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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): O/184
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1758-1789
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 0.01 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Saint Luke's Hospital x Saint Luke's Hospital for Lunatics


Administrative/Biographical history:

On 13 June 1750 a meeting to consider the establishment of a hospital for the care and treatment of the poor suffering from mental illnesses took place at the King's Arms, Exchange Alley, City of London between Thomas Crowe, physician, Richard Speed, druggist, James Sperling, merchant, William Prowing, apothecary, Thomas Light, merchant and Francis Magnus. At this time, provision for treatment of individuals from poor families in London was made at the Bethlem Hospital, but waiting lists were long and alternatives were private 'mad houses' which were beyond the means of most people.

From the beginning, the founders of Saint Luke's Hospital intended to cure 'lunacy', as well as to make treatment accessible to poorer people. Two apothecaries were found to prepare and supply all drugs required free of charge, and after 4 months over 1000 had been pledged and a committee formed to establish the hospital. Appeals for funds gave people opportunity to be come Governor of the hospital for life if they gave 20. At Bethlem, the public were allowed to come and look at the 'lunatics' on public holidays, as a form of leisure. One of the first rules of the new hospital was 'that patients in this hospital be not exposed to publick view'.

The first site of the hospital, called Saint Luke's Hospital for Lunatics, was the old Moorfields Foundry leased by the City of London. George Dance, City Surveyor advised on the conversion of the building and gave his services free. The hospital was named Saint Luke's due to its proximity to Saint Luke's, Old Street. In July 1751, the first patients were admitted. During the 1750s, there were 50 'curable' and 20 'incurable' patients with staff consisting of the Keeper and his wife, with 2 male and 2 female attendants.

The hospital's funds were substantially increased with a major bequest of 30,000 by Sir Thomas Clarke, Master of the Rolls. This allowed a move in 1786 from the Foundry to a 3 acre site on Old Street leased from Saint Bartholomew's Hospital. The number of patients increased to 80 'curable' patients and 30 'incurable' patients. In 1832 an infirmary was added to the hospital. From 1833, occupational therapy for patients was introduced.

In 1841 the hospital came under the authority of the London Commissioners in Lunacy. The Commissioners considered the Old Street site to be unsuitable for reception of patients due to its central location in London. The Governors argued that the capital's population required provision of treatment of individuals with mental health conditions and did not have financial reserves to leave the site or receive financial benefit from terms of the existing lease. To increase funds, following successive building alterations and improvements, it was decided in 1858 to admit 'incurable' patients on a paying basis.

In 1882 the Keeper and Matron (wife of Keeper) system of administration was abolished, and qualified nurses were admitted. Further training was supplied by the Medical Superintendent. In 1904 nursing uniforms were introduced.

From 1871 the Governors began examining options for acquiring a second site for the use of convalescent patients. In 1893 Nether Court, Saint Lawrence-on-Sea, Ramsgate, Kent and 12 acres of grounds was rented for the benefit of female patients and later bought in 1901. In 1910, Welders House and Estate near Jordans, Buckinghamshire consisting of 135 acres was purchased for the establishment of a large convalescent home but was never brought to completion.

By end of 19th century, state-run County Asylums were well established for the reception of patients with families with limited means.The proportion of patients from the middle classes therefore increased.

The Old Street site was finally sold to the Bank of England in 1916, following lengthy negotiations with Saint Bartholomew's. By the end of 1916, most patients has been discharged back to their families or to other hospitals.

In 1922 an out-patients department was begun at the Middlesex Hospital to provide beds for patients. In 1930 Woodside Nerve Hospital was opened at Woodside Avenue, Muswell Hill, and the hospital purchased the 3 buildings in the road. In 1938 28 Grand Avenue was taken into use as a nurse's home and arrangements for resident patients at the Middlesex was terminated.

In the 1935 the hospital treated the following range of cases (source: summary statistics contained in H64/B/08/01/001):

- 'Organic nervous and mental disorders': Alcoholism, cardiovascular (involving the heart and blood vessels), Meniere's Syndrome (inner ear condition causing dizziness), drugs, cephalalgia (head aches) and 'senile changes'

- 'Functional syndromes': Anxiety states, confusional states, depression, elation, hysteria, neurasthenia (nervous breakdown), obsessional states, paranoid, schizophrenic (psychotic behaviour).

Anxiety, depression and hysteria being the most prevalent cases.

From 1939 on the onset of the Second World War, the Ministry of Health took over the hospital for the sole treatment of Ministry of Service (E.M.S.) servicemen and women patients suffering shell shock from active service. By 1945, 1705 Service patients had been treated at Woodside.

In 1948, upon the foundation of The National Health Service (NHS), Saint Luke's - Woodside Hospital became the psychological department of the Middlesex Hospital with a teaching as well as treatment role. The hospital came under the following administrative authorities:

Middlesex Hospital Management Committee (from 1948-1974) then North East Thames Regional Health Authority (1974-1982), then Bloomsbury District Health Authority (from 1982). In 1993 the hospital joined the newly formed Camden and Islington Community Health Services NHS Trust and in turn was managed from April 2002 by Camden and Islington Mental Health NHS Trust.


Scope and content/abstract:

Counterpart leases regarding property in Lincolns Inn Fields and printed sheet entitled "Instructions to such Persons who apply for the admission of Patients into Saint Luke's Hospital for Lunatics".

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

One bundle.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: City of London

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

AC/53/058. Material received in 1953.

Allied Materials

Related material:

See H64 for the records of Saint Luke's Hospital. Further records relating to the admission of lunatics to the hospital can be found at H01/ST/Y/34, DRO 58/348 and P69/SEP/35.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

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:
January 2009

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