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Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum

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  • Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum

    This thread is dedicated to historical information regarding the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum.

    I decided to start it because I've been surprised at how little information seems to be available about Broadmoor, despite the fact that it is frequently mentioned in Ripper & LVP research.

    My hope is that by pooling all our bits of information in one place this thread can become a useful and interesting resource for all of us.

    >>If you have old photos, documents, illustrations or other factual information about Broadmoor you are very welcome to post them here.

    (Please note that this thread is not intended for the discussion of individual suspects. Thanks.)

  • #2
    Broadmoor Info From National Archives Website

    Here is the full entry for Broadmoor on the UK National Archives site called "Your Archives":

    The Bethlem State Criminal Lunatic Asylum was established in 1814, the first purpose-built accommodation in England to house criminal lunatics. This had followed the case of James Hadfield who had shot at King George III at the Drury Lane Theatre London in 1800, but been found not guilty by reason of insanity KB 33/8/3, PC 1/3490, TS 11/223.

    Space at Bethlem soon ran out and it was necessary to use a private asylum (Fisherton House near Salisbury) as well as Camberwell and Dumfries Asylums. It was eventually necessary to create a new asylum. Land at Broadmoor was purchased for just over 5391 in 1856, and the new asylum opened in May 1863. There have subsequently been four such institutions in England (Broadmoor, Rampton, Moss Side and Park Lane), one in Scotland (originally in Perth Prison but later on at Carstairs) and Dundrum in Dublin.

    During its history Broadmoor has been known by a number of names namely Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum, Broadmoor Institution and Broadmoor Special Hospital.

    The Broadmoor archive is held by the Berkshire Record Office in Reading (see Record Keeping magazine Spring 2007), and includes thousands of records from the hospital. Some records about Broadmoor and its patients can also be found amongst the Home Office (HO), Ministry of Health (MH), Department of Health and Social Security (BN), Department of Health (JA), General Register Office (RG) and Treasury (T) series at The National Archives, Kew. More recent patient records (typically post World War Two) are still held at Broadmoor.
    T 165/4 gives information about the history of Broadmoor, Bethlem and various subjects concerning Broadmoor and is one of a series of Blue Notes T 165 which were compiled for Ministers on various government departments and institutions.

    There are census entries for staff and patients at Broadmoor, between 1861 and 1891 the information can be found under the parish of Sandhurst in Berkshire and in 1901 under Broadmoor using the 'institution' button, however in 1901 there are no full names of the patients only initials of Christian names and surnames. Until 1876 there are quarterly returns of the patients in Broadmoor HO 8 with details of names, ages, places of birth, why and how long they were in Broadmoor.


    • #3
      Basic Info About Broadmoor

      Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum was designed by Sir Joshua Jebb and covers 53 acres.

      Broadmoor opened in 1863, and in May of 1863 it admitted its first patients, all of whom were women.

      Broadmoor admitted its first male patients in February 1864.

      >Broadmoor is not classed as a Prison, even though many of its patients were committed through the criminal justice system.

      In order to reinforce this point, 'Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum' is called 'Broadmoor Hospital' today.

      The list of Broadmoor's famous inmates includes Richard Dadd, Thomas Cutbush, Ronald Kray, and Peter Sutcliffe.

      Broadmoor Hospital In Wikipedia:



      • #4
        Broadmoor Archives & Exhibits: Berkshire Records Office

        Broadmoor's Archives came under the control of the Berkshire Records Office in 2008.

        They have an excellent website which explains the protocols for accessing the archives.

        There is a link which allows you to read about the lives of some of Broadmoor's patients, including Richard Dadd. It also covers a rather sad topic, which is the large number of babies who were born in Broadmoor because their mentally ill mothers had been committed to the Asylum.

        There is also a fascinating exhibit called The Secret Life of Victorian Broadmoor which features photos and illustrations, a description of daily life in the Asylum, biographies of famous inmates, etc.

        I like this modern photo of looks a bit ominous, doesn't it?


        • #5
          Gates of Broadmoor

          Broadmoor's famous entrance, then (1908) and now:


          • #6
            1867: Broadmoor In The Illustrated London News

            These views of Broadmoor appeared in the Illustrated London News in 1867, which is just a few years after the Asylum opened. It was considered a state-of-the-art facility.

            Broadmoor Exterior View 1867:

            Broadmoor Female Dormitory 1867:

            Broadmoor Male Dormitory 1867 (Please note, a room like this is shown in the Broadmoor/Richard Dadd video, which I will re-post on this thread as it has good interior views of the facility):


            • #7
              Video: Inside Broadmoor & Inmate Richard Dadd

              This video was previously posted on another thread, but I decided to put it here as well because it gives a rare glimpse inside the walls of Broadmoor.

              It's a short (7 min) video exploring the life and work of artist Richard Dadd, best known as one of the most famous Victorian painter of Fairies.

              There is a great deal more about Dadd on the other thread, but in brief: Dadd was a very gifted young artist, but appears to have also been a paranoid schizophrenic. He suffered a mental breakdown in which he was obsessed with the fantasy of cutting the throats of his closest friends. Taken home to recuperate, Dadd did commit murder, tragically cutting his own father's throat.
              He was declared 'mad' and sent to Bethlem Royal Hospital (Bedlam). Later he was transferred to the new facility at Broadmoor, where he produced some of his most amazing work.

              Any book or website mentioning Broadmoor is almost certain to mention Dadd, including the Broadmoor Archives website, which has devoted a whole section to him.

              This video takes you inside Broadmoor, right through the same gates by which Dadd and the other inmates entered. It also shows you Dadd's dorm room, which looks like the man's dorm room shown below, and discusses what life inside Broadmoor was like in the mid-19th C.

              If you haven't already seen this video, I highly recommend it!


              Link to Dadd Thread:

              Richard Dadd painting while an Asylum inmate. (Note: This particular photo was taken in Bedlam, not Broadmoor, because the canvas Dadd is working on, 'Contradiction: Titania & Oberon', was finished in about 1858, before the new facility at Broadmoor opened.)


              • #8
                Question About Fees & Room Arrangements

                I have a question about Broadmoor that maybe one of you can answer:

                The 1867 illustrations show a large female dormitory with a number of beds, whereas the illustration of the "male dormitory" shows a man in his own room with an open window playing a violin.

                Dadd's room was very much like the latter; he was even given another room in which to paint, which must have been a mark of special favor because the Asylum was so proud of his artwork.

                >My question is, did the patients from wealthier families get the nicer private rooms because their families paid an additional fee? Or were they simply given to higher-status patients, or even awarded on a merit basis?

                Thanks, Archaic


                • #9
                  Lower Terrace at Broadmoor

                  This undated old photo is titled 'Broadmoor Lower Terrace'.

                  This is where the patients would have walked, 'taken the air', and played games,
                  as depicted in the 1867 illustrations depicted in the next post.


                  • #10
                    Outdoor Recreation at Broadmoor, 1867 ILN

                    The 1867 London Illustrated News included two scenes of Broadmoor patients outside indulging in healthful and happy outdoor recreation, probably in or near the area shown in the old photo below.

                    What I find interesting is the fact that these idyllic pastimes and expansive park-like surroundings would have been
                    only a hopeless fantasy for the average working class adult. If you look closely, the women are dancing and the men are playing croquet!
                    (Slogan Suggestion: "Come to Broadmoor, and get away from it all!"

                    Female Patients On the Terrace:

                    Men's Recreation:


                    • #11
                      Another Brick In The Wall...

                      This photo is just to show you just how high the old "high-security" brick walls at Broadmoor are.

                      The guy in the photo isn't a looney, he's on the outside.
                      (Well, maybe he's a looney, but he is standing on the outside of the Broadmoor walls.)


                      • #12
                        Electric Fence

                        Here's the modern security fence at Broadmoor... another example of the wonders of electricity.


                        • #13
                          What I find interesting is the fact that these idyllic pastimes and expansive park-like surroundings would have been
                          only a hopeless fantasy for the average working class adult
                          . If you look closely, the women are dancing and the men are playing croquet!
                          (Slogan Suggestion: "Come to Broadmoor, and get away from it all!"--Archaic

                          How true....good of you to notice and mention, galpal !

                          To Join JTR Forums :


                          • #14
                            Brooadmoor Chapel

                            The Broadmoor Asylum Chapel.

                            >A question just occurred to me: Did Broadmoor have a Cemetery?

                            Many Asylums did.


                            • #15
                              Aerial View

                              Modern aerial view of Broadmoor.

                              Just for the sake of comparison, here's the 1867 image from the London Illustrated News again.