History of Roundway Hospital 1851 – 1995

Main Entrance

Roundway Hospital was a psychiatric hospital in the parish of Roundway near Devizes, Wiltshire. It was originally called the Wiltshire County Lunatic Asylum and later the Wiltshire County Mental Hospital. It opened in 1851 and closed in 1995 where it was sold and converted into 127 homes.

Construction and inauguration

The hospital was originally conceived in 1848 by a committee of Justices chaired by Sir John Wither Awdry for “providing an asylum for the pauper lunatics of the county of Wiltshire alone”. Forty-eight acres of land was purchased from Mr THS Southeron at the end of Pans Lane in the parish of Roundway. The cost was raised by loans from the government and other subscribers to be paid back over 21 years. Construction was started in 1849. The architect was Thomas Henry Wyatt, well known for his institutional architecture. The style was Italianate and the first phase cost £19,594. Construction was by T & W Piper, the addition of ironwork by Knight & Co. for railings around the buildings cost a further £1,069. The principal building material was stone from the Murhill Quarries near Winsley and the roof slates came from Wales. The quarries were conveniently placed about 15 miles away along the Kennet and Avon Canal which had opened some 50 years earlier. The slates were likewise transported by canal.

Developments in structure

Originally the hospital was called the Wiltshire County Lunatic Asylum when it received the first inmates on 19 September 1851. When the hospital was first constructed it was insufficient for the population demand and extensions were added. This happened regularly as the population grew and it was only during the 1940s that no building extensions were added.

1858 saw a new female ward built and in 1863–66 three more wards were added. Further wards were added in 1877. In 1890 a third storey was added to the main building. A house called “Campfield House” was built for the Physician Superintendent in 1892 and a recreation hall and engine room were added in 1898 when the main power changed from gas to electricity. In 1922 the name of the hospital was changed to the Wiltshire County Mental Hospital. In 1927 accommodation for nurses was built. 1935 saw a further building programme to increase accommodation and in 1937 the hospital chapel was completed.

The Hospital Chapel – now demolished

The Old Roundway Hospital Chapel