PLEASE NOTE: This article is for entertainment purposes only. We do not advise visiting any of the locations on this list. Many of which are dangerous and/or private property, and you may be breaking the law.
Beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the UK’s fraught asylums began to be shut down, often leaving the eerie buildings empty — of the living, at least. Although the state-run mental institutions were meant to provide care for individuals suffering from acute mental disorders, the reality of the situation was much bleaker. Patients — many of them with “afflictions” like homosexuality — were kept at asylums for far longer than necessary, often exacerbating their mental health issues all the while keeping them in institutions known for the poor quality of care.
The Victorian system began to close down in the late 60s, but it wasn’t until the 90s that all of the asylums closed, opening outpatient and community care facilities in their place. Although this new system wasn’t perfect either, the suffering that occurred at asylums all over the UK was put to an end. Now, there are hundreds of these abandoned hospitals and asylums throughout the country, many of them carrying too much historic grief and plight to be repurposed in the future.
The hauntings of these asylums are no joke — many of them are the locations where serious, intensely evil happenings occurred, keeping already suffering people alienated from society. Today, the sites stand as testaments to the longstanding nature of truly negative energy that is the result of human suffering and wrongdoing.
Without further ado, here are the most haunted asylums and hospitals in the UK — ghost hunt with care!
1. Pool Park Asylum | Ruthin, Wales
Located in the small village of Clawddnewydd in North Wales, this former mental hospital hasn’t housed patients since 1989. The manor — complete with a beautiful staircase and intricate details — was a family home in the 1800s before it accommodated overflow patients from Denbigh Insane Asylum in the 30s and 40s.
Paranormal investigators said they heard noises and saw shadowy figures and thrown stones at the asylum — one even said he got an unexplained bruise after his visit — but it should be noted that the building isn’t abandoned, so ghost hunters should get permission before visiting.
Today, the former hospital belongs to Robert Homes, who have not mentioned any plans to demolish or change it. The company has repeatedly warned trespassers from entering not for the history — all artefacts have been collected and catalogued elsewhere — but because the structure is unsafe.
2. Denburgh Insane Asylum | Denbigh, Wales
Not far from Pool Park, Wales’s first insane asylum is now a decrepit and very haunted collection of ruins. Earth pushes up through the concrete floors, wallpaper teases off the walls, and a spooky overgrown courtyard tempts ghost hunters all over the UK. Although the place is closed to the public after the hospital shut in 1995 (having been open since 1848), it’s often visited by paranormal investigators and ghost hunters as it’s considered one of the UK’s most haunted locations.
It’s no surprise this place is haunted, considering that overcrowding was rampant and patients were often subjected to sedation and otherwise abusive care. The remaining spirits are probably also unhappy with the numerous vandalism and arson attacks since its closing, which contributes to the eerily beautiful destitution of the buildings.
Ghost hunters have claimed to hear screeches, laughter, footsteps, and big bangs when they’re inside — in addition to some seeing full-bodied apparitions.
There have been rumblings of the asylum being demolished and turned into a shopping centre or neighbourhood, but progress has been repeatedly stalled, stopped, or postponed, leaving the fate of this fraught campus in the air. For now, security guards and cameras stand by, though that hasn’t stopped many investigators.
3. Newsham Park Hospital | Liverpool, England
Finally, an abandoned hospital you can safely visit! Newsham Park Hospital was converted from an orphanage when it housed up to 1,000 children at a time until the late 1800s. For 100 years it served the community as a hospital, mental institution, morgue, and nursing home.
Perhaps the paranormal activity, like disembodied voices and inexplicable footsteps, comes from its time as an orphanage during World War II when traumatised children were punished harshly and separated from their siblings, rather than cared for with love and empathy.
Ghost hunters can even stay overnight at this abandoned hospital, where the schoolhouse, nurses’ quarters, and chapel are supposedly most active. If you can’t afford the rental fee and the insurance costs, you can pay to attend a public ghost hunt with one of the many ghost hunting companies.
Read more on the hauntings of Newsham Park Hospital
4. Towers Asylum | Leicester, England
One of the more recently used hospitals on our list, Towers Asylum functioned as a psychiatric facility from 1869 to 2013. Formerly called Leicester Borough Lunatic Asylum, the English hospital adapted through many phases of mental health care, including serving as a World War II hospital patient overflow site.
It was also another site of overcrowding and rampant sedation techniques that left the mentally ill in inhumane conditions, in addition to not receiving proper care for their illnesses. The hauntings at Towers Asylum clearly come from these horrific acts — like the metal shackles that were found attached to the walls in the basement — despite the architectural beauty of the building.
Past investigators have witnessed all sorts of paranormal activity here, from disembodied voices, shouts and bangs, and objects being thrown among many other disturbing occurrences. The building was recently open to investigators, however, at the time of writing it’s currently undergoing redevelopment for residential use.
You may also like: The 10 Most Haunted Places in Leicester
5. Barnes Hospital | Cheadle, Greater Manchester, England
This massive gothic-style hospital surrounded by a dark forest is easily one of the UK’s most picturesque abandoned buildings. Perhaps even eerier, the area surrounding the hospital looks like any other modern English town. After housing terminally ill patients with tuberculosis and yellow fever, then serving to treat World War II soldiers, and contemporarily serving as the set for several cult horror films, this place is shackled by a history of death and suffering.
The most interesting part of this haunting is that there were reports of paranormal activity long before the hospital was closed in 1999, like the nurse who said she saw a dead patient walking. Ghost hunters have heard the screams and shouts of the deceased — no surprise to the security guards who have reported seeing people in the windows and hearing the tower bell ring for no reason.
Sadly for paranormal investigators and armchair mediums, the location was replaced by a development of luxury flats, which current residents have reported are filled with issues like freezing temperatures, gas leaks, and damp flooring. Perhaps the former Barnes Hospital residents weren’t ready to give up their eternal homes.
6. Barrow Gurney Hospital | Somerset, England
Barrow Gurney Psychiatric Hospital is perhaps one of the saddest instances of poor care for patients in the UK. Known as one of the dirtiest hospitals in the country, the place transformed into a Royal Navy hospital during World War II, then back to a psychiatric hospital until 2006.
Before it was demolished, the abandoned place was decorated with hauntingly poignant graffiti art and references to the buildings’ history of suffering. With blown-out windows, the wind flowed through this place that once greeted patients with urine-stained chairs, cigarette burns on the floors, and a blighted building structure. In fact, the place closed after a patient was killed by a ceiling that fell through. Now, luxury retirement homes have replaced the site.
7. Thackray Museum of Medicine | Leeds, England
Although it isn’t technically a hospital, Thackray Museum of Medicine has a long history of connection to the world of medicine. It opened in 1861 as a workhouse for poor and homeless people, despite being a “harsh and unwelcoming home”. It grew to include an infirmary, which was closed in the 1990s — but the building didn’t get away unscathed by the paranormal.
Ghost hunters claim to have seen apparitions walking around during the ghost nights that are held after museum hours. Visitors have even been touched by spectral beings and one person reported finding an old coin in an abandoned section of the building.
Visit during the day to learn more about the history of UK medicine, then join a ghost hunting company for a real paranormal investigation!
8. Whitecroft Hospital | Isle of Wight, England
Along with so many of the UK’s former asylums, Whitecroft Hospital closed to patients in 1992. The care provided at this Isle of Wight psychiatric facility was unfortunately no better than many of the other hospitals on this list, as evidenced by the rampant paranormal activity here.
Ghost hunters have reported feeling like they are being watched — far from the creepiest thing considering some have seen apparitions of nurses and doctors roaming the corridors.
Isle of Wight contractors hope to turn the place into a luxurious private residence, but it’s been over 10 years since the hospital’s demolition and still, no accommodation stands.
Ghost hunters may be able to still see the spectral images of the doctor who supposedly walks from the car park toward the building each day, but the hospital itself is gone.
9. Belvoir Park Hospital | Belfast, Northern Ireland
Ghost hunters are warned — there is a lot of paranormal fodder in this former hospital. Regarded as one of the most haunted places in Belfast, the slew of buildings are still filled with patient beds, surgery curtains, and medical documents from its life as a hospital from the early 1900s to 2006.
Security guards reported finding shrines on the hospital grounds and unsettling remains of animals, not to mention the shadowy beings they’ve spotted.
The grounds include a dense forest and several buildings to explore. However, the grounds are now guarded carefully by security, though ghost hunters and urban explorers have been known to get in and easily lose security in the massive set of buildings.
10. Mapperley Hospital | Nottingham, England
Despite being one of the only UK hospitals with adequate care for mental patients, significant suffering and distress still occurred here due to the outdated and ineffective treatments that were accepted at the time.
The hospital experienced overcrowding, but it still worked to provide activities, work, and community for its patients. Nonetheless, since the hospital closed in 1994 and became the Nottingham Healthcare NHS Trust, paranormal activity has been reported.
One womanly ghost has been seen in the corridors. She may be the same one calling employees’ names out from the ether, but no one can be sure. Screeches have also been heard on-site, but ghost tours aren’t available as the location is now a functioning healthcare location.
11. Sunnyside Royal Hospital | Montrose, Scotland
As one of the oldest psychiatric facilities on our list and the oldest in Scotland, you might think this abandoned hospital is completely decrepit, but the reality is quite the opposite.
The building has been maintained quite well, leaving ghost hunters and urban explorers with a treasure trove of wallpapers and old-school architecture. After its opening in 1781 as Montrose Lunatic Asylum, it changed hands several times before becoming Sunnyside Royal Hospital in 1962 and closing in 2011. Before the asylum’s demolition in 2019, ghost hunters were warned from visiting today due to rampant asbestos.
The place is now home to Sunnyside Estate, where luxury flats will fill the old hospital buildings and houses will be erected around the property. Despite its past as a hospital for the mentally ill and its high potential for hauntings, the builders intend on returning the property to its “former glory.”