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Since 2009, I have collected a very large, and in some cases very rare, assortment of documents which relate to the people, places and events that made up the Leavesden Asylum/Hospital from 1870 to 1995.
Many of these documents were donated to the Leavesden Hospital History Association by former staff of the hospital or their relatives.
These are being made available to the public so that anyone wishing to learn more about the operations of the hospital can find this information all in one place.
I will be adding more documents as they are catalogued and scanned, so watch this space.
Martin Brooks - 17 March 2023
During the early days of the Leavesden Asylum, the job of maintaining and managing physical structures of the hospital, the brick as motor, as well as the 20 acres of landscaped gardens and the 42 acres of the Home Farm, fell to the Chief Steward.
Today, these duties would be the responsibilities of the Facilities/Premises or Estate Manager.
This is the handwritten record made by Henry Chapman who worked as the Chief Steward of the Asylum from around 1895 to 1903 and is a fascinating look into the behind the scenes running of such a large organization and facility.
The following is a transcript of an article that originally appeared on page 3 of The Herts Advertiser and St Albans Times on the 16th of July 1887 and details the recent inspection of the Leavesden Asylum by the newly formed Metropolitan Asylums Board.
The annual inspection of the Leavesden Asylum by the managers of the Metropolitan Asylum District took place on Saturday.
A number of the members of the Asylum Board proceeded by train to Watford, and thence drove to the asylum, Abbots Langley.
The asylum - opened October 1870 - contains accommodation for 2,000 harmless insane patients - 900 males and 1,100 females.
The Leavesden estate comprises 85 acres one rood, of which about 38 acres are under cultivation. The cost per bed, including purchase of land, is £9O 14s. 7d., and the present cost per head per day for maintenance and clothing patients is 7d.
Under the guidance of Dr. John Bell Sedgwick (the chairman of the committee of management), the managers made a complete inspection of the asylum, commencing with the administrative offices, passing to the chapel, then through female wards, next the male wards, and finally overlooking the farm.
Many of the imbecile patients seemed anxious for liberty, and, of course, thought they were perfectly sane. Their delusions took various forms, such as imagining that they were wrongfully detained for interested motives, or complaining of their treatment, though it was evident that there was no ground for such complaints. One man wished to get "a situation outside," remarking that he would be steady.
At a luncheon which subsequently took place under the presidency of Dr. John Bell Sedgwick, the health of Sir E. H. Galsworthy, the chairman of the Metropolitan Asylums Board was proposed, and it was pointed out, Sir E. H. Galsworthy being present, that this was the first institution under the management of the board, that he had visited since he had received the honour knighthood. Replying to the toast, Sir E. H. Galsworthy said he regarded the honour conferred upon him as due to his official position, and all he could say was that during the time he had been connected with the board he had done his best, as he should continue to do. He proposed "The health the committee of management." He stated that the committees of the board worked hard, and he went on to say that the newspapers occasionally made mistakes, even going as far as the Islington Guardian to accuse the board of extravagance. The managers thought that the work was done economically, and that a great deal of public benefit was derived from the operations of the board, and they were satisfied. No one could examine such an institution as that without being satisfied with the admirable results.
The toast was responded to by Dr. Sedgwick, who said that it was the desire of the committee to carry out the wishes of the board and to endeavour to promote the wellbeing of the miserable persons committed to their charge. Other toasts were given, reference being made to the excellent staff of the institution, and the care bestowed on the poor inmates.
Provided by: Mike Atkinson, 8 December 2021.
"A Sterilized Water-Supply at Leavesden Asylum" - Paper No. 36060 - 1899
As the result of a Cholera epidemic at the Leavesden Asylum in early 1898, which is reported to have caused the death of over 5000 patients and staff at the hospital, a report on the installation of a sterilized water supply system was requested from William Thomas Hatch, M. Inst. C.E.
Leavesden Mental Hospital - Manual of Duties - Revised 1932
London County Council, Manual of Duties - Extracted from the Statutory "General Rules" from management of the London County Mental Hospitals, and from the "Regulations" supplementing those Rules, made by the London County Council. Revised to 31st July 1932.
“Problems in measuring and evaluating the quality of care in mental handicap hospitals.”
Written by Andy Alaszewski, MA Cantab and published in the October 1977 edition of the Health and Social Service Journal.
This paper addresses the indices for measuring performance within the NHS with an emphasis on hospitals for the mentally handicapped.
Pat Allen Essay - 1979
Patricia (Pat) Allen was studying for her Ordinary National Certificate in Business Studies at St Albans College and selected to do her essay on the operations of the Leavesden Hospital.
It is a detailed accounting of the inner workings of the institution in the 1979.
Pat Allen Essay Correspondence
Correspondence between Pat Allen and various departments of the Leavesden Hospital requesting information for her essay
“The North West Thames Regional Health Authority News”
16 April 1985.
Title: Consultation Paper Spells Out New Management Proposals for Mental Handicap Hospitals.
Topic: Plans to integrate the management of Hertfordshire’s three hospitals (Leavesden, Harperbury and Cell Barnes) into one District Health Authority are presented.
"The Development Control Plan for Leavesden Hospital, December 1986"
This Development Control Plan, produced by the North West Hertfordshire Health Authority (later to become the Horizon Trust) was one of many attempts to try and save parts of the Leavesden Hospital by selling off the land on the south side of the site (the Annexe) to raise the capital needed to maintain a smaller version of the main hospital.
"The History of Leavesden Hospital by Monica Diplock."
Monica Diplock was the Head of the Male Occupational Therapy Department at the Leavesden Hospital from 1962 to 1984.
Seeing the writing on the walls that the hospital would soon be closing, she set about recording its history and heritage.
Monica passed away in October of 2020 at the age of 96.