Leavesden Hospital History Association "The Act of Caring is Heroic"
Leavesden Hospital History Association"The Act of Caring is Heroic"


1 Samwaise Court

Bedale, North Yorkshire


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                       The Staff

From its opening on October 1st 1870 to its closing in October of 1995 the Leavesden Asylum/Hospital and its associated facilities relied on a work force of from 240 Doctors, nurses, support staff and volunteers in 1870 to a staff of 3500 in the 1950s to give care to the thousands and thousands of inmates (term used from 1870 to 1932) patients ( term used from 1932 to 1950s) and residents (term used from 1950s to 1990s who passed through their doors in need of help during the 127 years of the facilities operation. Many of these individuals gave much of their time and energies to help improve the lives of so many who had so little. Their acts of caring were truly heroic.

These are just a few of them


Male attendants circa 1900 worked exclusively male wards. There uniforms were typical of the original military/prison atmosphere of the early days of the hospital.


Jack Denton, standing back row on the left, started his career as a male ward attendant in 1907 and retired in 1937 as the Chief Stewart.                                                 

Jack Denton in 1937 as he retired from the hospital







This is a photograph of the Leavesden Mental Hospital tug-of-war team in about 1910. It was taken in front of the workers cottages at Asylum Terrace (now known as Tanners Hill), where my great-grandfather lived for a while. They called the road the "frying-pan" because of its shape.
My great grandfather worked at the asylum as a labourer, perhaps as a stoker for a while, between 1901 and his death in 1920. He had previously served in the Royal Navy and had been on the crew of HMS Victory in Portsmouth when it was used as a supply ship. When I was visiting the hospital in the 1970s I was shown records of his wages by Roy Brown, the volunteer co-ordinator. (Roy Brown played for Watford F.C. in the 1950s.)
I know the identity of only two men in the photo. The first seated on the left is Thomas Morrissey and next to him, seated next to the rope, is my great-grandfather Edward Morrisey. Yes, the spellings are correct. For some reason my grandfather Edward dropped an s while his younger brother Thomas kept a double s in his surname. Their father, also Thomas, came from Waterford in Ireland and he had a double "s" in his surname.
Submitted by
Rory  Morrisey
21 June 2021

Some of the Nurses who worked at the St Pancras Workhouse/School in the early 1920s. The Workhosue/School was closed in April of 1930 and annexed by the Leavesden Mental Hospital. 

Ward Nurses - 1922

Courtesy John Noonan

Leavesden Mental Hospital Ward Nurses - circa 1930s.

Leavesden Hospital kitchen staff - 1930s. 

Courtesy Abbots Langley Local Hsitorical Society

Members of staff take a day trip to Margate in 1937.

Recognize anyone ?


A nurse trained in Canada and assigned to the Canadian Hospital located in the old St Pancras Workhoue/School across Asylum Road (now College Road) from the main hospital during WW2.








Felicity Firth was a volunteer at the hospital during the 70’s and 80’s and visited patients at the hospital monthly.  She joined a group of other volunteers who came from Leavesden All Saints Church on Horseshoe Lane. She and the other volunteers worked in the female wards named Daffodil, Bluebell and Godetia.  


Felicity loved her time at the hospital and wrote this poem about her experiences there.



Going Home

“I’m going home tomorrow”. She said.

My Mum’s coming on the train.

She’s taking me home.”

“That’s nice. I answered.

“Have a nice trip.”

“Oh I won’t be coming back .” she clarified.

And into the surrounding mayhem

A pool of silence fell.

I knew she wouldn’t be going home.


Next time she showed me her ring.

“Do you like it? Isn’t it pretty?

We’re getting married soon.

He’s very good looking.”

“That’s good.” I said

“You must be happy.”

There was no fiancé

And the ring looked as if it came from a cracker.

But who was I to shatter her dreams.


It was always the same story

As the years slipped by.

Marriage and going home were never going to happen.

Then one visit she wasn’t there.

“What’s happened to Jean?” I asked a nurse.

“Oh she died dear.”

So I suppose she did go home.



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©Leavesden Hospital History Association and Martin Brooks