Knowle Hospital.

My obsession has started again!

Going back afew years, ok 15 years to 2001! Me & some friends discovered an old abandoned hospital near to where we lived which was the perfect setting for our ‘ghost hunting’ nights. The building was mainly boarded up, afew parts work had started & were already knocked down with a small area already converted in to shiney new houses ready for tenants to make their memories. We never got permission for our adventures but who does lol we spent every night exploring the wards getting as many photos as we could, I couldn’t stay away I felt ‘at home’ being there like something kept drawing me back.

We experienced several things which people have different opinions about but I know I saw with my own eyes someone waving at the same window as we turned up in a panic as if to get our attention with a very dark authority figure creeping up behind them as if to stop them. 

I saw an older lady with beautiful white wavy longer hair, she was in a night gown, very short in height & moved very slowly down the steps in the main block, she’s didn’t say anything just stared. 

We experienced a very high solid brick wall shake like waves after being hit with someone creating a loud bang & for us all to fall down, we were holding the top ledge trying to get a peek over but something obviously didn’t want us to see. 

We saw a man every night in the saw window siting sideways with a candle for light he looked like he was concentrating on something in his room. 

We camped out one night in the main block with a small tent, the room looked like an old security office, old curtains & chandeliers still hung in the room along with an old table & papers. We stayed awake with torches for most of the night until we fell asleep for afew hours waking early morning to find the whole room has been smashed, lights & glass everywhere with rubbish & mess surrounding us, not something three people could sleep through.

I came across old paperwork & medical records & took them, once home I created folders for these & during the day I would be found in my local library trying to find information & history on this place that fascinated me so much, why? What happened there for me to feel so many different feelings & see ‘ghosts’ why do I need to do this? I’m still unsure.

   
 
I collected lots of different things from Newpapers along with my own photos but with the building work continuing I knew I didn’t have long left of this amazing place looking this way & my circumstances quickly changed forcing me to stop everything as well as loosing everything, literally! 

Until now, my experiences were recently brought up in a general conversation with my hubby & I was quickly reeling off info with dates, names etc like it was locked away for later in my head & that was the trigger, “let’s go see it”?! 

So off we went taking a short tour in our car around the area with me pointing out what parts of the building were & where we saw each person, how it all looked, everything! Yet I only knew all this from old maps, that same feeling filled me yet again the feeling of needing to be here, what happened, who are these people still wondering around?

So we headed home to find out with the help of the Internet! 

To my surprise, there wasn’t as much information as I remember, old records had gone only basic stuff was around, why? Most patient records are now being held at The Winchester County Records Office which you can pay to view but only records of 100years & older so all those recent ones were gone.

So what is this place….it’s Knowle Hospital, renamed in 1948 formally Hampshire Lunatic Asylum. Opened in 1852 & closed in 1996. Designed by J Harris, Architect. 

The hospital was opened for metal patients & mainly run by one family (The Ford family)  for the whole time going back generations from which I have read they have done a great job with the care & dedication to their patients. 

Knowle took on many staff & admitted over 2000 patients along with 1000 in the asylum who were expected to work on the farm, kitchens or other jobs to help their community. 

The grounds had a chapel, housing for staff & leasiure facilities. 

Each patient & worker who died here also got buried here in the grounds up until 1971 & it wasn’t until 1886 that graves were decided to be marked before then pauper burials were recorded in a register but the site of burial was not marked so no link to the register. The earliest register date is February 1877 with number 897 so there are 896 unrecorded burials in the grounds. Some entries on the register for patients have two numbers for the same plot indicating more than one person was buried in the same plot but never on the same day, so some are grave sharing! The last burial took place in 1971. There have been some errors with numbers on the register but once you allow for these it shows that there are 5,578 people buried in Knowle Hospital Cemetery. 

So that explains why we saw ghosts I never imagined there would be so many though & why I feel so many mixed emotions while being there. 

Along with hospital itself, the cemetary & grounds there is also the ‘suicide bridge’ that from what I found years ago is the bridge escaped patients would jump from to their death on the railway lines below which is why barb wire now surrounds it & ‘ the tunnel’ a hole of some sort an escaped man lived in for quite some time in the woods until he got caught, however I’ve yet to find any real information on these accusations but it’s the sort of thing I feel happened when I’m around the area, I feel upset for people, pain & anger, maybe some were mistreated? 

The Internet portrays a very happy place with little information really & I may never find what I’m looking for or why I’m doing this but I know I will continue all the time I have this empty space, I’m fond of other abandoned hospitals but this one draws me in, there’s no other like Knowle & it’s hidden stories! 
This will always be an unfinished piece…. 

  

Natalie 🏚

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