December 19, 2015 Joe Mander

Secrets of Severalls – Documentary Production Starts

Production has started on a new documentary for Beyond the Point, focusing on the history of an abandoned psychiatric asylum turned hospital in Essex. Being commissioned by Beyond the Point (BTP), I will be taking overall charge of the project, with Liam Heatherson responsible of still photography.

Corridor FilmingGaining exclusive access to film inside the former psychiatric hospital, the NHS has refused permission for many broadcasters to enter and film at the site, even including The Discovery Channel, making our documentary the only one to be the filmed of the site. Most likely ever, as the majority of the site is set for demolition soon. ‘Secrets of Severalls’ will explore what life was like to live and work at the once busy hospital as well as offering a rare glimpse into what the site is like now. We are working with Airbourne Imagery, a small business providing a variety of high quality drone photography/filming packages, who have provided us with various drone shots of the derelict hospital. ITV News has also provided us with helicopter footage of Severalls.

Severalls Hospital was once a bustling community in Colchester, build to house up to 2,000 mentally ill patients. The site opened in 1913 and continued to provide psychiatric care for the best part of a century. Although the complex was constructed as an asylum, Severalls acted as a self-sufficient village, with its own grand dance hall, farms, villas, a church, laundry and kitchen facilities and much more. A change in attitude to the mentally ill in the later 20th century saw patients’ being reintroduced into the community as this was thought to be a more effective treatment, therefore seeing asylums starting to close and Severalls closed its doors in 1997, currently left to the elements in a state of decay.

The documentary will feature a number of voices providing accounts of life at the site; including former staff members and nurses who trained at the site. Filming of these interviews will commence in the New Year. The documentary ‘Secrets of Severalls’ is set for release in mid-2016. Find out more over at Beyond the Point.

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Severalls Three Windows

Challet Window

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Paul Drone HDR


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The BTP Boys, Joe Mander, left and Liam Heatherson, right.

Press Feature Links:

Daily Gazette Feature | East Anglian Daily Times | Maldon Standard | Chelmsford Weekley News

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Comments (8)

  1. Suffolk Boy

    Not everyone has access to Discovery Channel so I hope it gets wider distribution such as Ipswich Film Theatre?

  2. David Edwards

    looking forward to the documentary as i had worked there as an apprentice electrician in the eighties.

  3. Dean Onno

    Hello, very much looking forward to seeing this documentary. My father worked there many years. Can you advise now when this coming out, would hate to miss it. We don’t have sky but hope that it will be around elsewhere. All best.

  4. Joan Evans

    Just found this site, I used to work at Severalls as a Trained Nurse in 1981 my husband was in the Army and we were posted to Colchester.
    Is the Documentary still available to watch online ?

  5. Dean Onno

    Hello, have tried searching online for “Secrets of Severally”, as now 2017. Could you post link to its location please. All best Dean

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