1 Samwaise Court
Bedale, North Yorkshire
Tel: 07896 787 261
If you'd like to become a member, please use our contact form.
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
Jesse William Filler, was a Gardener at Leavesden Asylum (as it was then known) in the 1880s and 1890s. I can tell you the little that I know, but I wondered whether you have any information from that time?
Jesse William Filler was born in Sandridge in 1848. He married Isabella Hutchinson and they moved to Leavedsen where they raised a family of nine children. The 1891 census shows him living at Ganders Ash with the occupation "Gardener". Anecdotal accounts passed down through the family say that he managed several under-gardeners. Amongst other things they grew peaches and on occasions he would come home and pull one from his pocket!
An article in the Herts Advertiser 8/10/1881 refers to a court case involving the Asylum in which Jesse was called to give evidence. It was a trivial case but gives a small picture of life. Neighbours had been complaining about smells that they believed to be emanating from the boiling of food to be given to pigs on the estate. Jesse testified that he had caused the smell by spreading manure on the gardens. Apparently that was deemed OK and the case dismissed. The case was also reported in several other local papers - some with blow by blow accounts of what was said. Grief!!!!
When Jesse retired he was given a rather fine silver plated fish slice. I have it now, but there is no inscription. It is sadly in need of restoration.
Submitted on 13 December 2021, by Mike Atkinson, Great Grandson of Jesse Willaim Filler.
Below is copy of the article which appeared in the Herts Advertiser and St Albans newspaper on the 8th of October 1881. Curtesy of British Newspaper Archive
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.
“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.