Stories


The fickle press and the asylum

Glenside Hospital Museum

By Dr Paul Tobia Whether the local press reflects public opinion in the late 1800s it is difficult to know because there are rarely any other sources, but they do give an insight into attitudes to mental health care. Bristol had produced many newspapers since the Bristol Post Boy was first published in 1702. When […]

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Home: from St Louis, Missouri to Bristol Asylum

Glenside Hospital Museum

ALBERT JAMES HOME (1846-1910) By Robert Home Albert James Home was born in Midsomer Norton, Somerset, then a mining town and new railway hub. The only child of William Home (1809-1880), a brewer’s commercial traveller, and his wife a local woman, Sarah Smith (1811-1890). (William had been born in Stanton Lacey near Ludlow, and the […]

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The Other

Not ‘Us’ but ‘The Others’

Glenside Hospital Museum

Article by Dr Paul Tobia   Being laid up in bed for the last week with what my wife is determined to label as ‘manflu’ I have had lots of time to think and have considered the question why do research on Bristol’s Victorian psychiatric hospital and does it do any good. Does Glenside Hospital […]


Harriet Nowland

Labelling. Putting people in a box is it ‘jail’ or ‘home’?

Glenside Hospital Museum

Article by Dr Paul Tobia Up until now I have concentrated on the patient records from Bristol’s purpose built asylum in the nineteenth century, but in this article I begin my exploration of  the period 1900-1915 before the asylum became Beaufort War Hospital in1915. This period, often called the Edwardian era, has been characterised as […]


The ‘Good’ Doctor

Glenside Hospital Museum

Pretending to be someone other than oneself is an attractive prospect, you can forget your insecurities and adopt another persona more confident and  talented than yourself. This is what the acting profession is based on and to a certain extent it is something we all do. I know that when I went to work as […]

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One man’s war. All the way from Tasmania

Glenside Hospital Museum

Private Charles Samuel Henry Dale experienced the First World War in Gallipoli, France and Belgium, and due to the severity of the wounds he sustained was deemed unfit for active duty in the Second World War. He was one of the 29,000 plus soldiers who came to Beaufort War Hospital for treatment. Dale had enlisted […]


PEOPLE WHO SHAPED OUR WORLD

Glenside Hospital Museum

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN Dr Donal Early (1917-2004) pioneered a radical new way of treating mental illness in Bristol in the 1960s and with his wife Dr Prudence Early (1918-2017) founded in 1984 the unique and nationally important Glenside Hospital Museum. While some 100 years have passed since their birth in Ireland, the museum continues […]

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Reclaiming the insane

Glenside Hospital Museum

Throughout history those with mental health problems have been depicted as ‘other’, thus distancing them from the general population. At Glenside Hospital Museum in Bristol, we are very lucky to have unique collection of photographs, paintings and drawings of the patients and the environment of the Bristol Lunatic Asylum which later became Glenside Hospital.  They […]


At the Mercy of the Doctor

Glenside Hospital Museum

Article by Dr Paul Tobia History is often portrayed as a series of narratives in which great men (and they always seem to be men) changed the world with their strength and leadership, intellect or malevolence. This view of history has been challenged, as economic, social and cultural factors can be shown to be more […]

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In Remembrance: capturing the history of war is not easy

Glenside Hospital Museum

This Remembrance Weekend GHM would like to thank all our visitors who gave us their family stories. Their contributions have been added to our collection to share with the generations to come. They help us remember the soldiers who came to Beaufort War Hospital during the First World War. In 2014, we began to research […]


The Lunatic Asylum Ball

Glenside Hospital Museum

Bristol Lunatic Asylum took leisure activities for patients seriously. It was seen as part of supporting the patients to regain their health. They had a small library and organised a number of sports activities including cricket. Each week they had a concert which most of the patients attended. In 1864 bagatelle boards and a skittle […]

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The Padded Cell Part 2: the most frequent visitor

Glenside Hospital Museum

In the late nineteenth century the medical journals of Bristol Lunatic Asylum list which patients were placed in the seclusion room.  The name which occurs most often was Hannah Llewellyn. Over a number of years starting in 1873 she was regularly placed there, usually the reason given was ‘excitement’ or ‘fighting’(Medical Journals, BRO 40513/J/7 and […]


The Padded Cell Part 1

Glenside Hospital Museum

At Glenside Hospital Museum there is a replica of a padded cell, a small room with cushioned walls. One panel is thought to be from the late nineteenth century, you can see layers of colour as the room got repainted from pink, to blue and then pale yellow, another panel is the door from the […]

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Alice Cox

Children at the Asylum, forgotten pasts: Part 3

Glenside Hospital Museum

To rescue their forgotten pasts I have chosen a further four children to illustrate the diversity of their health problems and experience in the asylum.   Henry Kane   Henry Kane was admitted on May 24th 1898 from the Bristol Union Workhouse. He died of tuberculosis seven months later. Aged 15 he suffered from what […]


Children in the asylum: Part 2

Glenside Hospital Museum

Admissions of children aged 11 to 16 As the age of those admitted increases there are profound differences. To be able to make comparisons I developed a database. The analysis shows there were more of them: twenty-three 15-year-olds and forty 16-year-olds. Their chances of recovery improved with age; 46% of those aged 15 or 16 […]

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Young children in the Asylum: Part 1

Glenside Hospital Museum

The asylum admission books record many tragic stories but the most heartrending were of children admitted to the asylum. There were not many; 96 or 1.8% of the admissions between 1861–1900 were children aged 16 or under and of these only ten were under 11. The youngest was Rosina Smith who was admitted aged just […]


Discovering Glenside Through its Objects #5: Every name is a number

Glenside Hospital Museum

  One wall of the museum is devoted to a series of black and white photographs of patients from the nineteenth century. The images are of men and women, old and young, mostly from working or trade backgrounds. Some are housewives, some are maids and there are a smattering of artists and artisans. Sitting just […]

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Discovering Glenside Through its Objects #4: Creature Comforts

Glenside Hospital Museum

One area of the museum has been dressed as it would have been during Glenside’s pauper lunatic asylum days, using the original furniture from the  Victorian Board Room. There is a large mahogany dining table and chairs to seat twelve. The lower half of the room has the original dark wood panelling. Above, the walls […]