The History of Mundesley Hospital (Tuberculosis Sanatorium) (UK)

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The History of Mundesley Hospital (Tuberculosis Sanatorium) (UK)

Mundesley sanatorium was built in pre-fabricated sections made of timber, by Boulton and Paul ltd. It was the first large centre in England that had been built specifically for open-air treatment of the disease. However, due to its status as a private hospital, Mundesley could only offer treatment to wealthy patients. Mundesley had a post and telegraph office, and is was terminus of the Great Eastern, and Midland and Great Northern Railways, so that it was easily accessible from London, the Midlands, and the North.

The sanatorium was built one mile distant from the railway station, and about the same distance in a direct line from the sea. It was built on the southern slope of a hill, to protect it from the prevailing winds, while to the south an expanse of countryside, that had a view extending for several miles in that direction. The sanatorium was built on twenty-five acres of land, approached by two private roads, with no main road within a quarter of a mile to secure isolation and freedom from dust. The sanatorium was built on two levels with attic accommodation for servants. All the rooms for the use of patients faced the south, twelve bedrooms being on the upper floor and three on the ground floor.

Mundesley Sanatorium 1901

Easter 1901 – Mundesley Sanatorium (Credit: James Fanning 2014)

A large dining and drawing rooms were also situated on the ground floor, and a corridor 8 ft. wide extended the whole length of the building on both floors, giving access to the rooms. Large casement windows were fitted to all the rooms, which can be opened so as to admit a maximum amount of air, and over each bedroom door there is a ventilator. The floors were covered with linoleum and the inside walls with pegamoid paper, to allow cleaning with damp cloths as to not stir up dust, most of the furniture has been specially designed with the same objective. All corners were rounded to prevent dust accumulation. Fresh air formed an important part of the treatment for tuberculosis, with many hospitals using open windows and balconies.


Before the Industrial Revolution, folklore often associated tuberculosis (TB) with vampires. When one member of a family died from it, the other infected members would lose their health slowly. People believed this was caused by the original person with TB draining the life from the other family members.

None - This image is in the public domain and ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Due to the variety of its symptoms, TB was not identified as a single disease until the 1820s, and was not named tuberculosis until 1839 by Dr J. L. Schönlein.

During 1838–1845, Dr. John Croghan, the owner of Mammoth Cave, brought a number of people with tuberculosis into the cave in the hope of curing the disease with the constant temperature and purity of the cave air; they died within a year.

Dr Hermann Brehmer opened the first TB sanatorium on the second of July 1859 in Poland, for the treatment of tuberculosis. Patients were exposed to plentiful amounts of high altitude, fresh air, and good nutrition. Tuberculosis sanatoria became common throughout Europe from the late 19th century onwards. The rationale for sanatoria was that before antibiotic treatments existed, a regimen of rest and good nutrition offered the best chance that the sufferer’s immune system would “wall off” pockets of pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) infection.

The bacillus causing tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, was identified and described on 24 March 1882 by Robert Koch. He received the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1905 for this discovery. Koch did not believe the bovine (cattle) and human tuberculosis diseases were similar, which delayed the recognition of infected milk as a source of infection. Later, the risk of transmission from this source was dramatically reduced by the invention of the pasteurisation process. Koch announced a glycerine extract of the tubercle bacilli as a “remedy” for tuberculosis in 1890, calling it ‘tuberculin’. While it was not effective, it was later successfully adapted as a screening test for the presence of presymptomatic tuberculosis.

The reluctance to adopt the open-air treatment in Britain is undoubted, many different factors were involved. There was some satisfaction and hope in the progressive year-by-year drop in the mortality rate from tuberculosis, which fell from 3239 per million in 1861-70 to 2429 per million in 1881-90. The clinicians were aware that it was in no way due to their activities, there was still a widespread and strong belief in the merits of climate, the fickle British climate being regarded as unsuitable.

Portrait of Robert Koch (1843—1910).

Portrait of Robert Koch (1843—1910). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An exaggerated fear of draughts and chills led to closed windows and stuffy, over-heated rooms for patients. ‘All social classes were prejudiced against fresh air, and their prejudices were not without foundation. First, on quasi-medical grounds that are still with us, there was the fear of draughts: the draughts would produce the great British chill, an affliction unknown to the rest of the civilised world’ (Dr Anne Hardy). There was, however, no need for the patient with tuberculosis to fear a cold draught.

Indeed, Dr William Farr (1807-1883) had pointed out in 1865 that ‘Phthisis differs essentially in its pathological products, in its complications, and in its fluctuations from bronchitis. For example, the mortality from bronchitis is immediately doubled, or trebled, by a depression of the temperature of the air, while deaths from phthisis exhibit little variation’.

Possibly the daunting magnitude of the problem was the major factor. According to Dr J W Moore (1845-1947), ‘In a week every bed in every hospital in the United Kingdom might be filled with consumptives, and even then thousands upon thousands might be left without hospital accommodation, so wide-spread is the plague of phthisis’. Dr J A Lindsay, writing in 1897, calculated that a quarter of a million persons were suffering from phthisis in the British Isles.

Few believed that open-air treatment could be tolerated throughout the year in Britain. However, Dr R W Philip (1857-1939) published a table showing the hours spent each day in the open by 35 individual patients during the months of February, March and April 1899, together with the daily hours of sunshine, at the Victoria Hospital in Edinburgh. This showed decisively that, even in Edinburgh in the winter months, it was not merely feasible but surprisingly popular amongst patients, once they had experienced it and overcome their prejudice.

1901 Dr. F W Burton-Fanning

Easter 1901 – Dr. F W Burton-Fanning in a group photograph at Mundesley Sanatorium (Credit: James Fanning)

Six to ten hours in the open was not uncommon. Dr Frederick William Burton-Fanning’s experience was similar: ‘fortunately the first contingent of patients soon manifested remarkable improvement and satisfied themselves that their strength, appetite and spirits were increased by the open-air life. Newcomers have been taken in hand by the older patients and now the difficulty is to get them indoors at all’. Dr J H Walker found ‘… the general result, extending over several years and embracing in all 78 cases is encouraging, and presents features of hopefulness, even in advanced phthisis, which a few years ago would have seemed quite beyond the bounds of possibility’. The ideal patient would have a short history and few signs of toxicity. Just how long it would be necessary to be an inpatient remained to be discovered. It would certainly be more than the two or so months generally allowed at that time; Burton-Fanning thought a year might be needed.

Mundesley TB Sanatorium

Dr F W Burton-Fanning (1863-1937) was educated at Winchester and at University College Hospital, becoming M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P. in 1885. He won the gold medal in medicine and became house-physician to Dr. Wilson-Fox at University College Hospital. After three years’ residence as house-physician at Addenbrooke’s hospital he became M.B., and later M.D., of Cambridge. In 1891 he was appointed physician to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.

He visited the Continent frequently and was influenced in fresh-air treatment by Dr W R Huggard of Davos and Dr M G Foster of San Remo.  In 1895 he began the “Open-air Treatment of Pulmonary Tuberculosis ” at the Fletcher Convalescent Home at Cromer.

Easter 1901 - William Joseph Fanning , sitting outside the Sanitorium

Easter 1901 William Joseph Fanning, sitting outside the Sanatorium . Born in India 1852 where his father was an army officer for 19 years before moving to Australia in 1858 where father went to work for the British East India Co. setting up Cattle and Sheep stations in New South Wales and Queensland. (Credit: James Fanning 2014)

He pointed out that the 24 patients in his 1898 report (which appeared in the Larncet) had had a less than satisfactory application of the open-air method in that there was no resident doctor (he visited once a week or fortnight) and that their diet was less than desirable. Furthermore, since the trial was conducted in a convalescent home, the length of stay was restricted. Nevertheless, his results were better than anything he had achieved before and tubercle bacilli had been eliminated from the sputum of 2 of the 23 originally sputum-positive patients. He opened the first purpose-built sanatorium for the open-air treatment in England at Mundesley, on the North Sea coast of Norfolk, with his cousin Dr. W. J. Fanning in October 1899.

In 1905, Burton-Fanning’s book on Open Air Treatment of Pulmonary Tuberidosi; was published by Cassells. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London in the following year, he was honorary secretary of the Section of Medicine at the Ipswich meeting in 1900, and became vice-president of the same Section at the Cambridge meeting twenty years later.

Mundesley sanatorium was built in pre-fabricated sections made of timber, by Boulton and Paul ltd. It was the first large centre in England that had been built specifically for open-air treatment of the disease. However, due to its status as a private hospital, Mundesley could only offer treatment to wealthy patients. Mundesley had a post and telegraph office, and is was terminus of the Great Eastern, and Midland and Great Northern Railways, so that it was easily accessible from London, the Midlands, and the North.

The sanatorium was built one mile distant from the railway station, and about the same distance in a direct line from the sea. It was built on the southern slope of a hill, to protect it from the prevailing winds, while to the south an expanse of countryside, that had a view extending for several miles in that direction. The sanatorium was built on twenty-five acres of land, approached by two private roads, with no main road within a quarter of a mile to secure isolation and freedom from dust. The sanatorium was built on two levels with attic accommodation for servants.

All the rooms for the use of patients faced the south, twelve bedrooms being on the upper floor and three on the ground floor. A large dining and drawing rooms were also situated on the ground floor, and a corridor 8 ft. wide extended the whole length of the building on both floors, giving access to the rooms. Large casement windows were fitted to all the rooms, which can be opened so as to admit a maximum amount of air, and over each bedroom door there is a ventilator.

The floors were covered with linoleum and the inside walls with pegamoid paper, to allow cleaning with damp cloths as to not stir up dust, most of the furniture has been specially designed with the same objective. All corners were rounded to prevent dust accumulation. Fresh air formed an important part of the treatment for tuberculosis, with many hospitals using open windows and balconies.

English: Predominantly white poster with black...

English: Predominantly white poster with black and red lettering. Title at top of poster. Visual image is an illustration of a man holding a handkerchief over his mouth. Caption and publisher information below illustration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A verandah ran along the whole southern part of the building, where patients could lie out on long cane chairs, and shelters. each held two to four patients, and were provided near the house in which they could recline when the wind blows from the south. Originally at Mundesley, there were also a number of moveable wooden huts in the grounds, looking rather like summer houses on wheels, in which patients could spend all day (and all night if deemed necessary) in the fresh air without facing into the wind.

The building was lit electrically, this extended to the verandah and the shelters, to enable maximum time in the fresh air. The sanatorium was centrally heating using radiators with some rooms having open fireplaces. Water was pumped from a deep well extending into the chalk, and was laid on all over the building. The Norfolk coast was selected for the open-air treatment, as was thought its air extremely bracing and clear, it had a large amount of sunshine and very small rainfall. These were the ideal climatic requirements for good health as they were thought to deter catarrh and feeble circulation. Dr. W. J. Fanning the resident medical officer at the sanatorium, and Burton-Fanning (chief physician and founder) visited at least once a week.

There was also a matron, who looked after the patients and the housekeeping. The weekly charge was fixed at £5 5s, this did not include personal laundry, alcohol, or extra nursing if required.

Mundesley promoted itself as ‘health resort’, of sorts, where tuberculosis sufferers could rest and recuperate, alongside receiving treatment. For those who could manage it, active participation in a range of convalescent activities seemed to be encouraged. The hospital organised outdoor games and occasional light sports contests between patients and staff. At Mundesley sanatorium a point was made of weighing all the food eaten and prescribing the amount of the different food stuffs according to the condition of the patient and the exercise he takes.

Mundesley TB Sanatorium

A golf course was established by Burton-Fanning, who happened to be an avid golfer, in 1901. It was designed with the help of one of the sport’s legends, 6-times Open winner Harry Vardon (1870–1937) and built on the rolling hillside of the River Mun valley. This was designed as a form of gentle exercise for the patients of the sanatorium.

In 1903 Harry Vardon was diagnosed with tuberculosis. His doctors made discreet and immediate inquires for Harry to enter Mundesley sanatorium. Dispensing with their length waiting list, Burton-Fanning, admitted Harry at once. Celebrity status affords many privileges, not all of the deserved. On this occasion the goodwill Harry’s reputation gave him probably saved his life. Mundesely was England’s forefront and most expensive treatment centre. Harry travelled with a private nurse and as ordered by Burton-Fanning, left his golf clubs at home. His room had a view of the golf course, he was denied all visitors and the only activity that was allowed was light reading.

Mundesley TB Sanatorium

For the first three weeks, Harry was confined to his bed, the thought behind the cessation of physical activity was the reduction of oxygen consumption, enabling lung tissues damaged by the diseased bacteria to heal. Once he relented to the illness he would sleep for twelve hours a day, spending his waking hours gazing out at the beautiful surroundings. By the second month, he was allowed to leave his bed for an hour a day, this would find him out of breath after fifty paces. As each week passed the doctors would allow him another hour on his feet, which meant he was able to withstand card games on the porch, read books in the library and take turns at the billiard table. In the third month Harry insisted on dressing each morning and taking his meals with the other patients in the dining room. Despite his fame, he was an equal amongst the other patients, encouraging them to keep faith in their treatments.

Mundesley TB Sanatorium

He soon realised that the world was forgetting about him, he was not expected to survive. As month four passed, his appetite and strength was returning, he was allowed to walk in the grounds, often walking to the golf course. One day he had spotted a large wooden chalet hidden in the woods and discovered that this was where the most seriously ill patients were housed. With permission of the nursing staff he was allowed to visit these patients, most children in their teens. He kept them company during the separation from their families.

In the fifth month, Harry asked to borrow a club from Burton-Fanning, and with that he took his first stroke with a golf club in half a year. Unfortunately the illness had irreversibly damaged the nerves in his right wrist, and aggravation of a bone broken a long time ago, which lead to uncontrollable tremors . He would often spend time on the green, calling on his old practice disciplines determined to find a way around this disability. Christmas was celebrated with champagne and an elaborate dinner as a gift to his new friends in the sanatorium.

Easter 1901 - W J Fanning's son at the sanatorium

W J Fannings son Edward, who also tragically died of TB in 1934 aged 42 , although he went for treatment at another well known TB sanatorium at Cranham , Gloucestershire being close to the family home. He was a submarine commander with the Royal Navy during WW1 and in 1919 went out to South Africa where he farmed in the Cape for the next 14 years raising his family there. (Credit: James Fanning)

To boost morale, he would organise supervised outings to nearby towns and seafronts. Whilst recuperating in 1904, still at the sanatorium, he ventured along the lane which bisects the course to enjoy a round of golf. Here he experienced his only career hole-in-one, on what is now the sixth, a feat which no doubt contributed to the success of his convalescence.

In 1902, the generosity of some friends enabled the Kelling sanatorium to be built for the treatment of patients of the poorer classes, and the medical direction was undertaken by Burton-Fanning and Dr. W. J. Fanning. Commencing with ten beds this sanatorium, of which Burton-Fanning has continued to act as consulting physician, now contains 150 beds. It was there that the ‘revolving shelter’ was designed and introduced. This was funded by the fees collected from Mundesley sanatorium.

Mundesley TB Sanatorium

In a general meeting on the 2 August 1904, following a preliminary meeting on the 16 July 1904 , Mr. H. Harper Smith, of the Old Bank of England court, Queen-street, Norwich was appointed liquidator of Mundesley sanatorium Ltd as the company entered voluntary insolvency.

Dr Sydney Vere Pearson, returned to Britain in 1905, following sanatorium treatment in Germany. He was a physician who specialised in tuberculosis and became and became Medical Superintendent of Mundesley sanatorium. Pearson had obtained an MA and MD from Cambridge and MRCP from London, but his  career as a consulting physician was curtailed by a severe bout of pulmonary tuberculosis, which lead to his treatment in Germany. He built the business up with the help of increasing government support for sanatorium treatment.

He continued to run the Mundesley sanatorium until after the Second World War, he chaired numerous TB-related committees at local and national level, including the Joint Tuberculosis Council of Great Britain, and wrote extensively on aspects of TB cause and cure.

Mundesley TB Sanatorium

Leslie William Green (6 February 1875—31 August 1908) contracted tuberculosis and died at the sanatorium. He was an English architect. Best known for his design of iconic stations constructed on the London Underground railway system in central London during the first decade of the 20th century, with distinctive ox-blood red tiled façade including pillars and semi-circular first-floor windows, and patterned tiled interiors.

Although a sanatorium based on ‘fresh air and rest’ was not a new concept in the treatment of TB, new techniques in treating the disease were pioneered at Mundesley sanatorium. In 1910, Dr Claude Lillingstone (1881-1960), joined Mundesley sanatorium. He had studied medicine at Cambridge, where he was at Pembroke College, and St. Mary’s Hospital. Graduating in medicine in 1906, he proceeded M.D. in 1919. Not long after holding the post of resident obstetrical officer at his teaching hospital, he developed pulmonary tuberculosis and was treated in a sanatorium in Norway, where an artificial pneumothorax was induced.

English: Photomicrograph of a sputum sample co...

English: Photomicrograph of a sputum sample containing Mycobacterium tuberculosis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Lillingston returned to England he became an exponent of the method (improving the apparatus available at the time), and held appointments at the Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Joint sanatorium and at the Mundesley sanatorium. It was when Dr Claude Lillingstone became a physician at Mundesley, that he introduced the practice of artificial pneumothorax as a treatment for tuberculosis, having undergone the treatment himself in Norway, he performed the first artificial pneumothorax operation in England.

His health, however, gave rise to some anxiety, and he decided to live abroad and earn what he could by writing articles and reviews for medical journals. For many years he contributed annotations to this journal, commenting on various aspects of the Scandinavian medical scene. He was also the author of a novel which had euthanasia as its theme. For a time he lived in Paris, working for the League of Red Cross Societies, but he returned to Norway before the second world war, and was there during the German occupation. Under the provisions of the 1911 National Insurance Act, Mundesley sanatorium continued to increase viability as business.

In August, 1914, Burton-Fanning was called up for service as major R.A.M.C.T. in the 1st Eastern General Hospital at Cambridge. Subsequently, when No. 55 General Hospital was organised at Cambridge he went out with it to France, to Ambleleuse, as officer in charge of the medical division, being promoted lieutenant-colonel.

In 1920, Marks Gertler, a british painter (1891 – 1939) was diagnosed with tuberculosis, which forced him to enter Mundesley sanatorium on a number of occasions during 1925, 1929 and 1936.

Dr. Geoffrey Lucas (1875-1929) became a resident physician at Mundesley sanatorium in 1921. He received his medical education at Cambridge and St. George’s Hospital. He obtained the diploma L.S.A. in 1903, and graduated M.D.Durh. in 1919. After landing the appointments of assistant and senior house-physician at the Westminster Hospital he served with the Orient Steam Navigation Company from 1904 to 1906. He then started to practise in Ringwood, became medical officer of health there, and developed an interest in tuberculosis, which led him to being associated as physician with the Nordrach sanatorium, 1909 to 1921, with the exception of the war period.

Mundesley TB Sanatorium

From 1916 to 1917 he was physician to the first Scottish General Hospital, and subsequently consulting physician for diseases of the clhest to the North-East Scottish Command. He was assistant to the professor of medicine at the University of Aberdeen in 1917-18, and, holding a commission in the R.A.M.C., was for a time at No. 11 Stationary Hospital, B.E.F.

During 1923 a large extension was built on right south east corner of the wooden building, and a smaller single storey extension on the east side.

Sir Gordon Richards (5 May 1904 – 10 November 1986) was admitted into the sanatorium in May 1926, making a full recovery by December. He was an English jockey and became the British flat racing Champion Jockey 26 times and often being considered the world’s greatest ever jockey. Today he remains the only jockey to have been knighted. Whilst at the sanatorium he met a gentleman by the name of Bill Rowell, a fellow patient. Rowell was older than the young Richards, but he was to have a great influence on his life.

Mundesley TB Sanatorium

Thomas Ownsworth Garland (1903–1993), contracted tuberculosis in 1928 and was confined to the sanatorium, despite almost dying from the disease, he went on to be known as New Zealand’s pioneer in occupational medicine.

On the 30 September 1928 the partnership of medical practitioners changed at the sanatorium, seeing Geoffrey Lucas leaving and, Sidney Vere Pearson and Leonard Whittaker Sharp(1883-1953) being joined by Andrew John Morland. Also in the same year Burton-Fanning become consulting physician at the age of 65, for the Norfolk and Norwich hospital, becoming chairman of the board of management of the hospital in 1931, he was also consulting physician to several district and cottage hospitals in Norfolk.

Mundesley TB Sanatorium

Dr. Andrew John Morland (1896-1957), joined the staff at Mundesley bringing with him knowledge from current tuberculosis treatments from overseas. While at Sidcot School, in Somerset, he developed tuberculosis, for the treatment of which he went to Switzerland. When he had recovered he continued his education at the University of Lausanne. During the first world war he had worked for a time with the Friends Ambulance Unit in France, until his health again gave cause for concern. He then determined to become a doctor and trained at University College Hospital Medical School, graduating M.B., B.S. (with honours and distinction in medicine) in 1923. After holding a resident post at the Brompton Hospital he went back again to Switzerland as medical superintendent of the Palace sanatorium at Montana, before arriving at Mundesley sanatorium. A recognised authority on tuberculosis, he was at one time on the editorial board of Tubercle and was the author of a book entitled ‘Pulmonary Tuberculosis in General Practice’ (1932).

He was a member of the council of the National Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis and of the executive committee of the International Union against Tuberculosis. He became known widely because of his invention of the artificial pneumothorax needle, which bears his name.

Mundesley TB Sanatorium

Morland became great friends with Marks Gertler whilst treating him at the sanatorium and through this was further recommended to D H Lawrence. He travelled to Bandol with his wife to take their winter holiday in the south of France that year and visited Lawrence in mid-January 1930. He recommended that he be treated ‘Ad Astra’ sanatorium at Venice, Lawrence’s treatment wasn’t as Morland would have carried out or had been lead to believe. After one month in the sanatorium, Lawrence checked himself out and died the following day. Morland left Mundesley in 1935, having been appointed physician to the French Hospital.

James Courage, (1903 –1963) contracted tuberculosis in 1931, and was confined until November 1933 in Mundesley sanatorium. It was while he was in Mundesley that his first novel, One House (1933), was published. Only 1100 copies were released by Victor Gollancz and, although it was reviewed in several publications including The Times Literary Supplement, it made little impact and today copies of it are very rare.

Mundesley TB Sanatorium

Dr. George Day became medical superintendent of Mundesley sanatorium in 1935, where he learnt the importance of morale and “spirit” for recovery and developed psychological insights that he put to good use in the Royal Army Medical Corps during the war, helping shell shocked soldiers to recover. At that time the sanatorium could accommodate 80 patients. Treatment cost five guineas a week or six or seven guineas for rooms of a higher quality.

This short film was recorded by Day.


Day developed a therapeutic overhaul known locally as a ‘Mundesley Special’.

Tuberculosis creates cavities visible in x-ray...

Tuberculosis creates cavities visible in x-rays like this one in the patient’s right upper lobe. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“A therapeutic overhaul is the reverse of the ordinary physical examination in that one is seeking good rather than evil things, glad tidings and not bad news. Every system is impressively examined and gets an honourable mention whenever possible. “Your kidneys are behaving like perfect little gentlemen”, “That’s a good strong heart you’ve got. It will last out your time”, “Your x-rays showed a flawless pair of lungs, what’s more, they work” “Your low ESR rules out any progressive active disease process anywhere”

This was a very effective way of finding out the root of lots of anxieties and often resulted in lots of ‘symptoms’ evaporating.

During 1938 Dr (Alice) Josephine Mary Taylor Barnes (1912–1999) (made Dame in 1974), joined the sanatorium to assist Pearson, pioneer of the artificial pneumothorax. She worked in the sanatorium for two months, in Pathology and also taking x-rays. She lived on site, and like the others, was ‘on call’ whilst not at work. She received no monetary payment, but board and lodgings was provided for free.

During World War II, Mundesley sanatorium temporarily moved to Cheshire, only returning to Gimingham after hostilities had ceased. The golf course was also reduced to nine holes when land was required for wartime farming, which was very important in that era.

In the late 1940’s, huge advancements regarding the treatment of tuberculosis and a potential cure were made. After 1943, when Albert Schatz, then a graduate student at Rutgers University, discovered streptomycin, an antibiotic and the first cure for tuberculosis, sanatoria began to close.

Mundesley TB Sanatorium

By the fifties, convalescent treatment for the disease was deemed unnecessary and in 1957 the sanatorium was officially adopted by the National Health Service, with the backing of the East Anglian Regional Hospital Board.

When Mundesley Hospital became a convalescence and rehabilitation unit in 1960 Day continued as medical director. He made it his aim to enable patients to discover, by increasing activity, how well they could become so that they went home full of confidence founded on actual experience. The philosophy of his team was to help people stop being patients, and he strongly opposed keeping them in uncertainty and in the role of patient by unnecessary follow up or exhortations to be careful. He retired in 1965.

25 July 1973 saw the erection of remedial treatment block. The physiotherapy department was built in 1975, followed by the rehabilitation unit in 1977 and the construction of a sewerage pumping station in 1979. In the early 1980s, permission was granted for the construction of a physiotherapy unit to the west of the original building.

Mundesley TB Sanatorium

At the time of its closure in 1992 it was in used as a rehabilitation unit with facilities including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, remedial gymnastics and speech therapy.

After falling into disrepair, the Mundesley Sanatorium was purchased by Adapt Ltd and underwent a huge refurbishment in 1997 and was re-opened as the ‘Diana Princess of Wales Treatment Centre for Drug and Alcohol Problems’. Adapt Ltd. engaged Richard Lyon and Associates to carry out a feasibility scheme, prior to purchase of this site, for conversion to form a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre. After a successful bid for the site, and after an extensive regional fund raising campaign, the project proceeded. It took around £1 million and 34 weeks to refurbish this site.

Mundesley TB Sanatorium

Due to a lack of funding however, administrators were called in during summer 2008 and the clinic was closed in 2009. Receivers had to find new places for the 19 patients being treated there. The centre was bought late that year by homeopathic practitioner Eveline Herzer but did not reopen and went back on the market the following summer with a £1.3m guide price.

The old hospital remains standing in the original site at Gimingham, due to its current status as a Grade II listed building.

Mundesley TB Sanatorium

Current Situation & Summary

The council have outlined the ways in which the site can be changed and how it must not change. The mature woodland and ‘parkland setting’ must be retained. The restoration of the pavilion has been labelled as desirable. The two storey brick building on site may be converted to residential or holiday flats, as it is deemed too large for a single residence. The brick ‘dormitory style’ building that is linked to the main hospital  via a passage over the road, is the most visible of all. This building is most suited an institutional use, alternative uses will be considered. The bridge which provides passage can be removed if necessary. The original timber building constructed in 1899 is undoubtedly the most attractive and interesting part of the hospital.

The building can be seen through the foreground trees as an imposing white building from the distance. At close range it presents a charming ‘colonial-style’ building set in attractive surroundings. It would be difficult to extend this building without detracting from its existing character. It should therefore be retained in its current form, although restoration work may be required. It is essential that a viable use is found if the structure, which is primarily of wood, is not to deteriorate rapidly. It is recommended that the physiotherapy block is to be demolished as it is undesirable in comparison the the main hospital. It is also suggested that within the existing ‘footprint’ a building in sympathetic design could be constructed.

The timber buildings in the woodland behind the hospital can be demolished, this includes the ‘convalescent chalets’. The bungalows on site are to be used for permanent or holiday accommodation, with vehicular access also given.

Updated 22/08/2018

The former Mundesley tuberculosis hospital is now fully operational and called the “The Southern Hill Hospital”. Southern Hill Hospital provides assessment, care and treatment to people who are experiencing their first episode of mental health symptoms, and to those experiencing long term and enduring mental illness, supporting them in their journey to recovery. Details available here.

Image Gallery

Mundesley TB Hospital Image Gallery


National & Norwich Records Office

James Fanning, Great Grandson of Dr William Joseph Fanning 2014


  1. Pingback:Mundesley TB Hospital

  2. I did a university paper on Mundesley and my father was a former patient. I was told all the archives were lost. Is this not the case? I would be grateful if I could contact the author of this report. Dr. Kate Baker.

    • Kate, Hi

      There are very few records available at the Norfolk Records Office (NRO), mainly we could only see the following

      File of receipted bills to Sanatorium Library account H4/3 1949-1957
      Notes by Dr. George Day on the murals in the main lounge and billiard room of the Sanatorium H4/5 [?1970s]
      File of correspondence, accounts and subscription list re presentation to Dr. Evan C. Wynne Edwards and Dr. G. H. Day on the dissolution of their partnership H4/6 1957

      We were also unable to find authoritative record holdings in any other record office in the UK. Would be interested in reading your paper.

      Kind regards,


  3. Fascinating…. my mum was an inpatient convalescing after having an operation at the Norwich & Norwich Hospital….. possibly during the late 1960’s as I was a child visiting her with my sister and foster parents.

  4. Hi, I am part of a paranormal investigator team and would like to gain access to this building, can anyone tell me who I would need to contact please.
    We are a serious group and very respectful of the property we investigate.
    Kind regards

  5. My grandfather was a patient during the 1920’s and we would be interested in finding out what year. Are there any patient records left remaining? He had TB of the hip and he told stories of how he recalled brushing snow off his bed after being outdoors for fresh air treatment.

  6. My parents met here in 1952. My father had been diagnosed with TB and my mother was a nurse at ‘The San’. They fell in love and once my Dad was better moved to Manchester. Both lived into their seventies. My wife and I visited the place in 2012….it was quite remarkable to be in a place that had not only saved my old man’s life, but brought my parents together…(Oh…and my mother was sacked from there for cohabiting with a patient after they’d got married !!)

  7. Dr William Joseph Fanning , who established the sanitorium in 1899 together with his first cousin Dr F.W. Burton-Fanning , is my great grandfather. During a recent sort out of old family documents , letters , etc , I came across several photos of the sanatorium just after it opened. I can scan and email if anyone is interested.

    • My father was treated for TB at Holt Sanitarium after returning from RAF service in the Middle East. I believe he stayed at Holt periodically from 1948 to 1954. He is 87 yrs old, lives in an Aged Care Home in Sydney, Australia & has recently lost his wife of 63 yrs. He is in the early stages of dementia. On looking through some photo albums there were a couple of photos from those years, which prompted some conversation – he was reluctant to talk about his time there when we were young. (A legacy of that time was that we were not allowed to wear dressing gowns to watch TV – they were not allowed outside of our bedrooms!) I am interested in learning more, in part to help Dad talk about this time if he wishes. Are you able to direct me to further information please? Thank you, Kathryn

  8. My Mom was a patient at the hospital in the late 40’s or early 50’s. She had TB in her lung and dr day removed her Lung. She’s still alive today and is 88 years old. My Family holiday in Mundesley annually feeling attached to the place…

    • Hi ,my Mum was at Mundsley from 1952 to 1957 and she had a lung removed. She is still alive ,is 84 lives in Scotland and is visiting me on Marco Island Florida as I write. We would love to hear more. Best , GP. Her name then was Margaret May Wheatley. Also I met a lady here 10yrs ago whose mum was a matron there. .

      • Hi Barbara,

        Can you contact me via the Contact page on this site please? Would be great to see these photos.



  9. Pingback:Hospital Compare Uk | My Health

  10. hi,
    i’m a mental health nurse who worked at the “diana” when it was a drug and alcohol treatment centre. I was actually the last nurse who nursed the last patient before it closed. I worked there for three and a half years until it closed and as agency staff on and off for probably two years before that. I loved working there and have very happy memories f my time there.

  11. I have heard that during world war 2 there were tunnels running from the hospital to the gun emplacements at Mundesley and that some of the tunnels still have old equipment left in them. I believe the tunnels were built to ferry any injured men to the hospital from the emplacements. Would love to know if this is true. Thank you

    • Hi Patricia. I’ve heard the same reports from several people. I’ve also heard that the tunnels are connected to what used to be the Hotel Continental and developed when it was taken over in the war. I have contact details to follow this up in the summer so I’ll post what I find.

      Kind regards,


  12. My mother Alicia Tannam lived on the Trunch Rd in Newlands and told me the “san” had its own poultry farm on the Gimingham Mundesley Rd and own market garden.
    She ran a boarding house and told me families visiting patients used to stay with her.
    She also said that anyone working at the hospital had to have had TB and recovered from it-true or not I don’t know.
    I remember Doc Day, his wife and son.

  13. My father Richard (Dick) Measures talked of being there in the 1930’s and sleeping out on the veranda. Thank you for this page.

  14. I came across one of the revolving huts used in the grounds of the hospital for TB patients, at Walcott House. and then more recently at Bolwick Hall.

  15. Norman Marchington. 15 2 1925
    I was at the Mundesley in 1944 when it was the HQ, 213 Infantry Brigade. The grounds were used for training of the men on assault courses.

  16. Hi David Baker,
    MY grandfather was a patient at Mundesley in 1913 until 1915.
    I am shortly producing a document about his life and would really appreciate
    being able to reproduce an early photo of the sanatorium.
    Can you help me?

  17. My Grandmother passed away aged 24 years, in 1919.
    I cannot find any Death or Burial Notices any where, in
    All I know was she passed away from Tuberculosis, so I
    thought it might be a “Shot in the Dark,” to see if she
    might have been sent to Mundesley Sanatorium, to recover.
    Are there any Patient, Death Records or where patients
    were buried, existing anywhere. I find it impossible to
    believe some Records, just don’t exist.
    Florence Kate Paterson – Albery
    Birth: 1897

    10 Hambrook Road, Anns Hill U.D.
    Alderstoke, Hampshire. Surrey N.E. England
    Passed Away 1919 Age: 24 years

    10 Hambrook Road Anns Hill U.D. Surrey N.E. England
    SPOUSE Florence Kate’s Florence Kate’s
    Edward Bucklitsch Paterson Father —————- Mother

    Greenock. Renfrew. Scotland Edmund Henrietta

    Birth: 12th Oct. 1890 Albery Albery Ne: Albray
    Marriage: 9th Oct. 1915
    Sussex ,England Hampshire, England

    1869 – 1942 1872 – 1944

    • Dar Shirley Bonning, I know, from her telling me, that my mother was a patient in Mundsley in late 1930’s. I too would like to know if there are any patient records, as I am writing a book about her life and it would be good to know exactly when she was there. I have one photograph of her with a friend she made while there, but it was taken on a trip out towards the end of her time there and I can’t seem to date it. Did you access any records. My email address, which is only used for information regarding this book (not the one posted below which i understand will not be published)
      I would love to hear from you if you have any information as to where I could access these records.

  18. I was a patient from feb 1998 to sept 1998
    I was there for heroin addiction loved the place I didn’t want to leave the staff were amazing. And the house was mesmerising
    And yes 20 years on I’m still clean and drug free. with a family life is good.

  19. Does anyone remember a patient named Ricky-he was from Birchington, kent. My Mother often spoke about him. I’m not entirely sure of what years but around 1948.
    Barbara Cook

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