Leavesden Hospital History Society has held six sold-out ghost walks, introducing 130 people to spooky spots around the former asylum.
Martin Brooks, founder of the society, has been conducting regular history walks since 2009. Following feedback from visitors, he decided to organise a series of special ghost walks.
Taking place throughout October, the walks have been immensely popular.
Martin said: “I didn’t want the walks to feel commercialised like the many Jack the Ripper tours on offer. I spent a lot of time going through our archives before putting the walk together.”
The hospital, which opened in 1870 and closed its doors for good in 1995, was located in Leavesden opposite an orphanage and workhouse.
The hospital was largely demolished when it was converted into a private housing estate, Leavesden Court. Martin believes that developers demolished the imposing Victorian building because they wanted to erase the history of the building, which they feared might deter potential buyers.
The tours, now conducted by ‘graveyard Emma’ since Martin moved away from the area, feature the stories of various sightings around the former hospital. These include rumours of a top-hatted figure, believed to be a gate-keeper who died in a fire in the 19th century; a ghost seen near the isolation ward believed to be a nurse who passed away from a disease contracted on the ward; and spooky goings-on near a dilapidated farm building which was the site of a double murder in 1897.
Martin says the project of compiling the history of the hospital has been immensely rewarding.
He said: “I thought to myself, the people who worked at the hospital or those who had relatives who were patients here are ageing and dying; if someone doesn’t record this, so much rich history will be lost.”
To find out more, visit www.leavesdenhospital.org