Whittingham Hospital – Whittingham, England - Atlas Obscura

Whittingham Hospital

Whittingham, England

This hospital once pioneered the use of electroencephalograms, but fell into maltreatment, abuse, and eventual abandonment. 

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Sorry, Whittingham Hospital is permanently closed.

Opened in 1873, this mental hospital was known for pioneering the use of electroencephalograms, or EEGs, a diagnostic device that measures electrical impulses along the scalp. The hospital treated soldiers injured during World War I and II.

Yet the hospital’s infamy comes from its history of patient abuses, which included patients being left unattended for long periods of time, being fed scraps, and being strangled to the point of unconsciousness. In July 1967, student nurses working at the hospital submitted a number of complaints reporting cruelty, poor treatment, and fraud in the hospital. Though they were threatened with charges of libel and slander for their reports, hospital management eventually opened an inquiry into the poor patient conditions.

In the following decades, new drugs and therapies emerged to better treat mental illnesses. Patients at Whittingham were returned to their communities or moved to new treatment facilities, and the hospital shut down in 1995.

The site continues to host a medium secure psychiatric unit but most of the original buildings have now been demolished to make way for a housing development. The listed St Johns church and its graveyard remain, the headstones one of the few reminders of the history of the surrounding land.