Warley Hospital was the first County Asylum to be built in Essex, following the passing of the County Asylums Act. The first patients were first admitted in 1853; 130 out of a capacity of 300 although by the turn of the century the site had expanded and accommodated just short of 2,000 patients. Psyciatric Hospitals at West Ham (Goodmayes) and Colchester (Severalls) helped with over crowding however little expansion occurred after 1900.
During the Second World War the hospital was bombed causing damage to some of the buildings. In addition to this, many staff had been called to fight in the war. In 1948 the NHS was founded and the hospital joined it 5 years later, renaming it Warley Hospital. Changes to mental health saw services at the hospital decline in the 1980’s and eventually shut in 2002, lying mostly derelict until it was recently re-developed into luxury accommodation.
Like many asylums, Warley had it’s own chapel and graveyard on site. Whilst photographing the site we found the grave of Sarah Jones, a 58 year-old staff member who worked at the hospital for 25 years as a laundress.