    By Tony Clarke (12/09/2014)
  • In reply to Paul Sayer.

    I was a CSV (community service volunteer) in 1980 and lived in the main building for nearly a year at Napsbury. I knew a Dave Connolly then, is he the same one you refer to? He drove a small blue van and was a builder at the time but was studying psychology at Napsbury.

    Would love to know anything about any CSVs that worked there in 1980.

    By Kaz (10/09/2014)
  • My grandmother, Charlotte Slack, was a nurse at the psychiatric hospital in the early part of the twentieth century. She was born in 1893, so I would think that it was probably around 1910.

    By Derek Burton (20/08/2014)
  • Hello

    My grandmother, Phyllis Cecilie Gaunt died at Napsbury Hospital in December 1968.  Can anyone direct me to any information about her please?

    By Chris Powell (16/08/2014)
  • My mum, Anne Frances (née Still) worked there as a youngster doing admin and lived on the grounds in one of the houses tucked away toward the railway line. My grandad’s name was Stan Still and he used to be a gardener/groundsman I believe. I remember the grounds and seeing some of the patients roaming around. I got a boomerang stuck in a tree there.

    By Trev (08/08/2014)
  • Hi,

    Can anyone help me with info on my great-grandfather, Archibald Ernest Smart, who died in 1942 at Napsbury with acute bronchitis and anteriosclerosis carcinoma of the stomach? I would be very grateful.

    By Lee Ryan (30/06/2014)
  • Hi, this is a message for Maisie Shaughnessy. I was reading your comment about working at Napsbury Hospital from 1951 to 1984 and you lived in the nurses’ home from 1951 to 1956. I was wondering if you could help me – my aunt, Monica Burns, worked there – she was a matron from 1954 to about 1956. Any information you have, I would be very grateful.

    By Abigail Preston (25/06/2014)
  • I need information about my aunt. She was a ward sister in Napsbury. Her name was Ann Burke and she died in 1968. I have her death cert, but I have no idea where she is buried. She was 29 when she died. She was in Napsbury for a few years before she died and was from Westmeath in Ireland. Can anyone advise me how to find out where she was buried?

    By Fiona Daly (23/06/2014)
  • Hi. Can anyone help me please, I’m trying to find information out about my aunt, who worked at Napsbury hospital from 1954 to about 1956. She was a matron and her name was Monica Burns. Does anybody know where I could find the staff records please? Thank you.

    By Abigail Preston (19/06/2014)
  • Hi, have just found this great site. I was a student OT on placement in 1975 and then returned when I qualified in 1977 – I worked in east OT with Anna Palma and Anne Gittoes Davies (both now deceased). It was a great time and I remember how supportive all the nursing staff were to us OTs and yes, I remember Sister Shaughnessy – she was a great nurse who never tired of answering the questions of students, and sharing her years of experience.

    I also worked with Dr Cordingley, Dr Pariente and Dr Farewell. They were ahead of their time with the Crisis Intervention service they developed. Good memories.

    By Jan Parry (née Dodds) (01/06/2014)
  • I used to know a trainee nurse at Napsbury Hospital in 1968 by the name of Lena McQuaid. Does anyone remember her. They were good times.

    Ian

    By Ian Muir (27/04/2014)
  • Just found this site. I was the home warden/assistant domestic services manager 1984 – 1986 and loved it. Colin Hammond was the manager. It would be great to be in touch with others who worked there at that time.

    By Maggie Bartlett (26/03/2014)
  • How strange we wrote about Napsbury on the same day Sean, as you are my daughter’s uncle.

    By Penny Jones (25/03/2014)
  • I was born at Napsbury cottages in 1938 – my father Jim was night hall porter in the key room, my mother Eva was a staff nurse at Alpha house, both now passed away. Mr Norris was padré at the new Church in the 50s. I was christened in the old Church before it was bombed. The font was then moved to the new Church. I remember playing in the grounds and delivering papers at North Cottages and the doctors’ houses.

    By James Trapp (08/03/2014)
  • Further to my email dated 15th April 2013, I eventually found where my grandfather came to rest. His ashes were scattered in the West Herts crematorium.

    By Louise Southgate (née Burton) (16/02/2014)
  • I too have lovely memories of Napsbury where I grew up from about 1943 until 1956. It was a good time with lots of friends to play with and we had lots of fun. Every Christmas the hospital put on a party for the children. My father (Arthur Lowry) worked at the hospital until his retirement in 1956. My best friend was Barbara Hester, she married and went to live in America. Unfortunately we lost touch but I am in touch with Daphne Oliver. It would be nice to hear from anyone who was around in those days.

    By Pat Jabbari (née Lowry) (24/01/2014)
  • I worked at Napsbury from 1951 to 1984 and lived at the nurses’ home from 1951 to 1956, and at North Cottages from 1956 to 1977. My husband Tom worked at Napsbury from 1950 until he died in 1981. I worked mainly in the east hospital with doctors Farewell and Gelfer. Very few patients died at Napsbury – if they were ill they would go to a general hospital. There is no burial ground in the hospital.

    By Maisie Shaughnessy (12/01/2014)
  • Hi, I’m researching a documentary about someone who claims to have been a patient at Napsbury around 1993/94. I appreciate you cannot give out patient details but I would like to hear from anyone who worked there between 1992-1995 who could at least confirm (or otherwise) that the person I’m researching was there. Thanks x

    By Kate (15/12/2013)
  • Along with many of your comment writers, my Grandmother died in Napsbury the day I was born in 1948. I too am wondering where to get information on patients and where they are buried. Can anyone help please?

    By Michael Cox (14/12/2013)
  • I have enjoyed reading the posts. I trained there from 1973 then qualified in 76. Worked as a staff nurse til 78 when I moved to Wales with my ex Dr Kumar. What a brilliant place to work, I was gutted to read about the fire. Would love to hear from anybody from that era.

    By glynis evans (25/10/2013)
  • About Susie Langridge’s comment above. I remember hearing of a trial which was in St Albans I believe in 1967. Some male psychiatric nurse or nurses were charged with having intercourse with a female patient. I think it happened in Napsbury or another asylum nearby. Has anyone got any information about this trial or similar trials?

    By Ralph (11/10/2013)
  • I started my Nursing training in 1977 and completed it in 1979. Lots of wonderful memories of the hospital and the staff. Good to see people are keeping in touch. Love to hear from anyone who knows or worked with me. Currently living in Australia.

    By John Hilbert (04/10/2013)
  • Back in the early 1960s my mum used to clean for the matron at Napsbury – I always went with her. The matron’s office opened into a walled garden where a large tortoise roamed, and I spent many a happy time searching for this animal. Many years later I ran Whites Workshop in the Farm Factory for 15 years – it was a fantastic job. All these years later I still talk about my experiences as though it was yesterday. I wrote a tribute to a patient in The Hermes in the Aug/Sept 1985 edition.

    By William [Bill] Page (03/10/2013)
  • I trained at Napsbury from Sept 77- Dec 80 when I qualified as a RMN. Had many laughs and cries as I remembered a friend committed suicide where he lived in the Nurses’ home in the main block, above what was the School of Nursing. Social Club was where we went to relax after hard shifts and we pulled our weight, as students had to work on the wards as well as everyone else did. Started on Juniper Ward. I lived in Nurses’ home south then Nurses’ home east. Happy memories. Will have to visit. There is a memorial to a nurse called Dave Connerly who had a RTC. If there are any other nurses from that era, get in touch?

    By Paul Sayer (23/09/2013)
  • Penny, I knew you……….. you lived round the corner and were dating my step brother Steven P. No idea what became of him, but remember you! x

    By Sean Johnson (04/09/2013)
  • Came across this site after looking up napsbury ,I to have many happy memories ,trained there in 1978 with karen mallarky, martin hogwood .We had a right laugh worked hard but partied hard. loved living in nurses home south and later north cottages ,and going to the social club .Such a brilliant multi cultural hospital ,dont think you apprecite it ,till you think over the past ,love to anyone who knew me x

    By Penny Jones (née Keegan) (08/08/2013)
  • Great pictures Bob, I lived in the houses to the north of the hospital ( North Cottages) from 1975~2002, both my parents worked at the hospital. I have fond memories of the social club and spend a lot of my childhood exploring the grounds…. it helped that my dad was the security officer :0). It was such a shame to see it close.

    By Sean Johnson (14/07/2013)
  • My parents and sister worked at Napsbury. Dad was a joiner and Mum and Carol (my sister) nurses. Sadly all have now passed away, Carol my younger sibling in January this year. We lived at North Cottages and my son Philip and I have many happy memories. Len Holten now in Little Rock Arizona was until her untimely death still in contact with Carol. Len also worked at Napsbury.

    By Marilyn Hodsdon (née Robertson) (11/07/2013)
  • Records for the hospital are held by the London Metropolitan Archives

    By serena (05/07/2013)
  • I worked at Napsbury in 1971 in the laundry. It had huge clattering machines – I remember the calendar, for ironing and folding sheets. There were several other teenage girls there whose names I recall. Two years later I worked at Napsbury agsain during college holidays, this time in the Occupational Therapy department, where patients worked and earned small sums of money. The work was sent in by outside firms, for example there were components of lampshades which had to be packed into boxes ready for sale in the shop. One of the patients was Sandra, who had a beuatiful singing voice.

    By Mary (02/07/2013)
  • I recently came across a photo of my grandfather in what looks like the military ward of this hospital during WW1. The other ‘patients’ in the photo are wearing the same style suits as in the photo on this page and one of the nurses has a large red cross on her uniform. I wasn’t aware that my granddad had been injured so it came as a surprise to find this photo. The photo, which is in postcard form, bears the legend ‘Ricardo Studios, London Road, St Albans’. Can anyone tell me if there is any particular reason why the patients are wearing those uniform/suits?

    By Jim Adamson (13/05/2013)
  • I spent 7 fantastic months at the hospital as a foreigner volunteer between 1977-1978, under Mrs Lewis’ supervision. It was quite an experience for a teenager from Lisbon, Portugal. It was tough but extremely interesting and it changed my life. I am thankful for the opportunity of living and work there. I plan to go back and visit Napsbury very soon. 

    By Ana Boulain (24/04/2013)
  • Does anyone remember my grandmother, Julia Wolffe – died aged 90 there in 1964, or my uncle – my mother’s eccentric brother, Gustave Rudolf Wolffe (known as Ralph) and married to Ann. He was born in 1900 and died I think in 1972. Like all close family he was Jewish – died of what (Ralph) and where were both buried?

    By Anthony Scott-Norman (05/04/2013)
  • I think my birth mother may have resided at Napsbury. I was conceived in Harperbury in 1964 and am trying to find out why I and a younger half sibling were conceived in care. My birth mother’s name is Brenda Malcolm, does anyone remember her, or circumstances with ladies in care at the asylum? Please help me, I need to put my anguish to rest. I was fostered at seven days old and I just need to know the truth. I have seen the footage of Harperbury. I am not scared of the truth, I just need to understand. I believe my mother passed away a few years ago, but I only have that information by guessing dates on ancestory sites. Please help me. Susan.

    By Susi Langridge (16/03/2013)
  • I lived at North Cottages from 1967 to 1985. My Father was a maintenance engineer until he sadly passed away in 1989. I have many happy memories of Napsbury, the grounds were superb and, contrary to opinion, it was a wonderful place to spend childhood.

    By Jane O'Donnell (née Brown) (16/03/2013)
  • I am trying to find information regarding my grandfather, Reginald Franklin Roland Burton, and where he is buried. On his death certificate, it states that he died of bronchopneumonia causing the body to be cremated. I have emailed various authorities to establish where he might be buried but to no avail. He died at Napsbury in 1970. Anyone know where the burial site was? Many thanks.

    By Louise Southgate (née Burton) (10/03/2013)
  • I was a student nurse there from 1973 to 1976.

    By Moez (23/02/2013)
  • My grandmother was a patient at Napsbury for many years, she passed away in April 1963. I am keen to see her medical records – can any one advise? I remember visiting as a child, quite a walk from the gate to her building along avenue of rhododendron trees and the long tiled corridors inside; also the locked wards with the nurses with keys clanking on their belts.

    By Jacquelyn Westwood (22/02/2013)
  • To add to my previous entry, I worked at Napsbury in 1981-2 on Lilac Ward. There was a nursing assistant there called Eileen, a Spanish nurse called Romana whose husband also worked there (possibly a nursing officer), and there was a domestic called Donna who went on to do her training. There were also two Philipino nurses called Lily and ?Annie. I recall many of the patients on our ward (female, elderly) and have many good memories of working there.

    By Julie Vuolo (née Baker) (17/02/2013)
  • I also would like to know about burial procedures – my great grandmother, Eliza Farmer, died at Napsbury in March 1916. Hoping someone can help me.

    By Heather Ward (17/11/2012)
  • I also worked at Napsbury before embarking on my registered nurse training at the QEII Welwyn. I was there early 1980s. Bit of an eye opener for a 17 year old but had a lot of good memories. Am researching a book at the moment and came across this website. Have I missed a reunion?

    By Julie Vuolo (09/11/2012)
  • My mother, Mrs.Marjorie Elsie Evans, was a patient at Napsbury for about 5 months in 1952 after having a nervous breakdown. I remember visiting her there with my younger brother and 2 sisters. My little sister was only 18 months old when mum was admitted. I could imagine she enjoyed having a rest & not having to worry about cooking etc. but I do know she also had electric shocks as part of the treatment. Are there documents of the history of patients ?

    By Paula Fischer (née Evans) (07/11/2012)
  • I became involved with Napsbury Hospital in the early 1970s, whilst working for National Westminster Bank. The area health authorities had been reorganised and my bank were successful in tendering for the banking business of Barnet Area Health Authority. My job was to co-ordinate the opening of a sub-branch in the Hospital (near the Almoner’s office ??) for the convenience of the staff. During my frequent visits I was very conscious of the vast building and the beautiful grounds. The grounds were so vast that I recall hearing of the staff wages carriers being ambushed and robbed there some time before I came on the scene.

    By Terry Askew (15/10/2012)
  • Does anyone remember a patient named Francoise de Bourbon-Orleans (the Princess) aka Opal Whiteley? At Napsbury from about 1945 to 1992. I visited her a number of times and became intrigued by her story.

    By Chris Donovan (07/10/2012)
  • I trained as a nurse at Napsbury during the years 1972-1975. I truly enjoyed the social life there. I had many friends from all over the world – I was a young teenage girl and carefree so my friends and I partied hearty and worked our butts off during the day shift there. I gained experience on all the wards since this was part of our practical curriculum. My first ward was Hazel, called then a psycho-geriactric ward, from there I went to Juniper a locked unit for the extremely psychotic female patients. I did Lime ward – my mother was a ward sister on that unit – so of course I worked on the opposite shift to her. Holly was another psycho-geriactric and was a floor over Hazel. Students worked just as hard as anybody else – we did get a break of two weeks every three months or so for actual classroom and theoretical training. It was my first exposure to the workforce and I made good use of it and enjoyed it. I still continue in nursing today in the (USA) with much advanced degrees but, I owe a big “Thank you” to Napsbury for my initiation into the healthcare field which I so love. The grounds at Napsbury were second to none- really, really well manicured and beautiful. Hip, hip hooray! Napsbury – a stepping stone to my life’s career. Thank you – Napsbury team 1972-1975.

    By Yvonne Cadogan (05/09/2012)
  • I would be very grateful to receive any information on how to access staff records as my grandfather Arthur Freeman Piggott was a Staff nurse at Napsbury from approx 1915-1945. My father Laurence was born in North Cottages in the grounds of Napsbury in the 1930s. Any information from these times greatly appreciated.

    By Michele Phillips (02/09/2012)
  • I am another person in search for burial records. My granny Alice Kate Rapley was in Napsbury Hospital and died in there in 1959 at a young age of 60yrs. I purchased her death certificate to find she died of Pneumonia causing body to be buried by members of staff. Hence I have it in my mind that she could be in the grounds but hopefuly not. She is definitely in a pauper’s grave as could not afford a tombstone. My mother is now 81yrs old and it would be lovely if I could find out where her mum was buried and take some pics for her as time is ticking on. Any information would be much appreciated Maggs 🙂

    By Margaret Mehta (27/08/2012)
  • I too would be very interested in find the burial records of my Great-Grandmother, Annie Harriet Dudley. She was a patient at Napsbury Hospital until her death in 1919. Sadly they placed persons with epilepsy- seicures in mental institutions in those days. Can anyone tell me if patients who die at Napsbury were buried on the grounds of the institution and if so where and if not where were they buried. Thank you. Maria

    By Maria A Hessman (01/07/2012)
  • I worked there as an orderly in 1980/81. I still remember I still my first day on a ward. I remember the grounds as well.

    By Brian Aungles (23/06/2012)
  • I did arrive in Napsbury Hospital the 01.05.1967 it was Sunday and the next day I went to see Mr Hunter as he was the boss of the hospital he was a very nice person every one liked him, now I am living in Mapalomas Canary Island but I will never forget my seven years I was working there.U29tC

    By Rosi Mateos (21/03/2012)
  • Hello, I`m Charles Rincon`s daughter:My father works as royal nurse beetween 1959? and 1973 .Tom Hunter I remember my father speaking about yours . Does anyone has information about those years ? It will be very important for me . Thanks

    By Mary (08/03/2012)
  • will be at the reunion in september 2012

    By Kathleen Hayes (née McManus) (21/02/2012)
  • This is a long shot, but I don’t suppose anyone recalls who was in charge of the 1960’s chapel in around 1992? I was one of a group of students who were commissioned to make stained glass windows for it, but sadly I never visited to see them in situ.

    By Lisa (10/02/2012)
  • keep up the good work! i have fond memories of Napsbury. My late father was Chief Nursing Officer there from just after the war until his retirement in 1968. We lived in a “tied” house on the hospital grounds, where i was born in 1951. the hospital was my playground until i joined the navy in 1968. I can remember playing in the rubble of the “old church” that was destroyed in war and the building of the new one. my brother and i had pretty much of a free run, be in the boiler rooms which serviced the hospitals heating and power needs, the endless miles of corridors, the farm buildings and much more .

    By Tom Hunter (26/12/2011)
  • Both my mother and I trained and worked at Napsbury. We have recently heard there is to be a staff reunion in the future. Mum and some friends who also worked there would love to attend. As we no longer live locally, we would appreciate it if you, or anyone you know could provide information about the date of the reunion. Thanks.

    By Rosemary Lee (06/11/2011)
  • worked here briefly early 1987. in fir ward, the scots staff nurse (mark) ensured i made full use of the social club! stunning views and great walks. saw some pics of the staff accommodation in ruins..not much change there then! lol.

    By Alan Dawson (18/09/2011)
  • My grandmother died at the hospital in 1940 and I would like to find burial records. Her name was Rose Theobald. Can anyone help? Were the patients buried in the grounds does anyone know?

    By Sue Taylor (04/05/2011)
  • Great pics, Bob. What year did you start work at Napsbury Mental Hospital? I find it very interesting as my Granny was a patient there and died in Feb 1959 in the Hospital. I am now trying to search for burial records 🙂

    By Maggie (15/03/2011)
  • I trained at Napsbury 1992-1995. It was the best time of my life. Nurses who trained there knew what they were doing. Only work as a nurse part-time now (full-time copper). Bring back places like Napsbury; patients were much better looked after.

    By Paul Vogler (27/01/2011)
  • Congratulations on your project. I worked at Napsbury from 1976–1980 and am looking for lost classmates. Had a wonderful time, and made many wonderful friends. Will give you some memorable tales in the near future

    By Mike Gavin (31/12/2010)

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