The Borough of Sunderland decided to take advantage of good rail service and the scenic view of the North Sea and build a psychiatric facility in Ryhope in between 1893 and 1895. Sunderland Borough Asylum also known as Sunderland Lunatic Asylum was designed by noted asylum architect G.T. Hine.
There are six wards on either side of a combined chapel and recreation hall along with the usual services. An isolation hospital and infirmary block were added in 1902. In the 1930's an admissions hospital and wartime Emergency Medical Service Huts were constructed nearby. These later became the Ryhope General Hospital, which still operates to this day. The rest of the site became known as Cherry Knowle Hospital when it was acquired by the National Health Service in 1948.
As community care replaced the long term stay facilities, the original asylum eventually closed in 1998. However, other satellite buildings were retained for use by mental health organizations. After being abandoned for 13 years or so, plans are in the works to demolish the Laurels block and build up to 770 new homes to be completed by the end of the year.
In recent years, Cherry Knowle Hospital has become a magnet for ghost hunters despite warnings issued by police that people were putting their lives at risk by breaking into the crumbling buildings and possibly being exposed to asbestos. It gained notoriety after a local publication called the Sunderland Echo described it as the "most haunted hospital" in the UK. Ever since, paranormal enthusiasts and urban explorers have broken in to the derelict block numerous times. This doesn't include visits from the vandals and underage drinkers.
Cherry Knowle Hospital is supposedly haunted. However, I was unable to find many ghost stories related to it other than a Quija Board incident where the pointer allegedly spun on its own. This asylum allegedly partook in patient abuse and the overall appearance is enough to fuel rumors of its haunted status. Whether it actually is or not, I don't know. In the process of constructing the new homes, original architectural features such as foundation stones and doorways will be retained when possible. We will one day know if there is any truth to its title of "The Most Haunted Hospital in the UK".