The museum also contains information and numerous artefacts from the former Stoke Park Colony. This was made up of a number of houses for people with learning difficulties of all ages.
It started with The Dower House in 1908 (for women and young girls, closed in 1986). The Dower House is a landmark in Bristol, seated high on a hill above the M32. Recently restored and made into housing by Barrett’s builders.
The original building goes back to 1563, called Stoke House owned by the Berkeleys. The building was altered in 1700’s by Norman Berkeley. In 1770 it became Beaufort property. It was leased to the Revenue Harold Nelson Burden in 1908 to house people with learning difficulties, by 1911 he was able to buy it.
Burden had learnt of the need to create residential places for the ‘mental defective’ children, when he was invited by the Home Office, because of his work with inebriates, to sit on the Royal Commission for the Care of the Feeble Minded that met in 1904 to 1908.
On the 1st April 1909 it was occupied by children and developed into a home for women and children operated by the National Institutions for Person requiring Care and Control, licensed in 1919 at over 1700 beds. The Burden’s business expanded rapidly:
– Hanham Hall rented and opened in 1916. (For 240 males, but varied between men and women, closed in 2000.)
– Purdown became part of Stoke Park in 1914, it included the following houses: Heath House, Beech House, Oak House, Cherry Ward, Cedar Ward, Elms Ward and Towers Ward. By 1924, 340 people lived in the houses/wards, in the end there were 651 beds. (All were men with the exception of Elms Ward which was for blind women, they closed between 1984 and 1992.)
– Anchor Lodge, Clifton
– Leigh Court, Abbots Leigh purchased in 1917. (For 260 women, closed in 1985.)
In 1948, the hospital complex was taken over by the National Health Service. Slowly through the 80’s and 90’s the houses were closed. In 1992 all the remaining Learning disability services were absorbed into the new NHS Trust, Phonix NHS Trust, with the purpose of closing the remaining hospitals and moving into the community.
Stoke Park was officially closed in March 31st 1997.
Our Special Exhibition: Fossils
The grounds of Glenside and Stoke Park have an even more ancient history. We have a large collection of fossils found by local naturalist, Steve England. His fossils show the valley 300 million years ago was a tropical forest and 150 million years later a shallow ocean.