With one week to go until ‘Files on film’ closes, this is my final blog in a series focussing on the documents featured in the competition.
In this entry, I’ve chosen to look at one of the documents we know little about from its inclusion in the collection, but further research brings it to life and establishes its importance in the history of mental health.
Please note that at the time this document was produced, ‘lunatic’ was used to describe ‘a person of unsound mind, who was once of sound mind’. 1 This term was used until the passing of the Mental Treatment Act in 1930, but would not be used today and can be considered offensive. For the purpose of this post, the term is used in its historical context.
The ‘Asylum for Lunatics at Brislington House’ in Bristol was built in 1804 as one of the first purpose-built private mental institutions in the country. In MPI 1/332/1, extracted from PRO 30/8/314, we hold a floorplan of the building, showing in detail the provisions made for the patients and the way they were housed.
- 1. James Lappin, 1996, ‘Central Government and the supervision of the treatment of lunatics 1800-1913: A guide to sources in the Public Record Office’, London: Wellcome Trust. ^