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London Metropolitan Archives



Reference code(s): H23/SL

Held at: London Metropolitan Archives


Date(s): 1868-1999

Level of description: sub-fonds

Extent: 29.44 linear metres

Name of creator(s): Caterham Dene Mental Hospital x Metropolitan District Asylum x Metropolitan Imbecile Asylum x Caterham Asylum | 1870-1920 x Caterham Mental Hospital | 1920-1941 x St Lawrence's Hospital | 1941-1980 x Caterham and District | 1981-1986


Administrative/Biographical history:

Caterham Asylum was opened on 9 October 1870, one week after the opening of Leavesden Asylum. Both Asylums were built and run by the recently constituted Metropolitan Asylums Board for the care of "insane paupers" who were "such harmless persons of the chronic or imbecile class as could lawfully be detained in a workhouse". "Dangerous or curable" patients were to be sent to the county lunatic asylums. At first children were admitted along with adults, but from 1873 the children were sent to Darenth Training Colony. However, both Caterham and Leavesden were soon full to capacity. In 1903, a further Asylum was built at Tooting Bec.

From 1913 the Metropolitan Asylums Board became officially responsible for many mentally defective children (under the Mental Deficiency Act, 1913). Caterham received untrainable boys over the age of 8 when they left the Fountain Mental Hospital, Tooting, as well as other children such as semi-educable ones not up to the standard of Darenth Training Colony. Caterham had a large proportion of older patients and many who had been there a long time who had little chance of recovery. By 1930, the hospital had 2068 beds.

After 1930 Caterham Asylum, known as Caterham Mental Hospital since 1920, was run by the London County Council. In 1941 it was renamed Saint Lawrence's Hospital. During World War II, 494 beds at Caterham were set aside for Caterham Emergency Hospital taking in civilians and military casualties.

In 1948 Saint Lawrence's Hospital was taken over by the South West Metropolitan Regional Board who administered the hospital until 1974. Under NHS reorganisation the hospital was administered by the South West Thames Regional Health Authority. Between 1974 and 1982 it was in the Croydon Area Health Authority; in 1982 it became part of the Croydon District Health Authority. In April 1991 Saint Lawrence's Hospital became part of Lifecare NHS Trust.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of Caterham Asylum, later Saint Lawrence's Hospital, 1870-1990, including minutes, reports, visitor's books, NHS Trust application, registers of admission and discharge, creed patients, deaths, pathological samples, post mortems, injections, cases of dysentery and TB, casualty registers, ward books, medical journals, lists of reception orders, case books and case files, registers of baptisms and burials, papers about the centenary of the hospital, staff magazines and plans of the building.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

The records are arranged as follows: A = Administration, B = Patients' records, C = Staff records, D = Financial records, G = Chaplain's records, PH = Photographs, Y = Related documentation.

Conditions governing access:

These records are open to public inspection, although under section 5(4) of the 1958 Public Records Act administrative records are closed for 30 years and patient records for 100 years.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: Depositor

Physical characteristics:


Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

ACC/2332, ACC/3040, ACC/3114, ACC/3473, B05/049, B05/057, B05/062, B12/045


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

Administrative papers, 1915-1932, can be found at the Surrey History Centre, Goldsworth Road, Woking. The diaries of James Adam, superintendent, with inserted letters, memoranda and programmes, 1872-1879, are held at the Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine, Euston Road, London.

Publication note:

For further information see: The Metropolitan Asylums Board and its Work, 1867-1930 Metropolitan Asylums Board, 1930 (LMA Library ref. 26.03 MAB), England's First State Hospitals and the Metropolitan Asylums Board 1867-1930, Gwendoline M. Ayers, 1971 (LMA Library ref. 20.03 AYR) and St Lawrence's, The Story of a Hospital 1870-1994, Robert Malster, 1994 (LMA Library ref. 26.15 ST.L).



Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: February 2009

Child health services | Health services
Hospital administration | Hospitals | Health services
Hospital patients | People by roles | People
Lunatics | People by roles | People
Medical history | Personal history | History
Psychiatric hospital patients | Patients | Health services
Psychiatric hospitals | Hospitals | Health services
Medical institutions

Personal names

Corporate names
Caterham Dene Mental Hospital x Metropolitan District Asylum x Metropolitan Imbecile Asylum x Caterham Asylum | 1870-1920 x Caterham Mental Hospital | 1920-1941 x St Lawrence's Hospital | 1941-1980 x Caterham and District | 1981-1986
Metropolitan Asylums Board

Caterham | Surrey | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe