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Accessing St Andrew's Hospital records

St Andrew’s Hospital opened in 1814 as the Norfolk County Asylum and was located in Thorpe St Andrew, near Norwich.

In 1920 the hospital became known as the Norfolk Mental Hospital and in 1923 its name was changed to St Andrew’s Hospital.

It retained this name until its closure in April 1998. Some of the buildings have since been converted into homes.

The Norfolk Record Office (NRO) holds the hospital’s archive, which includes an excellent series of patients’ records.

However, access is complicated as the records are subject to different restrictions:

  • Administrative records are closed for 30 years after the last date in the file.
  • Patient case papers and medical records relating to adults have restricted access for 115 years after the last date in the file. Records relating to children will have longer restrictive periods; please speak to an archivist for details.
  • Patient records not giving medical information, such as admission and discharge registers, have restricted access for 100 years after the last date in the file.

Where access is required within the above periods you need to contact us at the NRO with a written request.

This should be accompanied with proof of death, ordinarily in the form of a copy death certificate. If the death occurred 50 or more years ago access will be granted by us.

If it was less than 50 years ago, you should firstly contact the compliance team at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust for permission to see the records and to make copies.

You will need to provide proof of your relationship to the patient in question, normally by producing copies of birth and marriage certificates.

Once you have obtained a letter of permission, please send it with a covering letter to the NRO.

This permission will only relate to the records of your ancestor, which may be found in several series of records relating to other patients.

If you are able to provide exact details of your ancestor’s stay and the records are simple to locate, then you may be able to look at the records, under supervision, in our searchroom.

This will only be the case if your ancestor’s records can be isolated from those of other patients.

If this is not possible, or an archivist needs to search through the records to locate your ancestor’s details, then a charge will be made to cover staff time – for details please consult our price list

The search fee is payable even if we fail to find details of the person in whom you are interested.

Due to the complicated nature of this particular collection and the fact that it is a restricted class, the search could take between 30 minutes and two hours.

The more specific the information you are able to provide, the shorter our search time may be.

Requests for searches should be made in writing. You should give advance notice of at least one week to view restricted records, but please be aware that staff searches may take up to two weeks to complete.

We will inform you if the search locates appropriate case papers.

You may then wish to make an appointment to see the papers yourself and make notes. We allow searchers to photograph documents themselves, on completion of a declaration form.

If you want a copy, especially if you cannot visit us, we may be able to digitise the appropriate pages and provide print-out copies – a fee is charged for this service.

If the case papers cannot be located, we may need to search through other series of restricted records in which references to your ancestor are interspersed with reference to other patients.

You would not be allowed to see these records. We would make a summary of the relevant information for you as part of the search fee.

Please note that the St Andrew’s Hospital records may contain distressing information and a search should not be undertaken lightly.