Building record MYO4241 - Bootham Park Hosptial: Medical Superintendent's House


County Lunatic Asylum, now an NHS mental health hospital. Medical Superintendent's House 1862-3 with 1908 extension. MATERIALS: orange brick, sandstone dressings, slate roofs PLAN: the Medical Superintendent's house is of two storeys and a small attic with a single-storey service range to the rear. It stands at the south-east end of the multi-phase hospital complex and is linked by a single-bay, two-storey extension to the 1908 extension at the south-east end of the long, two-storey, 1817 range. EXTERIOR: this two-storey house with a small attic is built of orange brick in Flemish bond with a stone band between ground and first floors, a narrow first-floor sill band, a heavy modillion cornice and a pyramidal roof. The south-east front elevation is of three bays with a projecting narrower central bay with a triangular pediment. The segmental-arched windows have moulded stone surrounds with giant keystones; those to the left bay are blind; the other windows have two-over-two pane sashes. The central doorway has a stone surround with pilasters and deep entablature. It has a door of six fielded panels with a rectangular over-light. In front of the building and parallel to it is a modern, brick-built ramp. The south-west side elevation is originally of four bays with a two-bay extension copying the original details to the left with a lower pyramidal roof. There is a large brick stack in the junction between the two pyramidal roofs. The six first-floor windows are similar to those in the front elevation. On the ground floor are three canted-bay windows with dentil cornices. The north-east elevation is partially obscured behind a later yard wall. The modillion cornice is continued round, but the stone bands are replaced by brick on this elevation. A modern fire door with external fire escape has been inserted on the first floor with external steel fire escape staircase. On the north-west side, to the rear of the yard, is an original single-storey range of outbuildings. The yard also contains a modern garage in the east corner of the yard. INTERIOR: the interior plan form is still readable, although there has been some sub-division of original rooms by modern partition walls and screens. Fixtures and fittings of interest include the original open-well staircase with a swept timber handrail and decorative cast-iron balusters, panelled doors and architraves. Excluded from the listing are: the modern brick-built ramp in front of the main, south-east elevation, the modern single-storey ward building attached to the north-west side of the house behind the 1908 extension, the modern external fire escape to the north-east side elevation of the house wall, the yard wall and the modern garage building in the east corner of the yard.


Grid reference Centred SE 6016 5280 (21m by 26m)
Map sheet SE65SW
Civil Parish York, City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

York Lunatic Asylum was only the fifth public mental health hospital founded in England. In 1773 John Carr was appointed as the architect. He designed an asylum to house 54 patients in the manner of a large Palladian house. Building work began in 1774, but construction was slow due to money shortages and the building was not completed until 1777 when the first patients were admitted under the care of Dr A Hunter.

Although the asylum had been established with good intentions, and its rules of management had attempted to safeguard against abuses, by the last decade of the C18 conditions were appalling and management corrupt. The death of Hannah Mills, a Quaker, in 1790 led directly to the Quakers founding The Retreat in York in 1796, which championed more humane treatment methods. The long north-east range was built for female patients in 1817 to designs by the York-based architects Charles Watson and James Pigott Pritchett. The original front building was then used only for male patients. Subsequently further buildings were added as the asylum expanded. These included provision of accommodation for paupers after the 1845 Lunatics Act made such provision compulsory. In 1858 Dr Frederick Needham was appointed Medical Superintendent and remained until 1874. He had progressive ideas and championed the perception of the asylum as a curative hospital rather than a prison, which led to physical changes on the site. Heavy window and fire guards were removed, high walls round airing courts replaced with low walls and hidden moats, new furniture was installed, curtains hung, cages of birds, hanging flower baskets and pictures added to create a ‘civilised’ environment. Needham also oversaw the construction of two new pauper wards replacing the earlier refractory/pauper wards to the north-west side of the site in 1861-62, and the Medical Superintendent’s house in 1862-63 on the south-east side of the 1817 range.

In the early C20 the asylum began to move towards a wealthier class of patient and in 1904 it changed its name from York Lunatic Asylum to the more respectable Bootham Park Hospital. In 1908 an extension for affluent female patients was built to designs by York architect and City Surveyor, Alfred Creer, which linked the 1817 range and the Medical Superintendent’s house.

In 1948 Bootham Park Hospital was included in the newly created National Health Service (NHS). In 2015 the hospital was closed after shortcomings were identified in its use as a mental healthcare facility and its future use for this function is presently under considerattion. The Medical Superintendent's house does remain in use in a mental health capacity.

2015, Bootham Park Hospital Heritage Appraisal (Unpublished document). SYO1751.

Sources/Archives (1)

  • --- Unpublished document: 2015. Bootham Park Hospital Heritage Appraisal.

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (0)

Record last edited

Sep 28 2020 12:01PM


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