Further Reading


Cane Hill Hospital, the Tower on the Hill, by Pam Buttrey, is without doubt the most comprehensive history of Cane Hill. Published in 2010, it draws from the reports by the Commissioners in Lunacy, the Board of Control, various archives, and local newspapers to provide a detailed factual account of the work of the hospital. Copies can be purchased from Pam’s website for £14, including P&P.

buddleiaBuddleia Dance on the Asylum is Stephen Burrow’s excellent account of his time working in the 1970s as a porter, and later as a nurse. It features comment on the community of the hospital and the idiosyncracies of the institution, as well as experience of interactions with many staff members and patients. Published in 2010, this is most detailed personal account of Cane Hill available to date.


Survival of the Coolest is William Pryor’s account of his experiences of drug addiction, featuring a chapter about his time in the Salter Unit in the late 1960s. He talks of his relationships with staff and
patients and the attitudes within the hospital towards those undertaking treatment for drug addiction.

barhamClosing the Asylum is Peter Barham’s interpretation of the period leading up to the closure of the asylums. It draws on experiences of professionals and patient from London hospitals and mentions Cane Hill several times. It is also a valuable resource for those interested in the early days of Care in the Community.


My Autobiography by Charlie Chaplin, features his and his brother Sydney’s reactions to their Mother Hannah’s incarceration in Cane Hill from 1903 to 1912. It is of particular interest due to the age of the two boys at the time (14 and 18 at the time of Hannah’s admission), and later their decision (and financial ability) to move her to a private institution


The Cult of Cane Hill by Simon Cornwell is an excellent resource, featuring photographs from around the hospital, as well as extensive comment on it’s  design and features, as well as the life the hospital took when it closed it’s doors. This is the best Cane Hill website available, and is set to grow in the future. The Urbex Uk section of the site lists visits to other mental hospitals and derelict buildings, accompanied by photographs and comment.

Mechanised‘s account of Cane Hill features photographs from around the hospital and comment on it’s dereliction and the relationship forged with the buildings during his visits. A second account on the website expands on the thoughts presented in the first. There are also accounts of visits to several other derelict medical institutions, which may be of interest. One of my favourites.

Abandoned Britain by Joe Collier features a photographic account of visits to the hospital during it’s dereliction.  There are photographs from across the site, listed as several themes.  In addition, there are photographs of several other institutions.

Canehill.org.uk is the regeneration site for Cane Hill. This is the best place to go to find information about the future of the site. It is run by the Homes and Communities Agency, who own the site and are responsible for it’s regeneration.

1885 Regulations and Orders for the guidance of the sub-officers, attendants, servants, and all persons engaged in the service of the Surrey County Asylum at Cane Hill.

7 thoughts on “Further Reading”

  1. Really good website – i am sure it will grow as staff and ?consumers feel safe writing here
    Well done

  2. just finished reading Buddleia Dance on the asylum – really interesting book. It helped me understand some of the ways in which the staff acted when I was a patient there. Certainly the element of fear from staff that patients could get out of control if staff didn’t clamp down on any behaviour that they considered insubordinate. I remember asking a nurse why he was trying to make things so “****ing” difficult for me – I was newly admitted and it was the only occasion on which I swore. I was astonished when a week later this was brought up by the consultant psychiatrist on ward round as an example of my unacceptable behaviour!

  3. The Museum of Croydon recommend this book: ‘Cane Hill Hospital: The Tower on the Hill’ by Pam Buttrey, Aubrey Warsash Publishing, 2010. It is available on inter-library loan from any public library.

  4. My great great grandmother, Susan Hardy, was admitted to the hospital in 1884, and remained there till she died in 1895. I am wondering if there still exists any case notes or information about her condition or treatment when she was there?

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