Stoke Park Hospital

Stoke Park Hospital

The Dower House, formerly part of the hospital
Shown on the edge of Bristol
Location Bristol, England, United Kingdom
Coordinates 51°29′42″N 2°32′38″W / 51.495°N 2.544°W / 51.495; -2.544Coordinates: 51°29′42″N 2°32′38″W / 51.495°N 2.544°W / 51.495; -2.544
Care system Public NHS
Hospital type Specialist
Speciality Mental handicap
Founded 1909
Closed circa 1997
Lists Hospitals in England

Stoke Park Hospital, was a large mental handicap hospital, closed circa 1997, situated on the north-west edge of Bristol, England, just within South Gloucestershire.[1] Most patients were long-term residents, both adults and children of all ages. A school was on-site. Prior to 1950, it was known as the Stoke Park Colony, which was founded in 1909.

The Burden Neurological Institute, opened in 1939, was co-located at the hospital, and outlasted the hospital on the site to 2000.[2][3] The associated Burden Neurological Hospital was formed in 1969.[4] The Institute continues to operate at Frenchay Hospital as a charity.[5][6]


In 1902 the Rev. Harold Nelson Burden,[7] chaplain at Horfield Prison, and Katharine his wife founded the National Institutions for Persons Requiring Care and Control to care for mentally retarded children and adults. In 1908 they rented the Stoke Park estate, opening the Stoke Park Colony in April 1909. The colony was the first institution certified as a home for mentally retarded patients under the Mental Deficiency Act 1913, the Rev. Burden having been a member of the Royal Commission for inquiry into care of the feeble-minded that lead to the Act.[2][3][8][9] The colony was regarded as a leading institution of its type.[7]

In 1929 Prof Richard James Arthur Berry took over the medical directorship of the hospital.[10]

The National Health Service took over the colony in 1948, which along with the smaller Purdown, Leigh Court and Hanham Hall hospitals, was run by the Stoke Park Hospital Management Committee with 1930 beds for patients. Little development took place, with other types of hospital being prioritised, and gradually the hospital became overcrowded and understaffed. The Hospital Advisory Service visited in 1971 and wrote a damning report on the terrible conditions at Stoke Park. The report was leaked by hospital staff to the press and the BBC,[11] and raised in parliament, resulting in £1 million being spent on new wards and a 29% revenue increase for the hospital.[12][13][14]

In line with the Care in the Community policy of the 1980s, patients were moved from the hospital into smaller units under the community mental health service to overcome the problem of patient institutionalisation. There are conflicting sources over when exactly the hospital closed; patients are reported to have been removed by January 1985,[3] the hospital closed in 1988[1] or 1997,[15] and hospital records finished circa 1998.[1] The hospital site tender brochure states that the hospital closed in March 1997.[16] The site was redeveloped for housing from about 2000,[17] and the estate is now maintained as an open space by Bristol City Council, known as Stoke Park Estate.[18]

The Stoke Park Hospital Group School of Nursing was based at the hospital in the 1970s, with about 60 training places.[19]

The Dower House, a prominent Grade II* listed landmark in Bristol, was the most visible part of the hospital.[20]


Records of the Stoke Park Hospital Group are held at Bristol Archives (Ref. 40686/SPC) (online catalogue).


  1. 1 2 3 Historic England. "Stoke Park  (Grade II) (1000129)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  2. 1 2 "Burden Neurological Hospital, Bristol". Hospital Records Database. The National Archives. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  3. 1 2 3 Adrian Kerton (ed) (2005). "The History of Stoke Park". Glenside Museum. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  4. "The Institute of Clinical Neurosciences — the first ten years 1999-2009". University of Bristol. 2009. Archived from the original on 2010-07-15.
  5. Charity Commission. The Burden Neurological Institute Limited, registered charity no. 262125.
  6. "Author Jill Mansell opens new Frenchay hospital labs". Bristol Evening Post. 4 December 2008. Retrieved 5 January 2013. New research labs at Frenchay Hospital have been opened by a best-selling author, 16 years after she left their predecessor to pursue her literary career. Bristol novelist Jill Mansell started work at the Burden Neurological Institute straight from school and was still working there, at its former base at Stoke Park Hospital , when she first found success with her writing. Yesterday, she was the guest of honour at the official opening of the new laboratories, which are already carrying out ground-breaking research.
  7. 1 2 P K Carpenter (April 1996). "Rev Harold Nelson Burden and Katherine Mary Burden: pioneers of inebriate reformatories and mental deficiency institutions" (PDF). Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 89 (4): 205–209. PMC 1295737Freely accessible. PMID 8676319. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
  8. "Learning Disability — The Burdens". Glenside Museum. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  9. Charles Paget Lapage (1911). Feeblemindedness in Children of School-Age. Manchester University Press. pp. 11–13,314. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  11. Yvonne Wiley (2011). "Obituary: Dr William Alan Heaton-Ward, known as Alan". The Psychiatrist. The Royal College of Psychiatrists. 35 (397). doi:10.1192/pb.bp.111.036566. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  12. "Learning Disability — In the NHS". Glenside Museum. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  13. "Stoke Park Mental Hospital". Parliament. 14 April 1972. HC Deb 14 April 1972 vol 834 cc244-5W. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  14. "Stoke Park Hospital". Parliament. 9 May 1972. HC Deb 09 May 1972 vol 836 cc1116-7. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  15. "Learning Disability — The move to the community". Glenside Museum. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  16. "Planning Application P96/2973" (PDF). South Gloucestershire Council. 23 December 1996. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
  17. "Planning Application P99/1384". South Gloucestershire Council. 11 March 1999. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
  18. "Stoke Park Estate". Bristol City Council. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  19. "Stoke Park Hospital Group School of Nursing". Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  20. Historic England. "Dower House  (Grade II*) (1136240)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 September 2012.

External links

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