top of page

'British Medical Journal'

16 September, 1972

The pictures below show 'Greenwoods' - once Sir Geoffrey Nightingale's home, and later a treatment facility for those with "severe and enduring mental health problems and associated behavioural problems". Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd was treated here between 1983 and 1984, and it remained open into the 2010s. After a period of steady deterioration it was subject to repeated arson attacks and little now remains. 

The following brief biography was written to accompany a copy of Sir Geoffrey Nightingale's history of the hospital (accessible from the home page)

A man born into great privilege, Geoffrey Slingsby Nightingale was the hospital's medical superintendent between 1946 and 1969, and in 1953 became the 15th Baronet Nightingale (one of the oldest active baronetcies in England). In addition to this slim volume on the hospital, he also authored, somewhat incongruously, a couple of slim books on dinghies. 

Outside of professional success, he seems to have experienced significant upheaval in his personal life. He fought in World War II (in which his brother Roger died) and was married to Mary Madeleine Doyle (d.1970), who spent much of their married life receiving treatment in another psychiatric hospital. In his time at Warley, Sir Geoffrey lived in "Greenwoods" - a large house behind the water tower - along with his son Jeremy, a servant named Albert, and, in their final years, a dog called Hera - a Great Dane who was accidentally shot and killed on a friend's farm shortly after Sir Geoffrey retired. In 1970, he published a short history of Gents Farm in South Weald, so presumably this is the house to which he moved after Greenwoods (and which he took great pleasure in restoring). 


Their son Jeremy (1945-1987) was, according to the memoir of his close friend Glyn Jones, a deeply-troubled, though much-loved, alcoholic, who worked as a solicitor until his untimely death. Jeremy's sexuality and Catholicism (insisted upon by his mother) apparently proved problematic for Sir Geoffrey, who spent much of his free time driving around the Essex countryside in his Jaguar or listening to classical music. Jeremy was also adopted - and so did not inherit his father's title, the baronetcy passing instead to a cousin.


Jeremy lived, for some time, in Hackney, but reportedly died penniless, and is now an ever-receding spectre - retrievable only through a dead actor's anecdotes and the arcane blogposts of a mysterious German with schizophrenia (precise remembrances interspersed with visions of four hundred cats lurking in the trees around "Greenwoods").

bottom of page