Inside the Pauper Lunatic Asylums
- Mark Davis
15th May 2019
A stranger has come
To share my room in the house not right in the head,
A girl mad as birds – Dylan Thomas, ‘Love in the Asylum’
With the advent of ‘care in the community’ for the mentally afflicted, the self-contained villages for the apparently insane have now been consigned to the history books. These once bustling Victorian institutions were commonly known in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as the ‘county asylum’ or the ‘pauper lunatic asylum’, and were an accepted and essential part of society for nearly two centuries. It is difficult to believe that in 1914 there were 102 such asylums, accommodating over 100,000 patients, the majority of whom lived their entire lives under care and treatment. Today, with the exception of those that have already been demolished, these buildings now lie empty and derelict, or have been converted for contemporary living. Through this photographic book we journey into the inner sanctum of a world of lost dreams, where hope was more often than not unwillingly traded for an uncomfortable acceptance.