For almost three decades, the ashes of former patients of Cane Hill Hospital have laid to rest in an unmarked plot within the grounds of Croydon Cemetery.

Now, the plot, which was known simply as Location 1000, has been marked with a dedicated memorial stone in their memory.

Built on a hilltop overlooking Coulsdon and Farthing Downs, Cane Hill Hospital was officially known as the 3rd Surrey County Pauper Lunatic Asylum.

When it opened in December 1883, it had space for 1,100 patients, but within five years had been extended to accommodate 2,000.

All patients who died at the hospital between 1884 and 1950 were buried within its grounds, and when it finally closed in the late 1980s, records show that approximately 5,000 people were laid to rest there.

In 1981 Croydon council, then called Croydon Corporation, was granted permission to remove the remains as long as the moving or disposal of any remains buried on the land was handled with care, showing consideration for the deceased and their relatives.

Because the exact locations of all the graves on the site were unknown, they were exhumed by hand digging and transferred to Croydon Cemetery for cremation.

The ashes were then scattered in Location 1000 within the Garden of Remembrance.

Councillor Gavin Barwell, cabinet member for community safety and cohesion, said: “For years, we’ve been approached by people wanting to see the final resting place of their relatives and we’ve only been able to point them towards an unmarked mound of earth in Croydon Cemetery’s Garden of Remembrance.

“We didn’t feel it right that such an anonymous setting was all that people could reflect upon when they wanted to remember loved ones.

“We contacted one of our suppliers, who kindly manufactured a bronze memorial plate which we’ve mounted on a blue silk granite base.

"We feel sure that visitors will soon look upon it as a suitable memorial area for those who died at Cane Hill Hospital.”