Severalls Lunatic Asylum – Colchester Essex – 1980’s – 2015

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mockney reject

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Aug 3, 2014
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Yeah yeah I know it’s been done to death but consider this more of a story than a tourist report…

Before I start, if you’re interested in Severalls and really want to know what it was like back in the day please take the time out to watch this set of videos made by Patricia Amos, a former Severalls nurse who began working there in the early 1960’s and stayed there right up until March 1997 when it closed its doors for the very last time :-





Severalls has always been a part of my life and has cropped up in it in various ways.

Now let me tell you a story or two……

When I was a kid growing up around here we always got threatened with Severalls for bad behaviour. It was often referred to as the local nut house or the looney bin. If you where naughty at school you got threatened with it, the school bully would tell you that you where going to end up there after he beat you up, the kids you bullied would get teased with the same thing, your parents would threaten you with being sent there if you didn’t behave or eat your dinner.

We knew it was an awful place, a place where “the loonies” went and never came back. We were petrified of the place. The stories we got told made sure we soon behaved.

I’d never seen Severalls as a kid but knew where it was, “you’ll be sent to Colchester was the threat” or “you’ll end up in that place”

In reality any of my friends could have ended up there, in fact one did but more of that later. They sent you into places like that for silly things, dyslexia, being left handed or being born out of wedlock. If you read any of the various books or websites about Severalls then you know the awful way its “patients” were treated. Electric shock treatments, straight jackets and frontal lobotomy’s where considered the norm. What went on behind those closed doors was dark, very dark.

In 1996 my cousin got married, what’s this got to do with Severalls you may ask?

Well his wedding reception was to be held at Severalls hospital social club, this was where the new road now runs. I must admit even at 21 I was a little apprehensive about going there. On the way there my Dad joked that we where all loonies and would fit in anyways.

We approached Severalls from the Mill road side of town and drove up a long winding driveway to the social club which over looked the perfect lawns and cricket pitches. I couldn’t believe this stunning place was the place we had been threatened with as kids. I was taken aback, I sat there all day staring at this amazing building, intrigued, besotted and amazed by its grand architecture. This was the beginning of a love affair that has lasted years.

Over the next 20 years Severalls cropped up a lot in the local papers. Eventually there were reports it was closing, then reports it had closed, then a report about the big fire, even reports about ghost hunters and explorers. More recently stories have emerged about people getting huge fines for being in there and a workman falling off the roof.

I mentioned earlier I had a friend who had been in Severalls. He’s a few years older than me and had banged his head whilst at school. When I told him I was writing this he offered up his story.

“Basically I was at school, aged about 13 and walked into a door frame instead of going through it??? They sent me into Severalls for a brain scan as an outpatient. It was a rough experience, they scraped the skin off my scalp in several places to get a good electrical contact. It was for something called an electro-encephalogram and it bloody hurt! It all seems very Hammer House of Horror looking back now ..”

After speaking to me he spoke to his mum who found the original letter and he sent me a copy of it.


His mum had kept the three letters they received from Severalls, one for the initial appointment, one asking for him to go for a retest and one to say he was all clear. At least he can prove he wasn't mental at that age!

On the subject of mums, my mum informed me that back in the late 70’s our next door neighbour also had a spell in Severalls and that both her and my Dad had been to visit her at this crazy place. I was unsure on how to approach her and ask her about her time in Severalls, but fate kinda took the reigns for me and she contacted me after seeing a picture on facebook.

After asking her if she wanted to see any pictures of what it looks like now, she then told me her story too.

“I’m not really interested in looking at pictures as the other side of the hospital gave me the creeps every time I looked out of the window! I spent 2 weeks in the voluntary unit after suffering with post natal depression nearly 40 years ago. It was a scary place but the part I was in was ok. Just group therapy and that sort of thing, I also learnt to play snooker in there and am still quite good at it. I was supposed to stay in for a month but discharged myself after 2 weeks as missed my 2 children as they were put in foster care. It did me good being in there as took all the worries away and allowed me to get plenty of rest and sleep so I am grateful to the staff, but I’m glad I wasn't in the mental side of it.”

Now to me….

So it happened, back in 2013 I was sat chatting to a few mates after a little explore we had done at Nortel in Harlow, our first in fact, and the subject of Severalls came up. The guys I were sat with where about 15 years younger than me and knew nothing of its potted history so I started telling them the stories I knew. I had a look on the net and on 28DL at the various posts and those memories came flooding back. That was it I simply had to go and pay Severalls a visit.

Our first “explore” of Severalls was bit of a wet blanket, we lasted 1 minute and 48 seconds inside the building before the legend that is Michael caught us.


Now let me take a second to tell you about Michael. You may have heard lots about him, you may have not. The guy is a weapon, some kind of super human, maybe a cyborg. But he is the best in this game. In short and if your reading this Michael I’m sure you wont mind me saying it, He’s a fucker! He is an ace tracker, security guard and all round nice guy. I’ve lost count of the amount of times he’s caught us but there have also been times he’s missed us. But he has always been professional and always been a gent. Top bloke in my opinion as long as you’re not a wanker to him.

Anyways this first explore, we did the novice thing when he caught us and ran, how stupid! We managed to get away from him, well almost one of us got caught, yup we where a man down and we didn’t know what to do. Michael had him, we had no idea what the out come would be and what would happen. It turns out our mate ended up with a visit from the local armed response unit along with some big nasty dogs. After some time they let him go and ordered him to stay away for three months.

That got us planning for the next visit, we read up more on our rights as trespassers, purchased some decent foot wear, better clothing, rucksacks etc etc

We now looked the part and believed we were professionals lol

How fucking wrong were we. 38 seconds was all we lasted, I’ve had longer pisses.

He got us again, how on earth!!!! We had no idea how he did it this time.

He calmly marched us to the gate with little fuss, I don’t know what made us do it but we decided to make a run for it. We shot off into the main building and headed upstairs, after all the internet said he doesn’t and isn’t allowed upstairs so we would be safe, After what seemed like ages we realised that we would have to leave at some point and did. Some went one way and myself and two of our group went the other. Straight out of a window and into the hands of two of Colchester’s finest officers of the law who quickly rounded the three of us up and chucked us in the back of a meat wagon.

After a proper telling off they escorted us to the gate and kicked us out and went back in to find the rest of our party. They had already gone and where waiting outside for us in the car.

A few months went by and we decided to hit Severalls up again. We had spent a week preparing ourselves and had decided on the fact that Michael must have some sort of phone tracking device, That was out solution, we went in at half 5 in the morning under cover of fog and left our phones in the car.

Bang nearly four hours in there in which time we saw loads but still never found the morgue. We kept hearing Michael in the corridors and managed to avoid him. Part of our plan had been to stay out of the corridors as we where convinced he caught us the first time from the noise the broken tiles made. We were sat by the infamous red gates near the goodbye Severalls wall and we heard him coming, we were done with Severalls for the day so decided to catch Michael. As he got to the end of the corridor we stepped out on him for a change. That was funny, we ended up sat chatting to him for a while about the place and its history, he is an interesting guy. He also told us how he knew where we were, one poxy wet foot print, that was it!!! Told you he was good. As he marched us to the gate he told us about other explorers he had caught including the girl he tapped on the shoulder as she was eyeing up a shot in the main corridor and how she screamed. We thought we’d take the mickey and ask him where the morgue was, what a legend, he took us there and let us have a look. Good lad.

We left that day content with ourselves and happy. But inside me I knew my time with Severalls wasn’t over. I knew I’d be back.

And I was

About six months later I was going through a few shitty life changes and a few mates where going in so I tagged along with them. We visited a few bits I’d never seen before and had a great explore, putting a few myths to bed about the various cameras and PIR’s on site. It appears that none of them worked. After a good 5 hour explore we trotted off happy and with no capture.

About two weeks after that visit I was out on a date and it was all going wrong, the girl I was with was drinking far too much and I needed an out, as luck would have it a mate texted me and said him and a few friends where hitting Severalls and did I fancy paying tour guide. Of course I did, I binned the date, shot home, got changed and met up with these Severalls virgins. Once I’d got them over the fence, sorry if you’re reading this thinking about holes in the fence etc, but over the fence is the only way these days and it’s not the easiest fence to climb. Palisade fence is a bitch! We managed hours and hours in there this time. Then it all got a bit exciting. I’d argued with someone for months that Severalls had no cells. I was pretty sure and pretty confident that I’d seen pictures of them. But they were adamant I was wrong. Well at about 2:30am I wandered around the corner of a part I had never been in before because it was close to where Michael hung out and I had a huge Eureka moment!

Well fuck me there they where, a row of seclusion cells, ever had had one of those I told you so moments, well this was mine, I grabbed my camera and started snapping with the excitement and smile of kid with a new toy. I was sat inside one of the cells and snapping away when for some reason I turned my torch off, holy shit what the fuck, the door frame lit up. It appears that one of the cells has light absorbing tape around the door frame, no idea why but only on the one. It made for some great pics. But the best was yet to come. I wandered out into the corridor and became aware that some of the corridor was also covered in the same tape. God knows why, maybe as part of a fire escape, but again it made for more great pictures. I later realised I had seen the cells in Project Mayhems video





So that was then and this is now

I’ve been in and out of Severalls for the last ten weeks running and will continue going there ‘til it’s gone. I love the place, almost to the point I’m obsessed. I find it quiet relaxing after a shitty day at work.

From the morgue, to the tower, to the three way corridor, there isn’t a part of Severalls that isn’t exciting. I’ve taken many other explorers in there and given others advice via phone when they are there. I can honestly say if I won the lottery I would buy the place tomorrow and become “guardian” as I firmly believe it would be a crime for such a stunning place to be lost. Not only a loss for explorers but a loss for the community, local history and my friends who where always threatened with being sent there……

Just want to name check a few people whom without this would not have been possible :- thanks to charj.uk, AlexL, @Slayaaaa, RyanP, @oakley, @camoe, @InsideTheProhibited, BenD, BlairB, @urbanduck, KerryL, @jordanchinkbmx, @duckface, SJ

I’ve chucked a load of pictures together from my various trips, as always I hope you enjoy them J

The staircase of the admin building


The infamous tunnels


The red doors


The morgue


That water tower!


The gamma building


Various other shots



















Bones out

Veteran Member
Jun 19, 2012
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You know something, out of all the countless dozens of reports I have seen over the years of Sevs, and my many visits, day, night and afternoons, my busts from security even before I found a hole and the legend Michael once inside, this is one of the most entertaining reports yet. It's been a couple of years since I last said hello. The new access road has made her look too public now and taken away some of her dignity but you have made me think I need to say hello again. My best visit - 10 hours undisturbed, my worst - 15 minutes then Hi Michael.....


Regular Member
Dec 2, 2008
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Mate, what an absolute top notch report. One of the best write ups I've ever read on dp !! I only read it by chance as asylums ain't really my thing (military and underground are usually where I reside). Your passion for the place shines through and I really hope you get a few more years visiting it !! Great stuff !

mockney reject

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Aug 3, 2014
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Thanks for the comments guys :)

I'm always up for a revisit if anyone ever fancied it


Resident Slut
Jan 26, 2015
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buntingford hertfordshire
This actually has to be the best report to date :) And, photos I've not seen. You're making me want to go now, sadly I highly doubt I'd be able to tackle that fence :( lol
Thanks for sharing.

Hugh Jorgan

Regular Member
Feb 2, 2015
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Aberdeen, Scotland
A very good report and photographs. The text I found to be a bit long but nevertheless interesting especially your past and this hospital.


Regular Member
Sep 12, 2015
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Absolutely loved reading this mate, and some great pics too! Got this place lined up as stop number 2 on a road trip planned for spring time but starting to wonder if its worth the long drive now knowing about how good this Michael guy is! Ah well - he who dares...! ; )

mockney reject

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Aug 3, 2014
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Let me know when your thunking of going :)

Micheals gone now :(

new secca on the case

mockney reject

Regular Member
Aug 3, 2014
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Yeah from what he told my friend he is now working normal security in the town

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