Construction of the Maudsley Hospital main building was
authorised in October 1913 and completed two years later by which
time building and site costs had risen to £69,750.
Six wards (two for assessment and four for treatment) housed 144
beds rather than the 108 originally planned. The red-brick Portland
stone design resembled a district general hospital or town hall
rather than a prison or asylum.
Yet the opening of the hospital to fulfil Henry Maudsley's
original vision was still some way off. Before its completion, the
hospital was requisitioned by the War Office to deal with the
military casualties of the First World War. While physical injuries
and disabilities were treated at King's College Hospital (or the
4th London Hospital General, as it was called by the military),
those suffering from the serious and puzzling condition then known
as 'shell shock' were sent to its subsidiary, Maudsley Hospital
(or 'Neurological Clearing Hospital') on the other side of
There research was conducted into the pathology of the disorder,
and patients were encouraged into carpentry, gardening and
recreation in an attempt to restore their basic functioning and
confidence. A specific Act of Parliament had to be obtained in 1915
to allow the institution to accept voluntary patients.
All patients labelled as 'neurological' (unwounded, but
suffering from neurasthenia, the functional paralyses, hysteria or
milder psychoses) were transferred to the Camberwell-based
hospital. Patients received a short preliminary course of
treatment, after which many recovered rapidly and could return to
light duty. The more serious cases were transferred to other
hospitals provided for the purpose, such as the Springfield War
Hospital in Wandsworth.
In 1916 the King and Queen visited and were pleased with the
arrangements and accommodation for the treatment of
soldiers. By 1917 the hospital accommodated 185 soldiers and
18 officers with shell-shock, neurasthenia or acute mental
disorder. After the war the hospital was demobilised but, from
August 1919 until October 1920, it was funded by the Ministry of
Pensions to treat ex-servicemen suffering from neurasthenia.
Henry Maudsley lived to see the hospital used during the war but
died before it was open for civilian purposes.