St James' Park

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HCC Site ID: 1727 Parish: Milton Ward Portsmouth
Designations: Buildings EH Grade II Area: 30.35 ha in 1879; 36.02 ha in 1893
Access: Public Access to Hospital Ownership: Portsmouth Healthcare NHS Trust

Location and Site

St. James’ Hospital (Portsmouth Lunatic Asylum; Borough of Portsmouth Mental Hospital; Portsmouth City Mental Hospital) site is in Milton in the south-east corner of Portsea Island. Originally built in an isolated rural area, it is bounded by Langstone Harbour to the east and now surrounded by residential estates on the other three sides. The main entrance is from Locksway Road (formerly Asylum Road), which forms the southern boundary.

Historic Development

St James’ opened in 1879 as the Portsmouth Lunatic Asylum. It was built on 75 acres (30.35 ha.) of Milton Common and designed by George Rake, a local Portsmouth architect, in the corridor-pavilion style. The main approach was from the south along an avenue of trees, with a cricket ground and pavilion to the left and open land to the right. Trees also bounded much of the grounds. Formal gardens were laid out with walks to the east and west of the asylum buildings, with a long glasshouse facing south on the left (OS 2nd ed 25″ 1898). The grounds were left in a rough state as it was intended that the laying out and management would be done by the patients themselves as part of their occupational therapy and rehabilitation; self-sufficiency was also an aim and over the years the site came to include a home farm, orchards, cornfields and a piggery. As the asylum expanded, a further 14 acres of land were bought in 1893, and more land to the east from 1910 onwards. The asylum underwent several name changes, becoming the Borough of Portsmouth Mental Hospital in 1914, the Portsmouth City Mental Hospital in 1926, and finally St James’ Hospital in 1937. By 1932 (OS 4th ed. 25″) six villas for patients and an isolation hospital had been built to the east and north-east of the main building, as well as further glasshouses north of the cricket field. The area was becoming more built-up with rows of mainly terraced houses to the west and south of the grounds. By 1995 changes were being planned as a result of the then Government’s Strategy of ‘Care in the Community’: under the Portsmouth City Local Plan (adopted in 1995) these included housing development on the playing fields to the north of the hospital, proposals to retain and re-use the main building if necessary, and new open space in the south-west of the site. The Portsmouth Society and St.James’ Park Trust campaigned vigorously to retain the open space south of the hospital along with the many mature trees subject, and in 2001, following a public enquiry, about 1.75 ha. of land was registered as Portsmouth’s first Town Green.

Current Description

Today, the main and outlying buildings support a range of clinical and non-clinical services run by Portsmouth NHS Trust. The immediate areas to the north, south and west of the site are residential, with a small housing development in the south-east, bordering Locksway Road and playing fields to the east. The area in front of the hospital remains largely undeveloped and peaceful: a fine selection of mature trees line The Driveway, the main approach, and the cricket pitch to the left, with many more on the recently-designated Town Green (St. James’ Green) on the right. Among these can be seen horse chestnut, ginkgo, red oak (Quercus rubra), holm oak (Q. ilex), Monterey cypress and the Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides).


A late nineteenth-century asylum, now belonging to the NHS, originally in extensive grounds, with formal and kitchen gardens, of which little trace remains today. Still of note are the fine mature trees around the site, particularly to the south of the building. A small open space to the south-west of the hospital was registered as Portsmouth’s first Town Green.

Information: May 2013


OS Maps:
1st ed. 25″ 1868-81
2nd ed. 25″ 1898
3rd ed. 25″ 1909
4th ed. 25″ 1932
Mastermap 1:4500 2012 (Aug 04) 

Our address

Portsmouth Public Access to hospital Click for Disclaimer & copyright
50.796712911337075, -1.04994535446167

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