Beechworth Asylum

Coordinates: 36°22′09″S 146°41′47″E / 36.36918°S 146.69642°E / -36.36918; 146.69642

Beechworth Lunatic Asylum, originally known as Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum is a decommissioned psychiatric hospital located in Beechworth, a town of Victoria, Australia. Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum was the four such Hospital to be built in Victoria, being one of the three largest. Mayday Hills Hospital closed in 1995 after 128 years of operation.

Ha-Ha Walls

One of the distinctive features of both Kew Asylum and Beechworth Asylum is the use of a variation on Ha-Ha walls around the patients courtyards. These ha-has consisted of a trench, one side of which was vertical and faced with stone or bricks, the other side sloped and turfed. From the inside, the walls presented a tall face to patients, preventing them from escaping, while from outside, the walls looked low so as not to suggest imprisonment.

Admission process

People could be admitted to the asylum as a lunatic patient by a number of means:

  • At the request of a friend, relative or acquaintance, with medical certificates written by two medical practitioners. This method was amended by The Mental Health Act 1959 which stated a person could be admitted upon the recommendation of a medical practitioner who had examined the person. As soon as possible after admission the superintendent of the hospital was required to examine the patient and either approve the recommended admission or discharge the patient.
  • Any (lunatic) person found wandering at large or not under proper care and control could be brought before two justices who could order the person's removal to an asylum. The police were usually responsible for bringing the person before the two justices.
  • Any prisoner of the Crown thought to be a lunatic could be removed from a gaol to an asylum by order of the Chief Secretary.
  • Voluntary Boarders were those who requested that they be admitted for a mutually agreed period of time (from 1915 onwards).

To be admitted, only two signatures were required. To be discharged, eight signatures were required, thus it was a lot harder to get out than to get in.

Current Uses

Currently Beechworth Lunatic Asylum is owned by Latrobe Uni. Nightly Ghost tours are held at the hospital allowing public access to the most historic buildings on site. This tour explores inside one of victoria's largest Lunatic Asylum's, where your host will share with you tales of staff, patients and early forms of treatments.

Building Activity

  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings updated a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via Annotator
  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings updated a digital reference and added a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via