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The Legacy of the Crichton Estate, Dumfries

The Legacy of the Crichton Estate, Dumfries1

In 1834, following a bequest from the late Dr James Crichton, who had made a fortune trading with the East India Company, his wife Elizabeth, set about building a legacy. Elizabeth built Crichton Hall in the magnificent 100-acre estate, to serve as a psychiatric hospital. Elizabeth had intended to build a university also but this failed due to lack of support from the establishment at the time. Though ironically, there is a flourishing educational hub on the estate today.

Crichton Royal Hospital, as it became known, developed over the next 100 years into the outstanding conservation estate we see today. The visible phases of development tell the story of the development of care of psychiatric patients from a walled asylum to smaller pavilion buildings providing a more homely feel.

The magnificent, gothic cathedral style Crichton Memorial Church, built to commemorate its founders was completed in 1897. The last major development of the original hospital was the imposing art deco Easterbrook Hall, completed in 1938. This was conceived as the main therapeutic and recreational building with a wide range of facilities ranging from operating theatre through to library, refectory, auditorium, gym, cinema, swimming pool and squash courts.

Throughout the development of the hospital, it was renowned for the quality and forwarding looking nature of its healthcare, the quality of the buildings and the100 acre landscaped parkland and gardens in which it is set. The hospital is a shining example of Victorian /Edwardian philanthropic approach to wellbeing.

By the 1980s, advances in medicine and care meant that patient numbers dwindled and the hospital gradually closed, marking the end of large Victorian hospitals not just in Dumfries but all over the country.

In 1995, Dumfries and Galloway Council bought most of the estate with a view to protecting it for the nation and turning it to productive new uses to benefit the local community.

Today, the estate thrives and offers a whole mix of community and business uses from weddings at The Crichton Church, Easterbrook Hall, the University Campus, Business Park, conference and events centre and the Aston Hotel.

The Aston Hotel Dumfries is located 14 miles from Lockebie, Gretna Green 26 miles, Carlisle 34 miles, Penrith 34 miles, Glasgow Airport 87 miles, Glasgow City 78 miles, Stranraer 68 miles and 90 miles from Newcastle Upon Tyne.

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