Mendip Hospital, Wells


Hospital Name: Mendip Hospital
Previous Names: County Asylum for Pauper Lunatics, Somerset and Bath Asylum, Wells Mental Hospital, Somerset and Bath Mental Hospital
Location: Bath Road, Wells, BA5 3DJ
Principal Architect: GG Scott and WB Moffat
Layout: Corridor
Status: Converted
Opened: 1848
Closed: 1991


During the 1840s the Somerset Justices, along with many other counties, decide to enact the 1808 County Asylums Act and levy a rate to build an Asylum. ?This was also in response to the incoming 1845 Act that required every County to provide an Asylum. ?In 1844 the County made the decision to buy a plot of land on the outskirts of the City of Wells, over ?6,000 was paid for the land of Mr Perkins that was?abundant?in construction materials. ?Apparently building stone and lime scattered the plot. ?An Architects competition was held in 1844, and?George Gilbert Scott and William Moffat were the winners. ?The design represented the common Corridor Layout of the time and was very similar to the Shropshire and Montgomery Asylum in Shelton, the?building?was designed to?accommodate?350 patients. ?Interestingly, a few years before the hospital was to close, one of the other competition design was found and it represented a?wildly?different design common to the times; there were two?administrative?cores and the wards radiated outwards. ?Construction was completed in 1848 by?Mr. Kirk of Lincoln?and cost a total of ?41,000, including land costs.

The hospital accepted its first patient on the 1st of March, 1848 and the?first Resident Physician and Superintendent was Dr. Boyd, who served the hospital until 1867. ?The first patients were drawn from local Workhouses, Licensed homes and private homes. ?In 1852, there were only two padded cells within the hospital, but through caring management they were rarely used. ?Less than five years after opening, the hospital was already becoming crowded and future extension was foreseen. ?In 1850, a new cottage ward was constructed adjacent to the farm and was used by?convalescent males to tend to the Farm. ?In 1860, after an experiment with Male and Female mixed dining ? in those days, the sexes were separated ? a new dining and recreation Hall was constructed. ?In 1867, a 30 Bed Villa was constructed to the North of the Hospital to accommodate Female Patients. ?At the same time, 20 patients started quarrying stone in the Asylum Quarry for a new chapel.

In 1867 Dr Boyd retired and was succeeded by Dr Medlicott, who served the hospital for 14 years before being dismissed for unknown reasons. ?During his Tenure, he set about closing the onsite brewhouse and changing the daily ration of Beer/Cider to Tea/Coffee. ?He opened the new chapel and burial ground and also set about claiming more space for the Asylum by converting the loft spaces into dormitories. ?Dr Wade took up the post of Superintendent in 1881 and set about rapidly improving the buildings. ?In 1882 he commissioned and new 100 bed villa to the north of the Hospital to alleviate the overcrowding, costing ?8,000. ?In 1901, Dr Laing took the helm and but a much needed isolation hospital to the North of the main buildings, and opened a Private Asylum, which was later moved to the Hillside Villa. ?No further significant buildings were constructed at the Wells Asylum, but continual improvements to the building fabric were made. ?Electricity was introduced in the 1920?s, a cinema in the 1930?s and various health facilities were installed throughout the buildings.

The hospital eventually closed its doors in 1991 and has since been converted into 300 luxury homes and apartments.

External Photos

Internal Photos



10 responses to “Mendip”

  1. Curious to know why a relative came to be there in1939are there any medical records archived please?thank you

    • Hi Susan,

      I believe all the medical records are kept at the Heritage Centre in Taunton. I’m doing some research into the hospital and its patients myself… Would be happy to look these out for you if you wanted! Let me know 🙂

      • Hi i hope you don’t mind me contacting you. my great grandmother was a patient here i know she was buried at the cemetery here in 1934.
        I would love to find out any further info i can on her.

  2. hi
    looking for a Mary A hancok one of my great grandmothers was a patient here and im hoping to find out some more info?

  3. Good morning.

    I am doing some research into local beekeeping and understand that a former County Beekeeping Instructor, by the name of Arthur Rolt, may have taught beekeeping at the former Somerset and Bath Asylum some time between 1944 and 1969. The residents/patients apparently made him a set of model bee hives (which are now in my possession and hence the research) as a thank you and I was wondering if you might have any records/photos of him visiting to teach beekeeping or information about the beekeeping that may have been offered as part of the recreational activities encouraged at such facilities?

    Many thanks.


  4. Are there records, my grampy resided here for a while as he had a nervous break down due to the war and pit issues.It took its toll , he sufferered alopeicia also.
    He is long gone and so is hos wife , his bame was Harold Purnell from Timsbury.Coukd I have a photo copy fir family history please.
    Carrie Horler ne Dukes Grandaughter.Mother is Linda Purnell.

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