The ‘Ideal’ Asylum: A World of Difference
In Chapter Four, the ideas of a range of nineteenth century lunacy reformers were discussed, and models developed from the books and articles of Browne, Jacobi, Conolly, Sankey, Arlidge and Robertson. These authors presented the most detailed specifications for the physical environment of the lunatic asylum, and from their works a range of features were identified that were archaeologically testable against the data sets of documents, photographs, plans, and building histories. From this research it became clear that John Conolly's ‘ideal’ asylum of 1847 could be used as the core of a comparative model. This work provided the first full description of what an asylum should be, and later British writers were to build on it, with variations in the physical arrangement of rooms and sleeping accommodation. While the data sets generated by the testing of these features against the three case studies of British, South Australian and Tasmanian asylums allowed me to determine which features of the ‘ideal’ asylum the built asylums had, and from this to build a picture of life in these institutions, it is possible to go beyond this event based archaeology and ask further questions of the generated data sets. These form the highest level of questions as advocated by Cleland (2001: 2, 5, 7), which go beyond the single site or country in this case to identify wider forces at work in the provision of these places. These questions are:
KeywordsBuilding History Royal Commission Single Room Select Committee Moral Management
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