Lancaster Moor Hospital (Lancaster County Asylum)

Lancaster became a provincial centre for the treatment of mental illness during the nineteenth century, and in 1809 the decision was made to build the proposed County Lunatic Asylum in Lancaster. This followed the creation of the County Asylums Act 1808. The asylum was built, and was the first County Lunatic Asylum in Lancashire and the fourth t be built under the terms of the new act. It opened in 1816 under the name of The County Lunatic Asylum for the County Palatine of Lancaster. It was extended in 1824 and 1882, and by 1891 it accommodated 1833 patients. More buildings were added in later years to house private patients. At one time the asylum could hold up to 3200 patients. The asylum was later renamed Lancaster Moor Hospital, and closed down in 1991, and was listed as a Grade II listed building.
The Asylum is a stately quadrangular building of stone, with a handsome front, relieved by pillars of the Doric order, and at one time could hold up to 3,200 patients. The annexe completed in 1882 at a cost of �125,000, occupies a site comprising an area of about 41 acres. The buildings are constructed of stone; in the centre of the block over the main entrance is a clock tower about 100 feet in height, and there are smaller ones at the front extremity of each wing. The main part has been listed as Grade II and the whole building itself is in excellent condition. The owners English Partnerships are currently deciding on what to do with the building.
But beneath the veneer of these simple facts and statistics lies anther story of Lancashire�s first County Lunatic Asylum which is as dark as its blackened exterior.
Large Victorian public asylums haunt the history of psychiatry. They were once hailed as places of refuge for some of society�s supposedly most vulnerable men and women but they soon earned a reputation as dehumanising, prison-like institutions. It�s impossible to say what treatments and restraints were used at the Lancaster County Lunatic Asylum as secrecy and discretion was pervasive and surviving records were very selective and changed over time. Rumours and hearsay about leg-irons and manacles being used and patients sleeping in their own excrement on straw were rife.

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