Lennox Castle reclaimed by nature: The shameful history of Scotland's formerly biggest mental institution

Lennox Castle Hospital closed in 2002 before it was gutted following a fire in 2008 and has been left to ruin since
Abandoned Lennox Castle in East Dunbartonshire is enveloped by autumnal colour.  (Katielee Arrowsmith SWNS)Abandoned Lennox Castle in East Dunbartonshire is enveloped by autumnal colour.  (Katielee Arrowsmith SWNS)
Abandoned Lennox Castle in East Dunbartonshire is enveloped by autumnal colour. (Katielee Arrowsmith SWNS)

Eerie images have been shared of a spooky-looking UK castle with a dark past. Lennox Castle near Glasgow has been abandoned for many years and has now been reclaimed by nature as autumnal colours sweep over its grounds.

Lennox Castle, built in the 1830s, was turned into a hospital for people with learning difficulties in 1927 - but was plagued with reports of abuse until its closure. It was Scotland's 'largest institution for people with learning disabilities' up until as recently as 20 years ago - but now it endures a shameful legacy.

By the 1980s a study by the British Medical Journal found a quarter of residents were dangerously underweight and malnourished. Before this, questions began to be raised in the 1960s over the suitability of institutional care for people with learning difficulties - including those at Lennox Castle.

Abandoned Lennox Castle in East Dunbartonshire enveloped by autumnal colour. (Katielee Arrowsmith SWNS)Abandoned Lennox Castle in East Dunbartonshire enveloped by autumnal colour. (Katielee Arrowsmith SWNS)
Abandoned Lennox Castle in East Dunbartonshire enveloped by autumnal colour. (Katielee Arrowsmith SWNS)

The castle in Lennoxtown, East Dunbartonshire, was once home to John Lennox Kincaid, the last male heir of the Kincaids. A century later, long after John's death, the castle reopened in 1936, this time as Lennox Castle Hospital.

Newly acquired drone images show the castle looks far from kept and it surrounding grounds have now led to an overgrown site. The hospital housed up to 1,200 patients, but was said to be understaffed.

Research by Glasgow Caledonian University found that one patient was kept in the hospital for 62 years from 1938 to 2000.

According to the BBC, the hospital's medical director, Alasdair Sim, said in 1986 he had "never worked in a worse pit".

One patient, Hughie McIntyre said he spent 16 years at the hospital but never knew why.

Hughie said: "I remembered my life in there. I was tortured: beaten, kicked, heavily punched and I had severe injuries. I get nightmares thinking about it."

The connecting road no longer takes you all the way to the castle any more. It is a mile walk uphill, past Celtic FC's training ground into a high-walled driveway.

In 2002, the hospital was closed, with patients being reintroduced into their communities, and many of the hospital buildings were demolished. Today, the castle lies abandoned.

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