Book Launch

November 1st, 2014 by Admin No comments »

Behind Many Doors cover 300Behind Many Doors: Writing from Whitchurch Psychiatric Hospital
A vivid and revealing portrait of an Edwardian psychiatric hospital, created by those who know it most intimately
Tuesday 4 November, 7.00 pm on the Glanfa Stage, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay
Join Literature Wales on Tuesday 4 November for the launch of Behind Many Doors, an anthology of writing produced as part of The Whitchurch Project – a creative writing project marking the forthcoming closure of Whitchurch Psychiatric Hospital in north Cardiff. Sometimes shocking, often moving, always illuminating, this collection of writing will compel all those who turn its pages to think anew about the mental healthcare of the past and the future and to look again at a building that has impacted upon the lives of so many.
The Whitchurch Project was administered by Literature Wales, and led by writer and historian, Phil Carradice and writer and workshop facilitator, Briony Goffin. With Whitchurch Hospital’s closure on the horizon, the project was designed to give all those who have had a relationship with the hospital the opportunity to explore and express their experiences through creative writing.
Behind Many Doors is just a selection of the work that grew out of workshops, one-to-one writing sessions, interviews, as well as individual submissions. It is a vivid and revealing portrait of an Edwardian psychiatric hospital in Cardiff, created by those who know it most intimately. This unique anthology seeks to capture, preserve and shine a light on what Whitchurch Hospital has meant and still means to service users, staff members, visitors, carers and members of the local community across its long and complex history.
In her foreword to the anthology Briony Goffin said: “Sometimes psychiatric hospitals feel like secret worlds, enshrouded in mystery and rumour, regarded with trepidation; particularly those old redbrick institutions – the iconic gothic structure, beheld from afar, set alone amidst sweeping grounds and broad mature trees. The Whitchurch Creative Writing Project sought to shine light on that world… Together, these writers have produced a meaningful and moving legacy that not only offers intimate, historical insight into a particular world but could even assist in the way we think about the nature of hospitals, psychiatry, and the provision of holistic mental healthcare in the future.”

The anthology will be launched at a special event on Tuesday 4 November at 7.00 pm on the Glanfa Stage, Wales Millennium Centre, in the company of Phil Carradice and Briony Goffin and with readings from some of the contributors.
For further information, contact Literature Wales on: 029 2047 2266 /

Free event, all welcome.

Copies of Behind Many Doors will be available to buy at the launch event and afterwards from Literature Wales. All proceeds raised from the book with go back into literary projects in the fields of metal health and writing for wellbeing.

Thanks to Hollie from Llenyddiaeth Cymru/Literature Wales for this post

Whitchurch Hospital League of Friends

October 14th, 2014 by Admin No comments »
Upcoming Fundraising Events

Upcoming Sales













Please see poster above for Whitchurch Hospital League of Friends Booksale and Christmas Fayre

Fundraising Events 2014, at St Mary’s Church Hall, Church Road, Whitchurch village


Friday and Saturday 31st of October and 1st of November, 10am – 4pm

Christmas Fayre

Saturday 29th of November 1:30pm


World War I Tablecloth

September 30th, 2014 by Admin No comments »

I was having a look through my Twitter feed one day and came across a tweet about a tablecloth from a Cardiff Hospital during WW1 – This got me curious to find out more as Whitchurch was used as a Hospital during WW1 – The Welsh Metropolitan War Hospital. The initial tweet came from Elen Phillips, Principal Curator at St Fagans for Contemporary and Community History back in January. Following a few exchanges of tweets and then emails we realised that the tablecloth was indeed from Whitchurch and had the year 1917 embroidered on it together with names of staff – Matron Raynes and soldiers.

The tablecloth has a very interesting story as told by Ray Holman in his blog:

Elen kindly offered the Historical Society members an opportunity to visit St Fagans and see the tablecloth which some of us took up. It is a beautiful cloth and has many staff names on it including Col Goodall and Matron Raynes.

Some photos of the tablecloth after St Fagans restored it:

Restored WW1 Tablecloth

Restored WW1 Tablecloth










Restored WW1 Tablecloth

These are some of the names that can be seen on the tablecloth:

J. Drummond

W Jones 4th Worcesters

Dr H Thorps RFA

E. W. Ilford

D Kozroski 4th (?)G M. Rifles

Corp J. Cork 2nd Grenadier Guards

Pte F. Astin (?)5th Staffs

Pte S. Bradshaw 1st Lancs JVS

O. Standish 4th KOYL

S. Walker RFA

Pte Howard 24th HF

H. Bentley 11th Cheshire

Pte E. Sheffield 7th Kings Own

Pte J [can’t decipher surname) 2nd Royal Sussex

L/cpl. F. Richardson 8th Lincolns

G. E. Head 2nd Middlesex

(?)Selfield 1st Coldstream Guards

Pte J. F. Davies RAMC

(?)W. Cooper 14th Northumberland Fusiliers

Can you see any other names? If you have further information please get in touch.

Thank you to all involved in this story especially Elen Phillips. Photos courtesy of St Fagans.

Secrets from The Asylum

August 28th, 2014 by Admin 2 comments »

This is a series of two episodes on ITV looking at some celebrities going on a personal journey to find out how 19th century lunatic asylums shaped the lives of their families.

Here is some further information:

If you want to watch the programmes, here is a link to the itv player:

Road to Ruin

The two programmes are definitely worth watching, let us know what you think.

Thanks to Tim Goosey for this post

Hidden Now Heard / Clywed y Cyn-Cuddiedig Community

July 14th, 2014 by Admin 2 comments »
I heard about this project through twitter and thought it would be good to write a post about it.
Hidden Now Heard is a Heritage Lottery Funded project run by Mencap Cymru. Collecting oral histories from long-stay hospitals.
Over the next three years the project will collect the oral histories of people who lived in six long stay hospital sites across Wales. We will also interview former staff and family members of those who lived there.

Do you know anyone who used to work in:

Ely Hospital in Cardiff
Llanfrechfa Grange
St David’s in Carmarthen
Denbigh Hospital

A new project aimed at collecting the stories of 80 individuals who lived in these long stay hospitals will begin shortly. The majority of these stories will be from people with a learning disability but we also want to interview former staff and family members of patients.

These stories will be archived in St Fagan’s Museum and six regional exhibitions will be held based on interpretations of the stories over the next two and bit years.

Also if anyone wants to volunteer for us as a researcher, photographer, exhibition assistant or anything else please contact us.

These histories will be interpreted into six, temporary regional exhibitions held at Cardiff Story Museum, Swansea Museum, Carmarthen Museum, Newport Museum, Gwynedd Museum and Wrexham Museum.

Please get in touch directly with Hidden Now Heard.

At the end of the project all the stories will be deposited in the archive at St Fagan’s, the Museum of Welsh Life.


Does anyone recognise the World War 1 Hospital in this photo?

July 8th, 2014 by Admin 2 comments »

The photo is part of the St Fagans National History Museum WW1 collection which is currently being digitised. It was given to St Fagans in the 1990ies but its location is unknown. It may not be a Cardiff hospital but if you recognise it please get in touch. Could it be Whitchurch?

Where is this photo taken?

Where is this photo taken?

Thanks to Elen Phillips, Principal Curator: Contemporary & Community History at St Fagans,  for the photo and information.

I came across this website which gives some further information about  hospitals used during WW1:

The military hospitals at home

The flow of casualties from the various theatres of war soon overwhelmed the existing medical facilities in the United Kingdom, just as it did the recently established bases in France and Flanders. Many civilian hospitals and large buildings were turned over to military use. This listing is by no means complete.


3rd Western General. A TF General Hospital in Cardiff. 38 officers and 2626 other ranks. The Cardiff Infirmary became headquarters to the 3rd Western General Military Hospital, overseeing all the other military hospitals in the region.
Welsh Metropolitan War Hospital. Formerly the Cardiff City Asylum at Whitchurch. 61 officers and 839 other ranks.
– partly used for mental patients (14 officers and 416 ORs) from September 1917 to December 1919.
Kinmel Park Camp (Rhyl). A hospital established at an army base. 890 beds.
– a specialist venereal disease unit opened here after the Armistice
Prince of Wales Hospital for Limbless Sailors and Soldiers, Cardiff. 66 beds for men from Wales, Monmouthshire, Herefordshire and Shropshire.
Officers’ neurological hospital, Nannau, Dolgelly. Established by June 1918.

City of Cardiff. The Mental Hospital. Third Annual Report for the Year 1910

June 3rd, 2014 by Admin No comments »
Third Annual Report 1910

Third Annual Report

Third Annual Report

Third Annual Report



EDWIN GOODALL, M.D.Lond., B.S., F.R.C.P., M.R.C.S.




ROBERT VINER STANFORD, Ph.D.Kiel., M.Sc.Birm., B.Sc.Lond.






J.L. WHEATLEY (Town Clerk).


JOHN ALLCOCK, F.S.A.A., (City Treasurer and Controller).



Committee of Visitors

For the Year ending 31st December, 1910;

Settled at a Meeting of the Committee held at the Mental

Hospital on the 25th day of May, 1911, in pursuance

of section 190 of the Lunacy Act, 1890.

State and Condition of the Institution.

The maintenance of the Institution continues to be entirely satisfactory. The equipment and fabric have both been kept in thorough order and repair.

The laying out of the ornamental grounds, including the approach-drive has been completed. The exercising gardens of the patients and the other ornamental grounds are well provided with trees and shrubs, so that it will in future only be necessary to maintain them at their existing standard.

The kitchen-garden is able to maintain a satisfactory supply of vegetables to the patients and staff: the articles supplied, as also the produce from the farm, are detailed in the report of the Medical Superintendent. The farm and garden account shows a credit balance.

Amongst the more important work carried out by the staff of the Institution are the making of a road for heavy traffic from the entrance to the Steward’s Yard, whereby the Avenue of the Entrance is spared; the equipment of the Chemical Research Laboratory, with the necessary fixtures, benches, tables, cupboards, fume-and-combustion chambers, steam, water and gas services, extraction fan and motors; installation of telephone services from the main building to the farm; erection of a potato house; fixing baths for warm bath treatment in the general spray-bath rooms; installation of high-frequency electric plant for treatment; repairs to Velindre Lodge,  which is now habitable and rented to one of the Attendants; installation of brush-making plant in one of the shops; fixing additional hydro extractor in the laundry; erection of a second weaving loom in the upholsterer’s shop to enable cloth-making to be carried out on a larger scale.

The various workshops are found capable of dealing efficiently with the work of the Institution.

The main farm road from the entrance lodge remains to be completed, and a road to the farm from the main building has still to be made.

The underground cables for telephonic communication and for fire-alarm purposes to the houses of the resident officials have been found to work unsatisfactorily, and have been partially replaced by overhead wires, a work which is in process of completion.

Accommodation Provided and Available.

Third Annual Report

Third Annual Report

On April 1st, 1911, 39 female patients were received from the Salop and Montgomery Asylum on contract with the Montgomery County Council at charge of 13/5 per head per week.

The average number daily resident during the year was 682 as against 673 in 1909, or an increase of only 9 (3 males and 6 females), which is satisfactory.

The keeping down of the numbers is mainly due to the high recovery rate (46.7% – 40% for males, 56% for females), associated with the fact that the period of detention has been short in a large proportion of cases, as shown in the report of the Medical Superintendent. Less than 8% returned and remained of discharges in 1908-1910 inclusive. The period is in the nature of things, still a short one. As many patients as possible have also been sent out relieved to the care of their friends. There can be no doubt that this, the chief aim and object of the Mental Hospital, is promoted by the provision of a liberal scientific equipment and facilities in laboratories and clinical apparatus, and encouragement of workers competent to use such. Bu such means high medical, and, reflexly, nursing ideals are fostered and stimulated, and it is upon the maintenance of these that the promotion of recovery is mainly based.

The above is an extract from the annual report written by Morgan Thomas, Chairman of the Visiting Committee

Inside ‘The Asylum’: Eerie images of abandoned Victorian hospital

May 6th, 2014 by Admin No comments »
  • St John’s Asylum in Lincolnshire – which has been derelict since 1990 – was known for its electric shock treatment
  • Photographs captured by student Jonathon Tattersall after he visited now-derelict hospital which was built in 1852
  • Administration of hospital passed to the NHS in 1948 and by 1960s it was known by final name of St John’s Hospital

With paint peeling from the walls and doors left to rot, these eerie photographs provide a fascinating insight inside an abandoned mental hospital.

St John’s Asylum in Lincolnshire was known for its electric shock treatment – and rife with stories about inmates committing suicide in their padded cells.

These pictures were captured by student Jonathon Tattersall, 22, after he visited the now-derelict hospital to get a closer look of what remained inside.

Eerie: St John's Asylum in Lincolnshire was known for its electric shock treatment - and was rife with stories about inmates committing suicide in their padded cells

Thank you to Martin Ford and Tim Goosey for this post

Sympathetic Development of Disused Asylums

January 16th, 2014 by Admin No comments »

This is not Laura’s last post but should be read before Mental Health and Museums which is the final post, sorry for the incorrect order.

As in my previous post, the unsympathetic development of asylum architecture can very often relegate the history of an institution to a few folders in a county archive, with complete denial of the building’s former use a common marketing trope, as at Princess Park Manor. As an aside, I am currently living in London, and regularly see properties at the Manor – Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum, as was – advertised in the Evening Standard. I have never once seen any mention of the building’s original use. However, in the face of the alternative – demolition or collapse – perhaps development is the only possible route to survival for many of our listed hospitals.


One development in the south of England has proved to be much more sympathetic. Moorhaven Village, formerly Plymouth County Asylum, was developed as a set of homes within the footprint of the hospital, as far as possible (there were a few minor alterations to facilitate access). Moorhaven’s developers were able to use the hospital’s architectural features, for example, its south-facing design (a requirement of all asylums, as mandated by the County Asylum Act 1845) and it’s arrowhead formation, to split the site into individual family homes, without altering the footprint of the building. The developers established protective covenants ensuring the uniformity of the building’s exterior in the future, and have created a management company, funded by the sale of the properties and a small service charge, which protects the building as a whole.


Moorhaven is situated in a National Park. This is significant; it provided additional protection to the hospital that others have not had. Location is a key factor in preserving these sites – Princess Park Manor is unlikely to have survived even in its current form, were it not within greater London, where sympathetic conversion (often more expensive than demolition and rebuilding) will return a greater yield.


One example of a hospital that has had no such protection, Talgarth Asylum, has been extensively damaged by vandalism and neglect. The developers of Moorhaven had been asked to look at developing the site along the same lines, but the found it to be damaged beyond repair. In an interview for my dissertation, one developer stated “In its current state, I would value it at zero”.


In this regard, I think Whitchurch Hospital does have a certain measure of protection. It is not nearly so isolated as Talgarth, and sits within a relatively affluent borough of Cardiff. It’s also bounded by the Melingriffith and Church Road conservation areas, and is of course, a listed building (although many of the Asylums left to dereliction have also been listed). Hopefully, this means that in the event of the hospital’s closure, over-development or negligent dereliction can be avoided.

October 2013

October 2013


In my next and final post on the topic, I will talk a bit more about preserving the history of the hospital as well as the building. Whitchurch has not only played a significant role in the development of mental health care in Wales, but it has also been important to the whole of Britain, hosting many international research conferences and pioneering new techniques in the early-twentieth century. It has also, perhaps most importantly, played a significant role in the lives of its staff, its patients, and the local community for over 100 years.

To find out more about Moorhaven Village, visit

Thanks again to Laura for her guest posts

Whitchurch Hospital League of Friends

October 14th, 2013 by Admin No comments »

Fundraising Events 2013, at St Mary’s Church Hall, Church Road, Whitchurch village


Friday and Saturday 1st and 2nd of November, 10am – 4pm

Christmas Fayre

Saturday 30th of November 1:30pm

Fundraising events 2013

Fundraising events 2013