St. Lawrences Hospital, Bodmin, Cornwall

After only seeing a handful of successful explores on 28dayslater of St. Lawrences Hospital we decided to take the long trip down to Bodmin in Cornwall.

There are two parts to the hospital. An abandoned part and a live part. We pulled up in to the car park of the live site, kitted up & walked through to the disused area.

Being a weekend there was plenty of activity in the grounds. It had become somewhere for the locals to bring their dogs for a walk – generally being nosey at our interest in the empty building.

For nearly an hour we patrolled the perimeter, got on the roof, climbed in to courtyards and dragged ourselves on our bellies through service tunnels. No good. No way in. Then, by sheer luck, we happened across a window which was slightly ajar. Just enough to get our fingers in and open the sucker!

St. Lawrences Hospital was one of sixteen county asylums set up between 1811 and 1842. A lot of patients were classified as ‘paupers’, whose admissions were publicly funded. Rumours are rife about what kind of ‘tests’ and ‘treatments’ were given here during the Victorian era, such as electric shock therapy for epileptics. It’s also rumoured that the asylum had isolation cells but we found no evidence to support it.

Just as we were photographing the last few rooms we noticed a Security Van pull up on the opposite side of the site. Coincidence? Or had we tripped a silent alarm? We weren’t going to hang around and find out! Blindly, but quickly, we power-walked down the corridors, looking for an escape route. Our open window was too far away and too close to security. Fumbling at every window and door we came across a Yale Locked door. Turned the latch. Bright light! We’re outside! As our luck would have it, we exited right next to the car park we’d pulled up in earlier! Bingo!

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Important, noteworthy & interesting comments are highlighted below

  1. MrsP says:

    Great photos! I was a patient in the now-gone Harrison Clinic in 2000 for a bit, following a nervous breakdown and battling horrific PMDD. The staff were lovely and the place was clean.

    I got on very well with a great male nurse there named Steve. He had long curly hair and a guitar and he would encourage me to sing with him and he gave me confidence in my singing. On top of that, I met probably the sanest people I had met in my whole life. I came out of there realising that it wasn’t us who were mad – it was the world around us.

    In the short 4-wk period I was there I gathered so many stories on the colourful characters there and despite being in a terrible place in life, I came out with some faith in humanity restored.

    Took advantage of wandering the old Carew, Kendall and Rashleigh buildings when I was allowed out into the grounds, even taking my little brother and sister for a wander. I wish I had a camera back then, cos these places were amazing to see.

  2. Liam says:

    Hello I’m new into exploring abandoned derelict buildings, is this one still accessible does anyone know and is it worth going to?

    1. Karen says:

      It is in redevelopment, all the good bits are gone

      1. MrsP says:

        Kendall ward was paradise for EST practitioners there. A former inmate who I know had suffered in their clutches burnt it down.

        St Lawrences’s care approach was originally modelled on an asylum somewhere in Yorkshire called “The Retreat”. The Retreat changed how mental patients were treated in this country. At the Retreat, patients were rarely shackled, rarely straightjacketed and they did not apply the same brutality that other asylums were known for at that time. Inmates enjoyed some respect and kindness. So it wasn’t as brutal as the others. But there were still mysterious pregnancies, abuse and cruelty to patients etc. at the hands of staff. It still occurred occasionally.

  3. Debbie Stubbs says:

    I trained and worked here from the 80s, 90s, 00s when we moved to the new community hospital. The perspective I can give is that St. Lawrences provided a place of safety for many who had mental health problems. It was a busy and brilliant place to work. I NEVER observed any mal treatment nor would I have condoned it. The incidents that did occur were assaults by more disturbed patients upon staff. What is so sad is that there is no recognition of the work done and achieved. The lives saved, the compassion given and the additional unpaid hours worked by dedicated staff because of their commitment to the individuals within their care.

    The empty, derelict buildings give no representation of the life and energy they used to hold or in the Victorian grandeur especially in the old private wings of Allen and Newlyn. Any building once empty loses its vibrancy and soul as it is the people who create that vibe not the bricks and mortar.

    1. Dj says:

      A lot of people say differently. Especially the patients of that place. Their families etc.

  4. Pamela Roberts says:

    My Father died in St. Lawrences Hospital in 1959, he was taken there in 1953 after suffering problems with shrapnel left in his system after loosing a leg in WW Two.
    My Mother was unable to look after him and two small children when he became difficult.
    I knew when I was old enough to understand where he died but I was only 3 at the time.
    The photos are the first I’ve seen of where my father died and have left me with a deep sense of sadness and regret.

  5. Anon says:

    I used to live in Bodmin, and in the nineties spent a lot of time with friends inside the abandoned parts of the building, some of it was more dilapidated than other parts and some was like it had just been left yesterday. There were bed frames and curtains still in the wards. It was pretty creepy to be honest. Think some kids did a sleepover there. Part of it caught fire at some point in the early 2000s

  6. les says:

    I live in cornwall and moved here in 2009, when I first moved here all of this hospital was still standing but 2-3 months after moving here they started to pull most of it down so didn’t get time to look round there is certainly loads of places down here that I need to look for but as for me you’ll always get the odd one or two that thinks I’m in the wrong for doing what I do but in my eyes it’s all about documenting our British history and not letting these once grand, bustling places go unseen and not forgotten.

  7. Sarah James says:

    My Great Great Uncle died at Military Hospital Bodmin, he contracted “fever” when he was serving in Salonika in WW1.

    1. Pamela Roberts says:

      My Father died in St. Lawrences Hospital in 1959, he was taken there in 1953 after suffering problems with shrapnel left in his system after loosing a leg in WW2.
      My Mother was unable to look after him and two small children when he became difficult.
      I knew when I was old enough to understand where he died but I was only 3 at the time.
      The photos are the first I’ve seen of where my father died and have left me with a deep sense of sadness and regret.

      1. Tina Jones says:

        My great aunt – Bessie Hoskin – was listed as a patient on the 1939 Register at the ‘Mental Hospital, Bodmin’ and described as ‘Incapacitated’. She died in 1949, aged 76.
        Unfortunately, I have no idea why she was sent there and how her life was.

  8. Unknown says:

    It is still there to this date no matter what you all say because I have seen it within the last month. However it is closely guarded, hidden and not much remaining. Havn’t been inside but doesn’t look too promising.

    1. The Urban Explorer says:

      It is still there

      not much remaining

      So what is there, and what is left?

      1. Trevor Green says:

        It still has an action in the live part for patients with depression and psychosis etc. but most of it is farmed out to the likes of specialist consulting rooms, physio etc. The old part is pretty much non-existent now but saying that I know people that have been inpatients in the old part, pretty freaky as they come out worse than they went in!

        1. George says:

          Is this place smashed up? 🤔

    2. Not a Crazy says:

      I am writing this comment… from my living room… in my house… on the site of the former St Lawrences Hospital. Pretty sure I am not in an asylum right now and it no longer exists.

      1. Jimmy Sparks says:

        There is no housing development on the existing St Lawrence’s site, it was demolished fully within the last 10 years, I used to be an electrician for the NHS in Bodmin and would
        often go into the old hospital at night if the main hospital had electrical issues. Very creepy, the tunnels still lie there underneath it all and actually run from the courthouse to the jail.

    3. MentaHealthWorker says:

      It isn’t there, I work in the hospital next door, St. Lawrences was knocked down a few years ago.

      Picture of the current site is named Birds Eye View

  9. Ebony says:

    Gutted to find out that this place is on longer standing, was looking forward to have a look around there when I start college after the summer.

    1. joshdragon04 says:

      Yeah I know, it’s annoying as hell! These days, abandoned places in Britain are disappearing all over the place. Soon we will have none left!

      1. Jo Dodgem says:

        St Lawrence’s Hospital was built in Victorian times when people with mental health problems were incarcerated and kept away from the community. This building holds horrific memories and is best deleted from history I think.

  10. Henry says:

    Great photos mate do you have more?
    I’ve just been there for something else this evening and it’s just grass where it stood. Should have left it as a filming set would have been useful to the industry and created a few jobs. Wasted knocked down unless the land was used for something else. H

    1. The Urban Explorer says:

      I probably do have a few more, but they’d be ones I wasn’t happy with. For example, out of focus, uninteresting, low-light. So I don’t think you’re missing out on anything! Ha!

  11. Scott says:

    This was great….

    Woke up this morning, and thought …I want to visit an abandoned site.

    Firstly, I must ask though …is this building still standing? Some of the comments read as though it’s no longer there….

    Seeing a few finds on BuzzFeed has really given me the thirst for it …yet, today I’m finally going to one. Found your site straight away …..and this was the first article I read. I’m from Cornwall, StAgnes ….so when I’m back, and driving passed Bodmin, I’ll be stopping by.
    I was lucky enough to take photos from inside the old abandoned Model Village some years back, before it was knocked down and turned into a film studios ….which, are now ALSO abandoned!!

    I’m off to Germany next week, and drcided to take day out to find the missile site the Russians abandoned when they left. Looks great in all pics I’ve seen…

    Thank you for such a great site.
    I shall now choose my adventure location for today

    1. The Urban Explorer says:

      Pretty sure St Lawrences has been redeveloped now. But there’s no evidence like seeing with your own eyes!

      1. Lolly says:

        Sadly st Lawrence’s no longer stands. I worked in the new hospital as a student nurse in 2003/2004 and persuaded a security guard to give me a guided tour; I have photos somewhere.
        I recently revisited for old times sake and was shocked and saddened to see not a glimmer of the old buildings :-( if you knew the grounds well as I did you can just about make out the shape of the original grounds/gardens

        1. Lisa says:

          Hi Lolly. I’m putting together some information on St Lawrences and would be great to have some images of the building around the 1984 time – including Kendall, Carew, Rashleigh etc. Any other info/stories you have would be gratefully received. It’s a bit of a memory book on behalf of a very dear friend who spent a period of time at SLH. Best Wishes

          1. Lolly says:

            I will dig out the photos and scan any useful ones for you :-) if you send me an email at I’ll have your email address to send to :-)

    2. mandrew says:

      Do you have to pay or need permission if you would want to film there?

      1. The Urban Explorer says:

        You’d probably need to go back in time too! I believe the site has been developed in to housing?…

  12. Shah says:

    I was there between 1975 and 1977. I met my wife Lucia there. Moved to London and we were there together until she passed away in April 2014.

    1. The Urban Explorer says:

      That’s lovely. Thanks for sharing your story, and I’m sorry to hear of your loss.

  13. Tracy says:

    You are very lucky to have had a look around the site. I used to pop into the canteen to grab lunch when I worked at the neighbouring hospital, Warleggan ward.

    There is absolutely nothing left now to show that there was ever a building at all! All of the lovely Victorian architecture, gone, vanished! So, so sad that the history is lost. I feel at least a museum should have been set up in its memory.


    1. I do feel lucky to have seen it, Tracy. Although I wish I’d taken more photos!

  14. guy says:

    Here’s another one for you in Cornwall. Defo worth a look but not sure if it’s still there…..

    1. That’s a nice little site! I imagine it’d look pretty good all lit up at night. I suspect there’s a lot of exploring to be done down Cornwall that’s missed because it’s just so far out the way! Are you local? You should go check it out!

      1. Genny says:

        I was put in St Lawrence’s hospital in the 1980s after a nervous breakdown, they still had isolation cells then with big metal doors like the old gaols where they put people with schizophrenia who didn’t respond to or take their medication, it was an archaic way to treat people and I believe these isolation cell inmates were frequently mistreated by staff.

  15. Lolly says:

    I have hard (old fadhioned) photos of this hospital from when I was a student nurse there in 2003 just after the functioning hospital had moved over to the new premises; I managed to persuade a security guard to take me on a tour on one of his daily checks :-)

  16. Matt says:

    This is a great historical record – I went there at the weekend and the demolition is almost complete.

    1. That’s a real shame! I just wish I’d taken more photos, especially of the exterior!

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