Cane Hill Asylum

Cane Hill Mental Hospital was opened in 1883 to house patients from the surrounding areas in the hope that the countryside location would aid their recovery. At its peak, Cane Hill housed some 2500 patients.

It's located just south of Coulsdon town center, running alongside the A23 Brighton Road.

It was closed in 1990, although a medium secure unit remains on the edge of the site. Cane Hill has suffered at the hands of arsonists since its closure, and there's now a significant security presence, and a huge fence running all the way around the site, but there's a public footpath with some decent views of the site.

As it was a nice day, and we'd been meaning to go and have a proper look at the place for some time, we wandered up there via the footpath this afternoon.

The footpath starts just opposite Coulsdon South station and goes uphill towards the new bypass, then continues up the hill on the other side of the new road.

You can follow the footpath round the side of the site, past the nurses block, the main entrance, and you can just see the chapel.

You can see my other pictures of Cane Hill.

Annoyingly, despite the clearly signposted public footpath 744 that we were sticking to (and had no intention of wandering from) we were harrassed by an extremely confrontational rent-a-cop style "security guard" with a van full of dogs, who insisted that we had to leave the site immediately as it was private. He demanded that we hurry on along the path, and that we wouldn't be allowed to come back along the same route as we had planned. He claimed that he was "the boss" and we had to do as he said, and threatened to call the police if we didn't do so. We pointed out that we were on a public footpath, and that we had a right to be there, which he didn't like. He said he'd meet us at the other end of the path to make sure we didn't try to wander off.

We got to the end, and he was indeed waiting for us, but we turned round and came back the way we had come, and he didn't complain, although when we reached the road, near the main entrance, another dog unit was waiting and asked (much more reasonably) if we'd been keeping to the footpath. We carried on back down the road, and the original guard asked the second one to follow us to make sure we left. I got a photo of this guard's vehicle, but aside from following us slowly down the road, he didn't harrass us in the same way as the first unit.

The company providing security for this site is Defence Security Services (UK) Ltd, and their contact number is 020 8640 3000.

If you plan on visiting this site, I'd recommend sticking to the public footpath (744), and standing your ground if questioned. You do have a right to be there, despite the many excuses they'll come up with if you object.