|LOST HOSPITALS OF LONDON|
A brief history of healthcare provision in London
For centuries mental illness was regarded as a spiritual affliction rather than a pathological one. Mentally ill patients were removed from society and 'contained' in asylums. The earliest was Bethlem, a grand building which opened in 1678 (now demolished).
Most 18th century asylums resembled country houses and were privately run. The Asylums Act, 1808, led to marginally more humane treatment.
The Lunatic Asylums Act, 1845, compelled the Counties to build lunatic asylums for their mentally ill paupers. All asylums were required to have a chapel. Most asylums were built on a 'corridor plan', with small secure rooms on either side of a corridor. Some were set out in a radial pattern (panopticon) or as a double-cross. The later asylums were built on an echelon plan - pavilions laid out in a V- or arrowhead shape - with different categories of patients occupying each pavilion. The Claybury Asylum became the standard model. Most were self-sufficient with farms and workshops, the patients providing the manual labour.
Up to 1850, hospitals for the mentally handicapped were privately funded as there was little provision for incurable mental conditions in the Lunacy Act of 1845. Modelled on private houses, they were equipped with workships and a recreation hall, emphasizing training and entertainment.
Colonies for epileptics were first established in the late 19th century, that at Chalfont St Peter being the earliest, funded by the philanthropist John Passmore Edwards (1823-1911). The Mental Deficiency Act, 1913, required local authorities to make provision for these patients.
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Barry G, Carruthers LA 2005 A History of Britain's Hospitals. Sussex, Book Guild Publishing.
Bartlett P 1999 The Poor Law of Lunacy. The Administration of Pauper Lunatics in Mid-ninetheenth Century England. Leicester University Press.
Jones K 1993 Asylums and After: A Revised History of the Mental Health Services: From the Early 19th Century to the 1990s. London, Athlone Press.
Parry-Jones WL 1972 The Trade in Lunacy: A Study of Private Madhouses in England in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. London, Routledge.
Scull A 2005 The Most Solitary of Afflictions: Madness and Society in Britain 1700-1900. London, Yale University Press.
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