Northlands Retreat for Inebriates
20 Bolingbroke Grove, Wandsworth Common, SW11 6EW
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1864 - 1915 ?

The Northlands Retreat for Inebriates was established in 1864 as a home for inebriate women of limited financial means (however, no working class patients were received).  The Retreat consisted of two large terraced houses in North Street, with a shrubbery and a carriage drive in front.

In 1898 the Retreat was licensed under the Inebriates Act to Misses Ellen and Jane Round (who were both resident) and their brother Dr John Round, who was the medical licensee.  Dr W.G. Dickenson was the visiting physician.

The houses, although now old-fashioned, had a comfortable and homely appearance.  Accommodation was provided for 5 female patients in a number of bedrooms.  Private patients were also accepted.  Amenities included a morning room, a dining room and two drawing rooms.  The servants were all abstainers.

The garden, also old-fashioned but pleasant, had a small lawn.  The back of the buildings was covered in trailing vine, ivy and wisteria.  Patients were not allowed to leave the premises unaccompanied, but could use the garden freely.

On admission each patient was examined by Dr Dickenson, who visited regularly once a week and generally directed treatment.  Total abstinence was strictly enforced.  The Round sisters kept their patients under constant supervision, accompanying them on shopping trips or, in the summer, on excursions to places of interest.  In the winter, if any patients wished to go to a concert or other entertainment, one of the sisters would go with them.  The sisters also took their meals with the patients and spent their evenings with them.

Patients usually stayed for at least a year; six months was the shortest time an inebriate would be admitted for.  If a year's patient had done well, she would be allowed to go out for walks when she had completed 11 months residency.

Patients rose at 07.45, had breakfast at 09.00, dinner at 13.30, tea at 17.00 and supper at 21.00.  All were required to attend morning prayers at 08.45 and evening prayers at 21.30, and Church services, unless they were Roman Catholic or Jewish.

After one year of residence, patients frequently remained for a further year or six months.  In 1903 the weekly charge was between one to two and a half guineas (£1.05 to £2.63), depending on the bedroom.  After discharge a large percentage of patients were said to be doing well in their own homes.

By 1907 the Retreat had moved to Bolingbroke Grove, occupying Westwood Tower at No. 19 and Elmhurst at No. 20.  It was licensed for 12 female patients suffering from inebriety or drug addiction.  Those seeking a rest cure were also admitted.  The average stay was nine months.

The Retreat closed sometime during WW1 (1914-1918).

Present status (January 2014)

Between the wars the houses of the first site of the Retreat on North Street were demolished and replaced by a large Council block  - Fairfield Drive.  North Street was renamed Fairfield Street.

The second site in Bolingbroke Grove became the Battersea Borough Maternity Home in 1921.  During WW2 (1939-1945) the buildings suffered bomb damage and were demolished around 1948.  The grounds of an apartment block - Lane Court - now occupy the site.

N.B. Photographs obtained in January 2014

Fairfield Drive

Fairfield Drive (above and below) occupies the first site.

Fairfield Drive

N.B. Photographs obtained in June 2012

Lane Court

The second site is now part of the grounds of Lane Court (above and below).

Lane Court

References (Accessed 26th February 2019)

(Author unstated) 1903 Where Shall I Send my Patient?  A Guide for Medical Practitioners and Book of Reference to the Health Resorts and Institutions of Great Britain.  Bournemouth, Association of Medical Men Receiving Resident Patients.

(Author unstated) 1904 British Institutions for the Care of the Inebriate - IX.  Hospital, 9th April, 32-33.

(Author unstated) 1914 The Medical Annual.  Bristol, John Wright & Co.  Pp 766, 888.

Morten H 1907 Health in the Home Life.  London, James Clarke & Co., 113.

Parliamentary Papers 1910 Report of the Inspector under the Inebriates Acts, 1879 to 1900, for the year 1908.  London, H.M.S.O.

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