Bootham Park Hospital: front range, 1886 link block, late-C18 building, 1817 range and 1908 extension


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Bootham Park Hospital, Bootham, York


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Statutory Address:
Bootham Park Hospital, Bootham, York

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

York (Unitary Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


County Lunatic Asylum, now an NHS mental health hospital. 1773-77 by John Carr of York; with separate building c1788-96; 1817 range by Watson and Pritchett of York; 1886 extensively refurbished internally with addition of link block by Fisher and Hepper of York; 1908 extension for affluent female patients by Alfred Creer of York.

Reasons for Designation

Bootham Park Hospital of 1773-77 by John Carr, separate building of c1788-96, 1817 range by Watson and Pritchett, 1886 link block by Fisher and Hepper, and extension of 1908 by Alfred Creer are listed at Grade I for the following principal reasons: * Historic interest: Bootham Park Hospital was only the fifth public asylum to be founded in England and is a particularly fine example of local philanthropy with the money for its building raised through public subscription; * Plan form: as the only early public asylum to have subsequently continued in in its role as a mental health hospital in its original buildings there is a high level of survival of original plan forms notably axial corridors or galleries used for exercise in poor weather with individual cells to either side; * Architect: the front range of the asylum was designed by the acclaimed architect John Carr, with the other buildings designed by well-regarded York architects including Watson and Pritchett, specialists in asylum architecture; * Architectural interest: Bootham is designed in the manner of a grand country house, reflecting John Carr’s experience in designing large Palladian country houses such as Harewood (West Yorkshire); * Context: the historical context of the John Carr front range is enhanced by the survival of later phases of well-designed and largely intact buildings forming a T-plan to its rear which include a smaller, late-C18 building, a long, fire-proof range of 1817, an 1886 link block relating to a major refurbishment of the hospital, and an elaborate 1908 extension for affluent female patients built shortly after the opening of a new city pauper asylum on a different site; * Interior: in addition to the survival of original C18 fixtures and fittings particularly in the board room of the front range, these buildings are remarkably unified by a major late-C19 refurbishment undertaken to a notably high level of quality and craftsmanship redolent of a hotel rather than a hospital, and continued in the lavish fitting-out of the 1908 extension.


EIGHTEENTH CENTURY York Lunatic Asylum was only the fifth public mental health hospital founded in England. The intention to found an asylum in York was announced in the York Courant in August 1772 and a committee to oversee its building was swiftly established. Money was raised through public subscription; the subscription list records the names of county gentry, city notables, but also ordinary citizens. 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. The plan was described as ‘'simple and convenient consisting only of a corrodore, extending from end of the building, and has on each side of it, on the two upper floors, rooms very commodious and securely finished for the reception of lunatics'’. The ground floor had accommodation for patients and provision for the physician and apothecary and for a committee room. 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.

By 1788 the asylum was over-subscribed and a further twenty rooms were added. These may have formed part of the separate building to the rear shown on a 1796 engraving which also contained a kitchen and sitting room for female patients. In 1795 an ‘extensive wing’ was built, which was probably the ‘detached wing’ which burnt down in 1814 with the loss of the lives of several patients. 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.

NINETEENTH CENTURY 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 upper floors were carried on a fire-proof construction of arched brickwork spanning between iron beams. The original front building was then used only for male patients. Around 1820 an additional suite of rooms was fitted out to accommodate affluent patients, though they were not popular and were under-utilised. In 1828 a new refractory ward was built for fourteen violent or troublesome patients to the north-west of the site.

The first edition 1:1056 Ordnance Survey map published in 1852 provides the earliest known surviving ground plan of the asylum. In addition to the main asylum building and the 1817 female range to the north-east, it shows two further blocks had been added to the north-west. One was a service block containing a wash house, bakery, brewery and stores. The other was an extension or a rebuilding of the earlier refractory ward to provide wards for male and female patients. The 1845 Lunatics Act had made the provision of accommodation for pauper patients compulsory and this building was presumably for pauper patients. The two wards were linked to the main buildings by two long corridors. Two small, single-storey extensions had also been added to the inner angles of the rear elevation of the front building.

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, a Medical Superintendent’s house in 1862-63 on the south-east side of the 1817 range, and a separate chapel in 1865 designed by Rawlins Gould. In 1871-72 the pre-1852 service block was either demolished or extensively rebuilt to provide a grand recreation and dining hall spanning the area between the two long corridors, and new kitchen, larder, laundry, wash house and drying room, and boiler house. Gas cookers were installed to make domestic life easier, baths were replaced with enamel baths, the hot water supply was improved and stone flags were replaced by boards in some areas.

In 1884 Dr Hitchcock became Medical Superintendent. He was notable for his medical innovations, reducing the use of sedatives as treatment, and was pioneering in his therapy of acute mania cases. This was cemented in 1909 when two American doctors commented that the hospital ‘'was the most progressive institution they had visited in Europe'’.

In 1886 the link block between the main building and late-C18 building to the rear was entirely rebuilt as a two-storey building to designs by York architects Fisher and Hepper. The main staircase in the John Carr building was removed and replaced by a staircase in the new link block. Fisher and Hepper’s design built in a French chateau style was more decorative than the earlier buildings. The detailing, particularly that of the windows, suggests that Fisher and Hepper are likely to have been the architects of other parts of the complex built at a similar time. Between 1852 and 1892, when the first edition 1:2500 Ordnance Survey map was published, a long, two-storey cross wing under a single roof was built running north-east, south-west and located between the 1871-72 recreational hall and the 1861-62 pauper wards. The northern and southern ends of the south-east elevation of the wing have segmental-arched windows very similar to those used in the 1886 link block. Also sharing a similar appearance are the single-storey American bowling alley built before 1892 along the outer side of the southern long corridor (later a dining room), and a single-storey room projecting from the northern end of the cross wing. Both have similar decorative bargeboards. At this time the interior of the asylum was extensively refurbished including Minton tile corridor floors, fireplaces, fine doorcases and doors. The entrance to the 1817 range was remodelled during the refurbishment.

The recessed loggias in the back of the 1817 range were enclosed in the late C19.

TWENTIETH AND EARLY TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY 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 1906 a new city pauper asylum was opened at Naburn and all paupers at Bootham Park Hospital were then moved to the new hospital. In 1908 an extension for affluent female patients was built to designs by York architect and City Surveyor, Alfred Creer, linking the 1817 range and the Medical Superintendent’s house. Following the outbreak of the First World War many structural improvements were abandoned, though a few alterations appear to have happened during the 1920s. The northern end of the later-C19 cross wing has a single-storey extension dated 1928 on a rainwater hopper, originally with a veranda. A plan dated 1931 also shows that verandas had been built against the outer elevations of the two pauper wards. The third edition 1:2500 Ordnance Survey map published in 1931 shows that the small square, later-C19 building next to the gateway on the west side of the complex had been replaced by a rectangular building of double the size, which was used as a mortuary. In 1939 the central cupola on the front range was removed, leaving the square base, which was removed in 1951.

In 1948 Bootham Park Hospital was included in the newly created National Health Service (NHS). In 1953 the verandas of the pauper wards were replaced by single-storey extensions to provide additional beds. In 1955-8 a two-storey extension was built to the southern end of the later-C19 cross wing to provide outpatient facilities as part of the evolution of mental health practice towards care in the community. Other additions in the mid-C20 included a four-bay, single-storey extension to the northern end of the later-C19 cross wing and replacement of the 1928 veranda with a single-storey extension. A staircase hall was built in the inner angle between the former bowling alley and the southern end of the cross wing with an adjacent lift with vertically-projecting lift housing. A small, two-room extension was also built on the outer side of the northern long corridor. On the western side of the site a group of various service buildings were built, including large garages, a workshop, and a boiler house. In the 1960s a single-storey, flat-roofed ward was built between the two pauper wards to create a quadrangle with a central yard. A single-storey, flat-roofed ward was also built projecting from the south-east elevation of the later-C18 building behind the front range. The 1871-2 wash house and drying room was refurbished in the 1960s as ward space and the kitchen adjacent to the recreation room was converted into the Needham Treatment Suite and a small, single-storey annexe built on its south-east side to provide a sluice room/store/WC. In the late C20 the brick chimney stacks were removed from the front range. A projecting glazed entrance lobby was added in the late C20 or early C21 against the north-west end of the 1817 range. A new, single-storey ward building was also built attached to the rear, north-east elevation of the 1908 extension, and a new record store was built on the north-eastern side of the southern long corridor. Two new electricity sub-stations were built on the western side of the site adjacent to the group of service buildings. In 2015 the hospital was closed after shortcomings were identified in its use as a mental healthcare facility. It then partially re-opened while discussions about its future use for this function are on-going.


County Lunatic Asylum, now an NHS mental health hospital. 1773-77 by John Carr of York; with separate building c1788-96; 1817 range by Watson and Pritchett of York; 1886 extensively refurbished internally with addition of link block by Fisher and Hepper of York; 1908 extension for affluent female patients by Alfred Creer of York.

MATERIALS: orange brick, sandstone dressings, slate roofs

PLAN: a multiple phase complex. The original three-storey, rectangular front range has wide spine corridors with rooms opening off both sides. It originally had a central main staircase, removed to form an atrium and replaced by a staircase block in 1886 built against the centre of rear elevation. This block links the front range to a separate late-C18 two-storey building, which in turn is linked to a long 1817 two-storey range built parallel to the front range, the buildings together forming an H. The 1817 range also has wide spine corridors with rooms opening off both sides. At the south-east end of the 1817 long range is a 1908 two-storey extension. EXTERIOR

FRONT RANGE (1773-77): the John Carr building is built of orange brick in Flemish bond. The three-storey, eleven-bay front elevation is symmetrical with a slightly-projecting, single bay at each end. The three central bays have a slightly projecting ground floor with four giant engaged Tuscan columns rising over the upper storeys to a plain frieze, Doric cornice and triangular pediment. There is a chamfered stone plinth, a moulded stone band between ground and first floors, a narrow stone sill band at ground-floor level and a narrow stone impost band at first-floor level. The first-storey windows are round-headed set in shallow, arched recesses; the ground-floor windows and smaller second-floor windows are flat-headed with gauged brick lintels. The first-floor windows have five shaped five-over six pane sashes, the ground-floor windows have six-over-six pane sashes, the second-floor windows have eight-over-eight pane sashes. The round-headed central doorway is raised on three steps and has a Gibbs-style stone surround of alternatively-blocked Tuscan columns, Doric cornice and triangular pediment. The doorway has double doors each of three fielded panels. The side elevations are each of four bays with a first-floor Venetian window in the second bay with a tripartite window below on the ground floor and a tripartitie lunette window above on the second floor. The other windows are similar to those in the front elevation. In the third bay of the south-east end elevation is a flat-headed doorway raised on three steps with a moulded stone surround and entablature. In the second bay of the north-west elevation is a door with a six-pane over-light and gauged brick lintel and a small window to its left. The rear elevation has projecting end bays with a central three-bay triangular pediment and similar windows to those in the front elevation. The central bays are largely obscured by the 1886 link block; there is a two-storey, single-bay extension built in the inner left angle; there is a single-storey, two-bay extension built in the inner right angle with a canted bay window to the first bay.

LINK BLOCK (1886): this is a two-storey, six-bay block built of darker orange brick in Flemish bond with a deep, dentil and moulded brick cornice. The outer, south-east elevation has square, full-height bay windows to the third and fifth bays with tripartite windows and pyramidal bell-canted roofs with fish-scale slates and decorative ironwork rooftop railings. The intermediate windows mostly have segmental-arched heads with moulded brick hoods and giant, terracotta, cyma keystones topped with ball finials. The main roof has decorative terracotta ridge tiles. The inner, north-west elevation has a full-height canted bay window to the first bay with a square bay projecting from its left-hand side over the single-storey southern long corridor; the two right-hand bays also have an attic storey. Most windows have similar segmental-arched heads with moulded hoods and giant, cyma keystones with several tripartite windows at the right-hand end.

LATE C18 BUILDING: this is a two-storey, five bay building with a full-height, canted bay to the centre of both the south-east and north-west elevations. It is built of orange brick in Flemish bond with a stone band between ground and first floors, a narrow stone sill band at first-floor level and a moulded stone cornice. It has a slate hipped roof with tall brick stacks. The windows have gauged brick lintels. The window frames in the south-east elevation have four-over-three pane sashes with full-width upper panes; those in the north-west elevation have six-over-six pane sashes and two-over-two pane sashes to the ground floor of the canted bay. The ground floor of the two right-hand bays in the south-east elevation are obscured by a flat-roofed 1960s ward block which projects out in a south-easterly direction. The two left-hand bays of the north-west elevation have a wide inserted opening beneath a timber lintel with a door flanked by boarding and glazing. The building is linked to the long 1817 range by a segmental-arched first-floor brick bridge with canted bay windows.

LONG 1817 RANGE: this two-storey range is built of orange brick in Flemish bond with a timber eaves cornice with paired modillions, a hipped slate roof and tall, brick stacks. The outer, north-east elevation has a five-bay centre with a central, full-height canted bay window. On both sides of the five central bays the wall face steps back slightly for three bays, marking the former position of the original recessed loggias. At the left-hand end there is a further single bay before the range abuts the projecting 1908 extension. At the right-hand end there are three further bays. The majority of the windows have segmental-arched heads, stone sills and six-over-six pane sashes. There are also a number of tripartite and double windows with stone mullions, sills and lintels which relate to late-C19 alterations. The windows in the right-hand end bay are blocked up. There is an adjacent doorway. There is a modern double-door at the left-hand end. The inner, south-west elevation has a central triangular pediment, now largely obscured by the first-floor brick bridge. It has similar segmental-arched windows with six-over-six pane sashes on both floors and a larger stair window to the immediate left of the brick bridge. The north-west end elevation is of three bays with the ground floor largely obscured by a modern, projecting, glazed entrance lobby and extension to the northern long corridor. It has central tripartite windows with segmental-arched heads flanked by windows to each side. The ground-floor tripartite window is now converted to a doorway opening into the entrance lobby. The ground-floor and first-floor windows in the first bay are blind.

EXTENSION OF 1908: this two-storey extension is built as a south-facing L-shaped wing at the south-east end of the 1817 range. It incorporates part of the two end bays of that range with a new recessed wing projecting a single bay in a south-easterly direction, and an angled single-storey porch attached to a one-bay, two-storey extension to the Medical Superintendent's house. On the roof is a tall, square, timber and glazed lantern with a lead cupola. The two-bay, south-east elevation has blind windows in the outer bay and a full-height, curved bay to the second bay. The south-west return elevation of the wing has a similar full-height, curved bay to the centre, flanked by two windows filling the width of the ground floor. There is a further window to the gable wall and an angled, single-storey porch. The porch door and the ground-floor windows are separated by brick piers with stylised stone capitals supporting a stone entablature band, which wraps round. The windows are one-over-one pane sashes and timber casements. The first floor of the gable wall has a central one-over-one pane sash window. The porch has a door of six fielded panels with a rectangular over-light. A short stretch of wall to the right with a small segmental-arched window attaches the porch to the additional two bays of the adjacent Medical Superintendent’s house. The rear elevation is largely obscured by a modern, single-storey ward; there is a 1908-dated rainwater hopper.

INTERIOR There is a high level of survival of high-quality fixtures and fittings in many of the buildings, much dating from the late-C19 refurbishment, but also fixtures and fittings original to the date of the individual buildings. FRONT RANGE: the interior retains high-quality fixtures and fittings, the majority dating from a late-C19 refurbishment. The ground-floor board room remains as designed by John Carr with an enriched cornice and fluted timber mantelpiece to the fireplace. The walls are lined with timber boards bearing the names of benefactors. Elsewhere there is much late-C19 period detailing including Minton tile corridor floors, fine hooded door-cases and doors of six fielded-panels opening off the right-hand end of the spine corridor; the left-hand end of the spine corridor, which is separated off by a glazed timber screen, has moulded door-cases and doors of four fielded-panels. The central atrium may retain original Tuscan columns and engaged pilasters on the inner, south side with late-C19 fluted Doric columns to the rear, north side where the atrium opens into the link block. The atrium has Minton floor tiles, enriched first and second-floor friezes and timber screens at each level with stained glass; those on the ground floor are painted with a variety of birds. The upper floors have moulded door architraves and four-panelled doors opening off the spine corridors.

LINK BLOCK: the interior retains high-quality, late-C19 fixtures and fittings including Minton tile corridor floors and enriched cornices and ceiling roses. The ground-floor spine corridor has a coffered ceiling and fine, broken-pedimented door-cases with fielded-panel and half-glazed doors. On the opposite side of the corridor are fielded-panel and half-glazed doors set in glazed timber screens. Off the north-west side of the corridor is a stair hall containing the main staircase. It has heavy, moulded timber newel posts, moulded and ramped timber handrail and decorative, iron balusters (the brass rail on top of the handrail is a modern addition). The stair hall windows have stained glass.

LATE-C18 BUILDING: the interior retains high-quality, late-C19 fixtures and fittings including Minton tile corridor floors, a marble mantelpiece in the north-western canted-bay room, cornicing, fine hooded door-cases on the ground floor, moulded door architraves elsewhere, and fielded-panel doors. There is a wall clock on the ground-floor corridor wall.

LONG 1817 Range: the interior retains many high-quality fixtures and fittings from the late C19 and also some original early-C19 fixtures and fittings. The central ground-floor entrance and stair hall has been refurbished in the late C19. The half-glazed entrance doorway is set in a wide timber and glazed screen; the glazing is of decorative stained glass with fielded panelling beneath and external flanking pilasters with console brackets. The hall is richly decorated with Minton tiles, panelled dado, moulded door architraves and doors of six fielded-panels, enriched cornice, ceiling beams with decorative console brackets and pendants. The staircase has carved timber newel posts with finials, ramped, moulded handrails with turned timber balusters and dado panelling on the landing. The landing is lit by a large stair window with stained glass, with an enriched cornice, panelled ceiling and rose over the staircase. A modern safety screen of Perspex panels fixed to wooden posts has been erected adjacent to the balustrade. The range includes other fixtures and fittings throughout, such as doors of six fielded-panels with entablature door-cases and doors of four fielded-panels with early-C19 reeded architraves. Cupboards in bedrooms have four-panelled doors with moulded architraves. The first-floor corridor ceiling is coffered or panelled, with ceiling lanterns and an enriched, coved ceiling light.

EXTENSION OF 1908: the interior retains many high-quality fixtures and fittings from the early C20, notably in the public spaces. The porch entrance has fielded panelling to picture rail height with moulded cornicing above. The ground-floor sitting room has a decorative plasterwork ceiling and enriched frieze and moulded cornice with panelled and carved pilasters to the walls and bow window. The segmental-headed double doors have field panelling and half glazing with overlights. The open-well staircase is enclosed by decorative glazed timber screens and segmental-headed double doors with overlights, all with leaded and stained glass. The staircase is lit from a lantern with an enriched, deeply coved ceiling. The timber staircase has a solid panelled balustrade with square newel post with finials. A glazed timber safety screen has been attached to the handrail and modern glazed screens erected in front of the original glazed timber screens. The corridors have similarly detailed decorative glazed timber screens with segmental-arched double doors and leaded and stained glass. Other fixtures and fittings of interest include the doors and architraves. Excluded from the listing are: the single-storey, flat-roofed 1960s ward block attached to the south-east elevation of the late-C18 building and projecting out in a south-easterly direction, the modern, projecting, glazed entrance lobby obscuring the ground floor of the north-west end elevation of the 1817 range, and the modern, single-storey, flat-roofed ward obscuring the rear elevation of the 1908 extension.

Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 ('the Act') it is declared that the former WRVS shop constructed in the 1980s in the corridor of the late-C18 building, the modern brass safety rail attached to the handrail of the staircase in the 1886 link block, the modern Perspex safety screen adjacent to the balustrade of the staircase in the 1817 range, the glazed timber safety screen attached to the handrail of the staircase in the 1908 extension and the modern glazed screens erected in front of the original glazed timber screens enclosing the stairwell are not of special architectural or historic interest.


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Books and journals
RCHME, , An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of York in the City of York, Volume IV, Outside the City Walls, East of the Ouse, (1975), 47-49
Richardson, Harriet (editor), English Hospitals 1660-1948: A Survey of their Architecture and Design, (1998), 154-181
Wragg, Brian, Worsley, Giles (editor), The Life and Works of John Carr of York, (2000), 231-232
Anne Digby, From York Lunatic Asylum to Bootham Park Hospital. Borthwick Papers No.69, 1986.
Katherine Webb, Bootham Park Hospital. A Guide for Visitors, 2014 (leaflet).
Purcell, Bootham Park Hospital. Historic Buildings Appraisal, Issue 2 September 2015.
RCHME research notes, Bootham Park Hospital, York, No.60268.


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

The listed buildings are shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’), structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building (save those coloured blue on the map) are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act.

End of official listing

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Date: 22 Sep 2003
Reference: IOE01/10973/21
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Peter Briggs. Source Historic England Archive
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