Moorhaven was originally the Plymouth Asylum, built in response to a mental health act of the 1880‘s that required each major county and city to build an asylum for its own patients. J Hine and Odgers submitted the lowest tender of £25,900 and built the main buildings between 1886 and 1889. The hospital, designed to accommodate 203 patients, was formally opened by the mayor of Plymouth, J T Bond, in 1892. It included the main central buildings with the superintendent‘s house, lodges, mortuary, gasworks and various farm and maintenance buildings. It was constructed of brown locally quarried rubble stone with limestone quoins and brick window surrounds.
In 1908, the existing single story wings had an additional level added, this time in cavity brick construction. Moorfields was built in 1932 as about a dozen single storey brick wards with verandahs to enable patients to sleep in the open air. The bakery, later to become the Pottery was built in 1937, the nurses home (now the Mansion) in 1942 and the Marshall clinic (now Moor Park) in 1955 to 1956.
The NHS took over the hospital in 1949. During the course of the next fifty years, considerable improvements in treatment were developed and a number of new buildings were erected for occupational therapy and part time work. A number of these buildings of inferior quality, for example war-time nissen huts which were used initially as a social club, then as industrial workshops, were demolished during the course of developing Moorhaven Village. The number of patients reached a maximum of over 720 in the 1950‘s with over 400 full-time and part-time staff, including seven full time ground staff. During this period several high stone walls were removed, and the gardens which had previously separated male and female patients were integrated to create the formal gardens of today.
During the 1980‘s, a decision was taken on a national basis to dispose of most asylums. An early proposal to transform Moorhaven into a large settlement of about 350 homes with a new road link to the B3213 was rejected by Dartmoor National Park planners. The hospital was put out to tender in December 1993. The successful bidders, Jonathan Mathys and Andrea Peacock, were responsible for developing the village that we know today, which retains the high quality and environment of the original Victorian concept. The development took four years and was completed in 1998.