Sunday, December 29, 2013

Asylum Differences by J.Kent

I came upon the Duke of York’s Royal Military Asylum while researching for one of my books. I thought this must have been like a Veteran’s Hospital in the 1800′s. But it wasn’t. It was a school that opened in 1803 to educate orphans of British military servicemen who were killed during the Napoleonic Wars. I was also surprised to learn that it admitted both boys and girls.

The School is no longer located in this building, which is now called the Duke of York’s Barracks. In 1909 the school moved to Dover. You can read more of the history here.

Hanwell Insane Asylum

The (1st Middlesex) County Asylum at Hanwell, also known as Hanwell Insane Asylum, was built for the pauper insane and has evolved to become the West London Mental Health (NHS) Trust (WLMHT). The 2nd Middlesex was Colney Hatch Asylum, opened in 1851, and the 3rd was Banstead Asylum in Surrey, opened in 1877.  

In the late 18th century and early 19th century some of the best therapies were already in place. Unlike some of the horror stories we hear today about the history of psychiatry, William Ellis incorporated therapeutic employment and the English Quaker, William Tuke, of the York Retreat, band chains or manacles.
 West Riding Pauper Asylum at Wakefield
In 1817 a William Ellis was appointed as superintendent to the newly built West Riding Pauper Asylum at Wakefield. 
He was born in Alford, Lincolnshire on 10 March 1780. His early career was as an apothecary but he soon took an interest in the treatment of mental disorders. This he learnt at the Sculcoates Refuge in Hull; which was run on a similar model as the York Retreat.

A Methodist, he too had strong religious convictions and so with his wife as matron he employed the same principles of humane treatment and moral therapy as practised at Sculcoates Refuge. After 13 years their reputation had become such, that they were then invited to run the newly built first pauper asylum in Middlesex called the Hanwell Asylum.
When’s the last time you found something that you weren’t looking for while researching either for a book you were writing or research of a different nature?

Jillian Kent loves England's Regency era. In 2013 her second book in The Ravensmoore Chronicles, Chameleon, finaled in both the Selah at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in romance fiction and in Romance Writers of America's prestigious Daphne du Maurier for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. Jillian is employed as a counselor for nursing students in Cincinnati, Ohio and possesses a masters degree in social work. She is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors and passionate about mental health, wellness, and stomping out the stigma of mental illness. You can reach her at and explore further at her website can also find her on Twitter @JillKentAuthor and Facebook

Jillian's most recent post for The Well Writer is here at Christian Fiction Online Magazine



  1. Very informative, how great that they opened a military school to educate orphans.

  2. It's good to know someone cared about those kids. Children suffered so much.

  3. Too bad there weren't/aren't more facilities run this way! I can't imagine how many lives were cut short or lost because no one took the time to help and care for people! Have a beautiful new year Jillian!