14 May 2019

14th May 1837 - Leicestershire County Asylum Opened

On 14th May 1837 the Leicestershire County Asylum was opened with 104 patients. It originally housed patients from Leicester Borough and Leicestershire. They were joined by patients from Rutland, and then those from Leicester Borough went to a separate asylum as space was limited. A larger asylum was built in 1908 and the original County Asylum closed. The building was then used as a hospital during WWI, and became the administrative building for Leicester University.

There is an online community project set up to investigate life at both the county and borough asylums, and from it one gets a quite different impression of Victorian Asylums than usual. They suggest 'from its beginnings, Leicestershire Lunatic Asylum was intended to be a progressive, compassionate institution whose main aim was to cure people of mental ill-health, rather than to isolate and detain them.'

Also as there was not medication in those days 'therapy focused on their being provided with a place of safety and a routine of healthy living. Patients were given three good meals a day; they were kept busy in the workshops, laundry, gardens or on the asylum’s farm; and their leisure consisted of weekly dances, sports and county walks.'

To find out more visit About Leicestershire County Asylum

Thankyou to The Mental Health Timeline for the date.

The image shows The Fielding Johnson Building in the background. Thomas Fielding Johnson, a wealthy local businessman, purchased the building and gave it to the University.

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