MONYHULL HALL HOSPITAL

©  COLIN BAKER   2007                                                                                       

Monyhull Hall was built by  Ezra James Milward, a Gun Manufacturer from Leamington it replaced an earlier house built on the site that was known as Money Hull Hall.

It is believed to be close to the site of a large moated house known as Monyhill Manor and listed in the Domesday Book of 1086.

When Milward brought the estate at auction in 1864, it consisted of 128 acres of land, farm building, brewhouse, stabling and the Hall, which became the family home for the next 40 years, during which time he had the Hall re-built.  In 1905 the hall with its estate was brought by the Guardians of the Poor for Birmingham, Kings Norton & Aston as a mental hospital to be known as the Monyhull Colony. The original 128 acres and building were brought for a total of £13,500, a further adjoining 57 acres of land was brought, bringing the total cost to £20,600, the estate now covered an area from Monyhull Hall Road, along a stretch of the Stratford - Upon - Avon Canal to the Alcester Road, and back along Druids Lane.

The intention was to develop a self-sufficient community of “inmates” aged between 16 - 45 years of age with the patients working on the farmland to supply their own needs.

The existing Monyhull Hall was altered to be used as Administrative offices, with residence for a Matron and female staff and a Dispensary, and separate one and two storey building were built to accommodate up to 210 “inmates”. In November 1907, Miss M. J. Carse an assistant matron from Selly Oak Infirmary was appointed Matron, and on the 11th April 1908 the “Monyhull Colony, Homes for Epileptics & Feeble Minded” was opened by Alderman H. J. Sayer. J. P. Lord Mayor of Birmingham.

By December 1908, they reported having 252 “inmates”, and by 1912 further building had increased accommodation to 345, with plans to extend that to 500, but the work was not to be completed for when war broke out it was commandeered for use as a 400 bed military hospital, opening on 22nd November 1916. Some 5,000 patients were treated at Monyhull between 1916 and 1919. Convoys of wounded soldiers, including many colonial troops arrived almost daily. "One section of the hospital was especially set aside for the nursing of the many shell shocked cases that were brought here”. Monyhull also began to admit "Service Patients" these being "epileptic discharged soldiers" who had been sent there by the local war pensions committees.

During the war further land and property was purchased and the estate grew to over 320 acres, and capacity was increased to over 1300. When the buildings were handed back on 31st December 1919 restoration and repair work was required, which was completed in 1920.

For the next 40 years the Hospital continued as a Mental Health Hospital, in 1956 there was 1127 patients living there, some working within the Hospital, on the farms and others in the Laundry and as cleaners and gardeners, others worked outside the Hospital, returning after work to the Hospital. 

There were many patients that spent their whole lives at Monyhull, one such resident entered the Hospital in 1926 aged 9, and left 56 years later, another admitted aged 14 spent over 40 years there.

By the 1960’s attitudes towards mental health patients were changing, it was reported that patients should no longer be used as cheap labour, and that their time in hospital should be used for more therapeutic work tailored to the needs of the individual, as a result the farms were closed down, cattle, pigs and farm implements were sold by auction in 1961, and in 1965 the land was sold to Birmingham City Corporation, who then built the Druids Heath Housing Estate upon the land.

By 1979, the Hospital had reduced the number of in – patients to 552, and finally the “ Care in the Community” Consultative Document Study in 1981, brought about the closure of Mental Hospitals, and finally in 1999, Monyhull closed. 

In Birmingham, six other Hospitals were closed as a result of the study, Highcroft, All Saints, John Connelly, Rubery, Hollymoor and Midland Nerve Hospitals

The Hospital Chapel opened on 30th June 1917 and was later dedicated to St Francis, still stands in the centre of the new housing estate. It was renamed Monyhull Church in 2004. There is a plaque in the church in memory of 3 members of staff that died whilst on duty during an air raid on the 28th November 1940. They are named as

 

Charles Davies 33

William Turner 57

Frank Wood 39

 

Another building that survives is Bells Farmhouse, originally a Tudor House, which was used by the farm Manager’s, until the farm was sold, it has now been restored and is used as a Community Centre.

Some of the original buildings that were St Francis Residential School since 1920 still exist today, although it is now known as Lindsworth School.

Also a number of the residential blocks that housed the military patients still survive relatively intact despite major redevelopment of the Monyhull Colony site as a housing estate in recent years.

Bells Farmhouse

The Hospital Chapel today, now known as Monyhull Church

Monyhull Hall now converted to luxury apartments