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London Asylum for the Insane
London Psychiatric Hospital

Dating back to a time before its location was engulfed by London, the London Asylum for the Insane stands as a monument to psychiatric care. While the original building in the complex is no more (having been demolished in 1975), a few buildings dating back to the original hospital still stand; the 1884 Chapel of Hope, the 1902 Medical Examination Building, and the 1920 Recreation Centre stand as relics of the past among the newer, 1960's buildings of the London Psychiatric Hospital.

Location attributes for London Asylum for the Insane
Location   London, Ontario
Built :: Closed   1902 :: 1968
Status   Abandoned
Difficulty   ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Hazards Risk   ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Security Risk   ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
AUE Rating   ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

The facility originally opened in 1870, on the outskirts of London as a working farm, and with 500 beds that were filled immediately. The first superintendent, Dr. Henry Landor, established moral treatment at the facility, and ran the facility so as to be self-sufficient from London, given that the facility was situated in a rural environment. The second superintendent, Dr. Richard Bucke, continued with moral treatment, but also banished the use of alcohol and advocated for the abolition of mechanical restraints. Dr. Bucke also holds the distinction of longest serving superintendent, serving from 1877 to 1902.

Of the old asylum, the Medical Examination Building, had caught my interest the first time I set foot on the London Psychiatric grounds years ago; in part because the main asylum building was no more, and because it had the typical institution, with a mirror design in the wings and a central administrative section. And was boarded up, fenced off, and had cameras pointed at it. Oh, and because security instantly started patrolling and watching the group I was with, simply for even being nearby and looking at the building. It was ruled to be a lost cause at the time, and we moved on after some exterior photos.

So when we were tipped off earlier this year that there was a way in, we were surprised. And then piled into a few cars, made the trek, and looked at the building once again, this time not triggering any sort of security response. With the nearby London Psychiatric Hospital having been closed and all the patients moved, security seemed to care little about the old asylum buildings as we poked around.

So we made our move, and had a successful day of it. We didn't bother with the nearby Recreation Building as we didn't want to push our luck, having already hit the building we were most after.

With the closing of the London Psychiatric Hospital, the future of the site remains uncertain. To lose the remaining buildings of the old asylum would be a shame, however, given the role they played in the evolution of the treatment of mental health in the province.

Thorough Examination - May 2015 (Extra Restricted Content)
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