Holloway Sanatorium, Virginia Water

Holloway Sanatorium, Virginia Water

Thomas Holloway became interested in the prospect of building a sanatorium after attending a public meeting at which Lord Shaftsbury attempted to raise £5000 for a ‘middle-class’  asylum.

Thomas Holloway was ‘a champion of progressive mental health care……’ and in ‘1864 turned to philanthropy and began plans for a sanatorium.  In 1871 he initiated a public debate, inviting suggestions as to ‘How best to spend a quarter of a million or more’, as the means to effect ‘the greatest public good’.  In September 1871 Holloway held a competition for architects interested in building his new sanatorium. Thirteen applications were received, and the winning entry was by Crossland, Salomans and Jones.

Jane Holloway Courtesy of Royal Holloway College

Jane Holloway
Courtesy of Royal Holloway College

In 1873 work started on Holloway’s Sanatorium at Virginia Water. The Sanatorium: A Registered Hospital for the Insane was opened by Edward, Prince of Wales in 1885.

By 1892 the hospital had grown so much that the Annual Report states that it was fast approaching its limit. At this time there were 615 patients being treated for insanity cause by “domestic and business troubles, worry and overwork”. Other causes were given as influenza, drink, nervous shock and sunstroke.

The Hospital continued to prosper and was run by a Board of Trustees, until the middle of the twentieth century, shortly after the end of the Second World War, when it was taken over by the National Health Service.

Author Bill Bryson worked at the Sanatorium in 1973, and gives an account of his time there in his ‘Notes From A Small Island’.

‘The hospital ………had its own joinery shop and electricians, plumbers and painters, its own coach and coach driver.  It has a snooker room, a badminton court and swimming-pool, a tuck shop and a chapel, a cricket pitch and social club …  Once a week they showed movies in a kind of ballroom.  The patients did all the gardening that didn’t involve sharp tools and kept the grounds immaculate.  It was a bit like a country club …. I liked it very much’

The sanatorium closed in December 1981 and the site was been taken over by a property developer. The main hall of the sanatorium has now been converted to an indoor heated swimming pool at the heart of a complex of luxury flats and apartments known as Virginia Park.


Chertsey Museum Research Room local history boxfile 8

Chertsey Museum Research Room Document 18

Chertsey Museum Research Room Photo 43

Octagon: Virginia Park, The Restoration of a Masterpiece

Bicentenary Programme Royal Holloway

‘Notes From A Small Island’ by Bill Bryson