On the edge of sanity: A visit to the (abandoned) Rosslynlee Mental Hospital

I have taken a week off from work to use up my holiday entitlement, but because of my continued COVID19 isolation, I am staying near the safety of my rural cottage. But as luck would have it, my cottage is well-positioned for exploring loads of great and interesting places. Case in point: Today was spent exploring the abandoned Rosslynlee Mental Hospital about four miles from home.

The hospital opened in 1874 as the Midlothian and Peebles Asylum and was expanded in 1898. After it joined the NHS in 1948 it became known as the Rosslyn Mental Hospital, later dropping the word “mental”. Then, in the 1960s and 70s, mental health care moved from institutionalised environments to a community care approach, leading to the Care in the Community policy in the 1980s. That meant the slow decline of the 500-bed facility, which was eventually made redundant by a newer, vastly smaller, mixed-purpose facility.

The building ceased its life as a mental health facility in early 2011. As of February 2019, the site has received (rightly contested) permission to redevelop the building and lands as residential units. However, construction has yet to begin.

I arrived at the site to find the building surrounded by fencing, with grease on much of the fence to deter people from climbing over it. Whilst I might have been tempted to enter the buildings if there hadn’t been a fence (I could see opened access areas), I was not willing to climb a fence for access.

I was slightly disappointed to not have the chance to see inside of the building, but I was also aware of several things: (1) now is not the time to get injured and have to attend A&E; (2) the building contains asbestos and the crumbling interiors mean it is more likely to be circulating in the air; and (3) getting arrested for breaking and entering might not look good on a future citizenship application.

As for me and my adventure partner, we were incredibly happy with exploring the outside of the building. I especially liked the broken windowpanes and watching the curtains and blinds inside of the building swaying with the wind.

Now, I don’t generally get into the idea of “haunted” spaces and such, but there was a moment that kind of spooked me. (I can explain it away, I think.) After eating a picnic lunch, we were rummaging through a little pile of rubble that had old linoleum tiles, broken crockery, and other such junk. As I went to grab my phone from my pocket, we heard what sounded like a muffled woman’s voice. It sounded like it was coming from a nearby 1960s extension with a hole in the wall.

At that moment we both turned to look for the source of the sound, but there was nothing to be seen. I then finished fishing out my phone and noticed that it had just gone 2 pm. Well, I have an automatic alarm on my phone for 2 pm that is a weird little song. So, I think that it must have gone off just as I reached into my pocket and I accidentally turned it off at that moment. And that means that I wasn’t going crazy, I was merely on the edge of sanity. Of course, maybe the spirits just wanted us to think it was a coincidence…

On the return walk, we made a short detour to investigate an interesting obelisk at the top of a small hill in the middle of a field. The 11.5-foot memorial commemorates Sophia Inglis and reads as follows:

In remembrance of Sophia Inglis
eldest daughter of Archibald Inglis
a disconsolate sister caused this to be cut
upon a native stone at Auchindinny
there angel like she spent her infancy.

Man that is born of a woman
is of few days and full of trouble
cometh forth as a flower and is cut down,
fleeth also as a shadow and continueth not.

The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away,
blessed be the name of the Lord.

Sophia Inglis Born 17th day of February 1741
Departed this life 21st day of April 1775.

Muse, at that name thy sacred sorrows shed,
Those tears eternal that embalm the dead
Call round her tomb each object of desire,
Each purer frame informed with purer fire
Bid her be all that cheers or softens life,
The tender sister, daughter, friend and wife
Bid her be all that makes mankind adore,
Recall her memory and be vain no more.

I have a few more days of holiday before I return to the office on the 1st of October. I will use that time for another adventure or two, catching up on some chores around the cottage, and continuing my work on rebuilding Just Frances. So, stay tuned for more posts – new and old.

In the meantime, here are some photos of the day’s adventure for Mum and anyone else who happens by my little blog.

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