The British Lunatic Asylum: Ideals and Realities
In 1859 John Arlidge argued that most, if not all; lunatic asylums were based on the design of Bethlem Hospital, itself based on the design of monasteries which had provided the early accommodation for the insane (Arlidge 1859: 200). Was this true? Were those given the task of designing and constructing lunatic asylums merely copying an established template? Or were they responsive to the current ideas about what was required in an ‘ideal’ asylum environment? This chapter examines a collection of British lunatic asylum plans to try and clarify to what extent the models of the ‘ideal’ asylum were realized in nineteenth century lunatic asylums. This is done by analyzing the buildings, their layouts, and the use of rooms as indicated on the plans or in accompanying legend, and comparing the results to the features detailed in the ‘ideal’ asylum models, such of those of Conolly, Jacobi, Sankey and Robertson as discussed in the last chapter. If the ‘ideal’ was not realized do they instead show an internal consistency that might be based on a replication of the Bethlem design?
KeywordsGround Floor Single Room School Room Medical Superintendent Lunatic Asylum
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