Wednesday, 3 November 2010

"Idiot Colony"

If you go down to the woods today...

Many of the inhabitants of Great Barr in Birmingham would be in for a very big surprise, were they to discover there was a stately home, right on their very doorstep. Such is its location - hidden away behind a dark, unruly wood, the twisted fingers of which claw at the sky like a harvest of drowning souls - that few ever realise it's actually there.

What makes the wood, and the burnt-out shell of Great Barr Hall, all the more eerie is the fact they both stand on the grounds of the old St. Margaret's mental hospital. Now demolished and replaced by a new housing estate, various outbuildings remain in states of disrepair, such as the special school with its huge chimneys, pictured below.

Walking around the grounds today, you get a sense of something not quite right. Whether it's the desperately creepy silence, despite the close proximity to the M6 motorway, or the local stories that live on about the place, including faces at windows, a hanging tree that curses anybody who touches it and just what really went on in the barred cells located beneath the old asylum.

In less enlightened times it was known as the "Great Barr Idiot Colony", and the Hall, also said to play host to a number of ghastly spectres, was an integral part. Nowadays the Hall is left to rot - the nearby lakes too - fenced off from a public barely aware of its existence.

A full set of shots can be found here and here


  1. I'll second that. Anyone would think you were a writer... :)

  2. My grandmother's brother Harry Leslie Smith lived there from 1925 until his death in 1970. I only know a brief story about him...wish I knew more and why he was there. Nice photos and comments...thanks!