asylum


Looking to the Light

New Dialogues an exhibition of Art at Glenside Hospital Museum on until the 1st April 2023 An exciting exhibition of contemporary art exploring mental health care has been launched at Glenside Hospital Museum, Bristol.  It is one of three ground-breaking new exhibitions across the UK inspired by remarkable collections relating to mental health. In Bristol, […]


Portraits of the Unremembered

Dr Paul Tobia, has been researching the patients at Bristol’s mental hospital, 1861-1900. Using the patient records at Bristol Archives and archives across Britain, he has created films and the many articles we have blogged on our website. Below is a beautifully drawn collection of portraits from another hospital, equally informative about people who became […]


Recoveries

In the ten years I have been researching the patients of the Bristol Lunatic Asylum, the thing that most struck me was the disparity between the popular view of asylums and the results of my studies. They were seen as as dreadful barbaric hellholes from which, once entered, you would never return but my studies […]


‘Poetry Helps’

World Suicide Prevention Day 10th September. We have been working with poet Caroline Burrows to create an online poetry event to be launched on September 10th for World Suicide Prevention Day:#PoetryHelps, exploring what can help with #SuicideAwareness and #SuicidePrevention. @VerseCycle. Caroline has created 45 verses and with the help of many participants has created a […]


Time to Delve into archives online

Dr Peter Carpenter,  treasurer and volunteer at Glenside Hospital Museum has found this portrait in the Wellcome Collection online and researched the mystery of Louisa a notorious  ‘Madhouse’ resident from the late 1700s. The mysterious Lady of the Haystack Why was Louisa admitted in 1781 to the lunatic ward of St Peters Hospital?   Louisa […]


The Stretcher: Untold Stories of the First World War

‘The stretcher-bearer ferried him from hell, A wounded soldier the blast of a shell.’ Stretcher-bearers are the unsung heroes of the First World War. They were often considered to be nothing more than a porter, but they were in fact extremely brave individuals who returned to the battlefield to collect the wounded. Advancing troops were […]


Glenside: Mental Health Museum by Sophie Stammers

For those of you who have not yet visited the Museum, or are unable to get here, this post gives a real flavour of what to expect when you come. It originally appeared on Imperfect Cognitions, the blog run by researchers at Project PERFECT, a multidisciplinary team investigating issues in mental health, irrationality and wellbeing, […]


The fickle press and the asylum

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 […]


Home: from St Louis, Missouri to Bristol Asylum

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 […]


Not ‘Us’ but ‘The Others’

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 […]


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

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

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 […]


Reclaiming the insane

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

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 […]


The Lunatic Asylum Ball

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 […]


The Padded Cell Part 2: the most frequent visitor

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

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 […]