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Deconsecrated church turned into a swimming pool in London
Posted on 16/03/2020

CultureUnited Kingdom

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A deconsecrated church has been converted into a gym and pool in the Redbridge district in London. The chapel of a former psychiatric hospital may not seem like the most relaxing place to have a swim on a Sunday morning, but when floating under the carved stone pillars and wooden arches, you tend to forget where you are.

A treat for Londoners

A treat for Londoners
© Iakov Kalinin/123RF

Surrounded by lush vegetation and woods, this converted chapel is truly evocative. Would you like to swim under a domed ceiling? Even better, Virgin Active is right next door to Repton Park, one of London's most famous parks.

Large stained glass windows overlook the 25-metre long swimming pool - where the altar was supposed to be, there is now a Jacuzzi, and the old confessional box has been turned into a Turkish bath.

Let's take a step back...

Let's take a step back...
© sofiazhuravets / 123RF

On the edge of Repton Park, Middlesex County built the sumptuous Claybury Psychiatric Hospital in 1888-93, which has a capacity of 2,500 residents. At the same time, Claybury House was expanded and turned into a private asylum. By the 1930's, Claybury Hospital had become world famous for its treatment of mental illness and its capacity had increased to 4,000 people - it then had an operating theatre, a radio retransmission system, a bank and a post office.

Claybury continued to be used as a psychiatric hospital until 1997. Property developer Crest Nicholson then converted the hospital into apartments, and Claybury Hall, which had recently been the seat of the Waltham Forest health authority, was also restored and converted into apartments. Today, the wellness centre occupies the restored Great Hall of the hospital, with the swimming pool in the chapel. Most of the hospital grounds have become part of Claybury Woods and Park, which is now property of the London Borough of Redbridge.