Severalls Hospital
Severalls Hospital in Colchester, Essex, UK was a psychiatric hospital built in 1910 which first opened in May 1913. The 300-acre (1.2 km 2) site housed some 2000 patients and was based on the "Echelon plan" - a specific arrangement of wards, offices and services within easy reach of each other by a network of interconnecting corridors. This meant that staff were able to operate around the site without the need to go outside in bad weather. Unlike modern British hospitals, patients in Severalls were separated according to their gender. The architect of the asylum was Frank Whitmore. Villas were constructed around the main hospital building as accommodation blocks between 1910 and 1935. Most of the buildings are in the Queen Anne style, with few architectural embellishments, typical to the Edwardian Period. The most ornate buildings are the Administration Building, Larch House & Severalls House (originally the Medical Superintendent's residence).

Psychiatric experiments
Psychiatrists were free to experiment with new treatments on patients seemingly at will using practices now considered unsuitable such as electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) and the use of frontal lobotomy. These practices reached their climax during the 1950s. In her book Madness in Its Place: Narratives of Severalls Hospital, 1913-1997 , Diana Gittins notes that often women were admitted by their own family, sometimes as the result of bearing illegitimate children or as they had been subjected to rape. As they would not always (or were unable to) carry out daily tasks, they were considered to be insane and some were even subjected to ECT and lobotomy. A change in management during the 1960s (and likely a change in social acceptances) saw reforms introduced including the creation of art and music therapy programs and the widespread use of drugs and medication.

The hospital closed as a psychiatric hospital in the early 1990s following the closure of other psychiatric institutions. However, a small section of it did remain open until 20 March 1997 for the treatment of elderly patients suffering from the effects of serious stroke, etc., as a temporary building for nearby Colchester General Hospital (which was in the process of building an entire new building for these patients). Since 1997 the remaining structures have changed little. Architecturally, the site remains an excellent example of a specific asylum plan. However, the buildings have suffered much vandalism and fire damage which has since led to the demolition of the main hall. In 2005 the main hall was subject to an arson attack, and in 2007 the charred building was demolished for safety reasons. The five boilers were removed from the Central Boiler House in 2007. In 2008, the sale of the Hospital Site, including its extensive Grounds, collapsed, due to the slow-down in the Building Industry.

In December 2010, the nearby new A12 junction was officially opened. The "Stadium" junction and roundabout are located just to the north of Colchester United F.C.'s Stadium, on land formally known as Cuckoo Farm (used up until the late 1950s / early 1960s as the Hospital Farm). With the opening of this new junction, this is a significant step, as this will enable the new link road to be built between "Stadium" roundabout on Axial Way, connecting with the Northern Approach Road, just north of Mill Road. The proposed route of the link road will pass over the long-demolished Iris House, to the south of Orchard and Eden Villas, literally through Fernholme Villa, before crossing the old Sports Ground and joining the Northern Approach Road. Once built, this will "open-up" the re-development potential for the former Hospital Site. At present, it is not known the extent of retention of the existing Hospital buildings, apart from the Administration Building, which is Grade 2 Listed. It is hoped that the main "ranges" / Ward Blocks will be kept and converted, along with the Water Tower, which is considered to be an important and historic landmark.

Madness in Its Place: Narratives of Severalls Hospital, 1913-1997
The book Madness in Its Place: Narratives of Severalls Hospital, 1913-1997 (1998) by Diana Gittins has been the most comprehensive study of this institution to date. The project was initiated in the mid-1990s, by the North East Essex Mental Health Trust, which wanted a social history of the hospital to be written prior to its closure. Joan Busfield, Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex, was a member of the trust and put forward the name of a former PhD student of hers, Diana Gittins. The main reason was that Gittins’ background as a social and oral historian was deemed more suitable for this kind of work. Funding was secured by the Trust and the study commenced in May 1995 for a two-year period. Gittins designed and conducted the study with little interference from Busfield who assumed a supervisory role. The investigation drew upon both qualitative and quantitative material to address areas such as, gender divisions in staff and patients, in-hospital power relations, the patterns of admission and discharge, quality and variety of treatments on offer, and the daily lives and routines of patients and nurses on the wards. Furthermore, it provides an ‘insider’s view’ of the de-institutionalisation years and the passage from residential to community-centred care. The research data in their entirety (interviews, group discussions, photographs, architectural plans, etc) are currently deposited in ESDS Qualidata, part of the UK Data Archive, at the University of Essex.

Urban exploration
The site has been of increasing interest to urban explorers who have been known to enter the building without permission, take photographs, most interestingly the mortuary (which still houses the body refrigerators used to store deceased patients) and the imposing water tower (no longer in use). Some medical equipment still remains, such as spot lights, basic appliances and many of the sinks and toilets. Severalls has now been fenced off as it is deemed as dangerous. The Torchwood episode 'From Out Of the Rain' was not filmed at Severalls as other people has suggested. It may seem like Severall's wood, but in fact the whole of this episode was filmed around Cardiff.