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PENNYVILLE ASYLUM: THE TRUE STORY

Pennyville Psychiatric Hospital formerly known as Pennyville Retreat was a privately run institute in East Sussex.

During its time PENNYVILLE housed the mentally disturbed and criminally insane. The majority of PENNYVILLE's patients were from wealthy families who did not want it to be publicly known that their relatives had been institutionalised

Opened in 1881 by Reginald Chiddingwell. It is believed that Chiddingwell converted his private estate into the Pennyville Retreat for the wealthy and affluent after his daughter Lydia had been declared mentally insane by private physicians. He opened Pennyville as a private business in order to hide his daughter’s demise from the public and for other wealthy families like the Chiddingwells to do the same. Pennyville was passed onto his son Arthur Chiddingwelll in 1921 upon Reginald Chiddingwell’s death.

When Arthur passed away in 1967, Pennyville was placed in the care of Dr Charles Addington. 

In 1983 the hospital was under threat of closure due to lack of funds. In order for the hospital to continue operating, the South Wing was sectioned off and reserved specifically for housing criminals who had been declared criminally insane and unfit to serve their sentences in prison. This meant that Pennyville would receive public funding from the government allowing the hospital to remain open. 

 

Among the South Wing's most notorious inmates were Keith Pembridge (The Watcher) and brothers Matthew and Richard McKinley also know as The Butcher Brothers. 

 

DATE CLOSED: 13rd October 1987. A devastating fire ripped through Pennyville. The fire was started in the medicine room engulfing the entire Hospital killing all of the patients and the majority of the staff who worked there. 

 

After a lengthy investigation it was determined that the fire was caused by arson. There were many conspiracy theories as to who started the fire. 

 

It was originally thought that notorious Butcher Brothers started the fire whilst serving their sentences at Pennyville as their bodies were not found or identified immediately. This sent local police on a week long manhunt to track down the brothers before two bodies were found in the hospitals infirmary and were identified as the brothers. 

 

In the end the fire was blamed on Dr. Addington the chief doctor who also died in the fire, he was under investigation for mistreatment of patients and malpractice. 

Another theory is that the fire was started by the Church after rumours emerged that Dr. Addington was close to a breakthrough on discovering proof of the afterlife through experimenting on patients who had had near death or out of body experiences.