Insanity and the Lunatic Asylum in the Nineteenth Century by Serena Trowbridge

By Serena Trowbridge

The nineteenth-century asylum used to be the scene of either negative abuses and important developments in remedy and care. The essays during this assortment examine the asylum from the point of view of where itself – its structure, investment and objective – and on the adventure of these who have been despatched there.

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Extra info for Insanity and the Lunatic Asylum in the Nineteenth Century (Perspectives in Economic and Social History)

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Leicester, Liverpool and Manchester were attached to existing infirmaries. 107 Occupying over thirty acres of wooded, landscaped and farm land, Stafford was built for 120 patients of all social classes – this meant that for each inmate there was a quarter of an acre of land; not quite Bakewell’s ideal, but nevertheless a decent space that enabled the sort of patient amusement and employment that Bakewell placed such an emphasis upon and which was as pivotal to Stafford as to other reformed asylums.

Betham briefly mentions suffering from a ‘nervous fever’ after the publication of her ambitious narrative poem The Lay of Marie (1816). 9 ‘This Most Noble of Disorders’ 31 One of the other difficulties in unfolding the circumstances of Betham’s incarceration, quite apart from the disappearance of her autobiographical writings, is the idiosyncrasies of her personality. Her acquaintances regarded her as a charming eccentric long before her confinement. For a more complete picture, I have turned to various manuscript letters, chiefly those passing between the aristocratic Bedingfeld and Jerningham families and those filed by the Royal Literary Fund, a benevolent establishment that supplied charitable funds to deserving applicants.

74 He did not witness the 1845 County Asylums Act – which rested on the 1808 sentiments and compelled County lunacy provision – or the 1851 opening of another facility in Middlesex for 1250 inmates. 75 It was around this time that dissenting minister Thomas Mulock – son of a well-to-do Dublin family, ex-private secretary to Prime Minister George Canning , and a previously-imprisoned debtor – found himself at loggerheads with Staffordshire Asylum. 77 [T]he great and the wise … Have coop’d me up close in Stafford Asylum, But if there in vile durance with mad men I moulder 20 Insanity and the Lunatic Asylum in the Nineteenth Century The mind’s unquenched sparle will in secrecy smoulder Though a captive unheeded unhonoured I be My soul knows no bondage – my spirit is free, E’en the gloom of a Madhouse religion can brighten And Despondency’s load in a moment can lighten…78 For Mulock, life inside a large county asylum was monotonous, lacking individuality and merely to be endured.

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