Link back to main ROSSBRET websiteKent Asylums


Link back to main ROSSBRET websiteKent Asylums


Asylums in the County of Kent

Opposite Kits Coty House is the new Lunatic Asylum, the cost of which is calculated at £50,000.
Source: Post Office 1846 - p 209
Submitted by Betty Longbottom

Malling Asylum
The Lunatic Asylum contains 70 inmates. It is superintended by Mrs Jane Rix.
Source: Post Office 1846 - p 323 
Submitted by Betty Longbottom

Classified as a Licensed House Asylum, located at West Malling Place, Kent.

The County Lunatic Asylum
The County Lunatic Asylum, Barming Heath, is large, containing 250 persons. Chaplain, Rev F Bultenshaw; medical supt, G Poynder esq; physician James Sibbald, MD; surgeon, James Whatman. 
Source: Post Office 1846 - p 316 
Submitted by Betty Longbottom 

Opened 1st January 1833, and since greatly enlarged, comprises an extensive range of stone buildings, at Barming Heath, 2 miles from Maidstone, 250 feet above the River Medway. In 1902 it contained 1,368 inmates (634 Men and 734 Women).
Source: Kelly's Directory 1902

Asylum Staff 1902
Francis Pritchard Davies Medical Superintendent
Rev. Henry Sylvester Alison Chaplain
Thomas William Dadd Steward and Clerk
Sarah A. Hulse Matron

The East Kent Lunatic Asylum

Erected in 1875 on Chartham Downs at a cost of 250,000, from designs by Messrs Giles and Gough, is a red brick building, commanding a fine view of the river Stour and covering with its grounds an area of 70 acres. The buildings, which have been extended, consist of central entrance, with offices and committee rooms, two blocks on either side, six in the rear and a Chapel in the centre. It will hold 500 Men and 600 Women.
Source: Kelly's Directory 1902

Asylum Staff 1902
Gerald Crowfoot Fitzgerald Medical Superintendent
Rev. Neville Albert Holt Chaplain
Henry Fielding Clerk to the Committee of Visitors
Norman Henry Sibley Assistant Clerk and Steward
Miss Margaret McMaster Matron

Darenth Asylum

The asylum for imbeciles and school for imbecile children, erected by the managers of the Metropolitan Asylum district, constitute one of the largest establishments of the kind in the kingdom. 

The buildings, erected in 1878 at a cost of £10,000, from designs by Messrs C and A Harston, architects, of London, are in the Gothic style, and stand on the uplands some 200 feet above high-water level. They have a frontage of nearly half a mile, including two massive water towers about 100 feet in height, and a handsome clock tower, and also comprise a chapel, infirmary and detached baths. 

A new wing was added in 1888 at a cost of £50,000, to hold 400 imbecile children, and a smallpox convalescent hospital has been built in the Darenth wood, at a cost of £63,000, for 600 patients. 

The school contains nearly 1,000 imbecile children and the asylum will hold 1,500 adults. The grounds and farm comprise about 170 acres, including a small part of Darenth wood. Picturesque and substantial farm buildings have been erected near the wood, and at the lower part of the ground are gas works. 

The water supply is derived from a well in the chalk 250 feet deep, whence it is pumped to the tower tanks at the rate of about 100,000 gallons per day : the sewage is disposed of by irrigation on the farm land. One acre of the ground has been set apart and consecrated as a cemetery. 
The total cost has amounted to about £330,000.
Source: Kelly's Directory 1891

The Journal of Mental Science Vol 25 1879-80 620 pp 
Published by the Authority of the Medico-Psychological
Association by John Churchill & Sons London.
Submitted by Alan Longbottom

p 598 Darenth Asylum near Dartford Kent by Dr Hack Tuke
We can speak from personal knowledge of the excellent
manner in which this institution is carried on. Dr Fletcher
Beach is indefatigable in the discharge of his duties as
Superintendent. Miss Stephens pursues her arduous task of
teaching with unabated zeal. May it continue. The carefully
kept record of the capacities of the children, showing what,
if any, has been the advance in the various divisions of
knowledge, is very creditable to her.

In this Journal, Vol xxiv p 129, is a notice of the First
two Reports of the Clapton Asylum, now removed to Darenth.
Those, who, like ourselves, have visited both institutions
will have been gratified by the change in the accommodation
and the facilities for carrying on the work of the asylum.

The foundation stone of the Darenth Metropolitan Asylum
was laid on the 19th October 1876 by Dr Brewer, the Chairman of the Board; and the school buildings were opened 7th Dec 1878. The contracts exclusive of cost of land, amounted to £76,329; the accommodation being for 500 children. At the same date the foundation stone of the Adult Asylum was laid by Dr Brewer - to be completed in 21 months from January 1879. The cost is to be £60,000 for six blocks, for the accommodation of 744 patients, in addition to 54 single rooms.

When we visited the school we found 157 boys and 93 girls
under teaching, there being in the asylum altogether 412. 
Of the 250, 135 were on the whole, and 69 on half-time, and
46 were taught only in the afternoon. Hours : 2 in the morning
2 in the afternoon and 2 spent in manual performance, as 
scrubbing etc. In addition to Miss Stephens there were 3
assistants and 4 school attendants who helped in teaching,
a total of 8. There were 7 mixed classes with an average of
29 children in each class, 203 were present on the day of
our visit. There is a change of class every half-hour. It is
striking to see the attention caused by the stroke of the bell.
Then there was the playing of the piano and - March - 
Teaching music by the Tonic Sol Fa system had been lately 
begun, and was regarded as important, from using the intellect as well as the sense of hearing. In testing colours we found that blue and red were most frequently recognised.

The work done in the schools up to the time of removing to
Darenth, is thus described by Dr Beach in a summary which 
he gave us on the occasion of our last visit.

"During the 3 and a half years the Clapton Asylum was in
operation, 625 patients were admitted, 130 discharged and 
106 died. Of those discharged, 5 boys and 3 girls were sent
out as recovered, and are earning their livliehood; 8 boys
and 3 girls were taken out by their friends as much improved,
whilst the remainder were either discharged at the request
of the different Boards of Guardians, or were sent back to
Leavesden and Caterham as unimproveable.

The training of the children comprises a physical, moral,
intellectual and industrial education - physical to improve
the low organisation which they possess - intellectual and
moral to improve their minds, and instil proper feelings; 
industrial, in order that those who are capable of it may
learn the means of livliehood, and may, together with those
who are incapable of being trained to so high a standard,
contribute towards their maintenance, and so lesssen the
expense as much as possible. 

The intelectual and industrial training go on side by side
by means of the half-time system. The more advanced boys 
work in the shops etc in the morning and in school in the
afternoon, and vice-versa. The girls in the dormitories in
the morning, and in school in the afternoon.

Of the 350 children in the Asylum at the time of this report, 
285 attend school, where instruction is imparted by the 
teachers, according to the mental capacity of the patient.
Those of the low type are taught the form, colour, and
size of objects, ideas of number being also imparted.
Some are even incapable of learning such simple ideas, and
have only to be amused. The higher classes are taught reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, drawing, sewing, etc. The objective system of teaching being the key-stone of the 

32 of the boys are taught tailoring, 32 shoe-making, 3
carpentering, 2 gardening, 1 engineering, 6 assist in the 
dining hall, and 24 work in the dormitories.
20 of the girls work in the dormitories, 8 assist in household
work, 2 in the laundry, 2 in the sewing room, and 3 in the
detached infirmary.

There is in fact the greatest difference between an untrained
imbecile child and one who has received instruction. The former sits listless in a corner, seeing but not perceiving, and
generally leading an animal existence; the latter takes an 
interest in the little world around him, and, as far as in 
him lies, does his best to make himself useful.
The practical results may be summed up as follows, leaving out of consideration for the present those patients who have been discharged, recovered, and much improved.

All the boots and shoes, and nearly all the clothing of the
boys are made by the imbecile children. In the tailor's shop
there are 5 boys who are able to make a suit of clothes
almost without assistance; while in the shoemaker's shop,
there are 2 boys who can make a pair of boots with a little
occasional help. All the boys are assisting in the work, or
undergoing training. Two girls are able to work the sewing
machine, and can make beds with a little assistance, and help generally in the work of the Asylum. 

Last year in the tailor's shop were mde 128 coats, 209 
waistcoats, and 214 pairs of trousers, while 1,142 coats,
684 waistcoats and 2,261 pairs of trousers were repaired.
In the shoemaker's shop were made 146 pairs of boy's and
334 pairs of girl's boots, and a very large quantity were
repaired. In the school-room, besides the instruction imparted
236 different articles were turned out.

The estimate value of the boys' labour in the workshops and
dormitories was during the year £148. The girls' labour in
the dormitories, household work, sewing room school-room during the same time was valued at £100.

It is thus seen that the temporary asylum at Clapton fairly
performed the work for which it was originated, and it is
confidently expected that in the new Asylum much greater results will be obtained.

From the 1879 Report we find the number resident in the Asylum 1st January 1879 was 196 males and 143 females at total of 339. Of 56 discharged since December 1877, 30 had gone to other  District Asylums, being over 16 years of age, and incapable of learning anything, 6 had been discharged at the request of the Guardians as improved and 6 as not improved, 4 had  been transferred to County Asylums, 4 had recovered, 84  went to the Homerton Fever Hospital; while 2 had escaped and 20 had died. The number of children actually attending school on January 1st 1879 was 174. As will be seen the numbers at the time of our subsequent visit were higher.

The daily cost per head during the last half-year was 1s-11.5d
The Commissioners observe in their Report - Dr Fletcher Beach continues to discharge with zeal and ability the office of Medical Superintendent.
Signed D.H.T.

Page updated 12 March, 2008 by Rossbret