A mid C19, purpose-built lunatic asylum set in its own contemporary ornamental grounds.
CHRONOLOGY OF HISTORIC DEVELOPMENT
The Manchester Royal Hospital for the Insane, now the Cheadle Royal Hospital, was built 1847-9 and opened in 1849, to replace the former hospital site in the centre of Manchester built in the 1760s. In the circular letter notifying the medical profession of its opening, it is noted that 'the buildings have been erected and the grounds laid out with special reference to the most approved methods of treatment, at an expense of about £25,000'. The architect was Richard Lane, architect and surveyor to the Asylum Committee, and winner of the competition for the design of the new hospital. It was intended for the middle and upper classes, and, unlike pauper asylums, accepted voluntary patients, being the first asylum to do so. The building was extended several times later in the C19.
Cheadle Hospital is described in the 1850s (Conolly 1856) as being one of several new asylums where: 'One of the chief of the indirect remedial means of treating mental disease is a cheerful, well-arranged building, in a well-selected situation, with spacious grounds for husbandry, and gardening, and exercise'. As built the hospital had thirty acres of meadow and eleven of arable land, two-and-a-half acres of kitchen garden, and five acres of flower gardens with avenues, shrubberies and gravelled walks. As part of their cure patients were involved with planting and improvements to the grounds, as well as using them for exercise and outdoor amusements including bowls and cricket. A description of the site in the 1930s reads: 'The grounds of the Hospital extend to 280 acres and protect it entirely from being closely surrounded by new building schemes. They are well-wooded, with numerous shrubberies, and flower and rock gardens. A very large part of the estate is laid out specially for recreation and amusement, for cricket, tennis, and bowls. There are also lawns for croquet and a putting green. Cricket matches, on a ground large enough for any county match, take place twice weekly during the summer, and two hard shale courts enable tennis to be played throughout the year. Golf may be had within a short distance of the Hospital. There are many pleasant walks in the grounds themselves, and in the quiet surrounding country.' (Brockbank 1934).
The grounds, in the 1930s run by a staff of twenty, have been reduced by peripheral housing development during the C20, and further hospital buildings have been constructed. The site remains (1998) in use as a hospital.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Cheadle Royal Hospital stands to the south of Cheadle, on the west side of the Wilmslow Road. The 9ha site, occupying level ground, is bounded to the south and west by C20 housing development, to the east by the Wilmslow Road, and to the north by open ground, formerly part of the hospital grounds. The setting is partly suburban and partly agricultural, with the remains of former hospital farmland to the north and, to the east, the grounds of Bruntwood Park.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
From an early C20 lodge on the Wilmslow Road, an avenue leads 250m west to the forecourt below the east front of the hospital building. Set back from the north side of the drive, beyond the putting green, and surrounded by lawns broken by specimen trees are the Gables Hostel and several detached villa houses, built in 1866, intended for the use of patients who it was considered would benefit from the change from the ordinary routine of life in the main asylum wards.
A second early C20 lodge stands 200m further north, providing a back drive off the Wilmslow Road. This passes to the north of Russell House, built as a hostel for resident long-term patients, and the chapel, opened in 1904. It then turns south to lead to the forecourt on the east front of the main hospital, passing the Astell Day Hospital, opened in 1959, which stands immediately to the north of the main building. The latter stands on the site of the former northern section of the formal gardens.
The back drive also provides access to North House, constructed to accommodate the expansion of the hospital in the first years of the C20 and opened in 1903. It stands in its own gardens, 250m north of the main hospital.
A further drive leads 350m east along an avenue from the lane on the western boundary of the grounds, to the west front of the hospital buildings. At the western end of this west drive, standing 350m north-west of the main hospital building, is St Ann's Villa, built as a private hospital for the treatment and education of epileptic children, but purchased by the Hospital in 1887. On the northern side of the drive, 150m west of the main hospital complex, stands the nurses? home, under consideration before the First World War, but not built until 1937. Another tree-lined drive leads from south to north across the west side of the main hospital buildings.
Cheadle Royal Hospital (Richard Lane 1848-9, listed grade II) stands towards the centre of the site. Built of red brick with stone dressings and of three storeys, it is in Gothic Revival style, with extensions of 1861, 1877 and 1882. The central block, surrounding a courtyard, is flanked by two symmetrically placed further courtyards to north and south which accommodated male and female patients separately.
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS
The main block is surrounded by walled gardens, the walls carrying decorative iron railings. Within the walls, to either side of the east avenue, is a sunken flower garden. Further south, occupying the south-east corner of the walled area, is a bowling green. This is divided from the lawn to the south of the hospital by a brick wall with gateway through, and there is also a pair of iron gates in the south wall. A walk leads along the southern edge of the lawn in the centre of which stands a wooden shelter. A cast-iron drinking fountain forms a feature on the northern walk which leads alongside the south facade of the building. The basic layout closely follows that shown in a ground plan of the hospital, and elevation of the east front, of 1848.
East of the walled gardens, and to the south of the east drive, lies the cricket ground, screened from the road by the boundary belt of trees. A pavilion stands on the southern side of the pitch.
South of the southern walled gardens is an open area, beyond which, to the south-west, stands a row of late C20 housing, occupying the site of the former kitchen garden. The ground plan of 1848 (Brockbank 1934) shows that the original intention was to site the kitchen garden to the north of the ornamental gardens, although by the 1870s it lay south of the southern walled gardens (OS 25" map published 1872), laid out in cruciform pattern with orchard trees flanking the paths.
The model dairy farm, formerly standing to the east of the kitchen garden, provided the Hospital's supply of milk.
Dr J Conolly, The Treatment of the Insane without Mechanical Restraint (1856, new edn 1973)
E M Brockbank, A Short History of Cheadle Royal from its Foundation in 1766 (1934)
N Roberts, Cheadle Royal Hospital. A Bicentenary History (1967)
OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1872
2nd edition published 1898
2nd edition revised 1910
Description written: October 1998
Register Inspector: SR
Edited: October 1999