Life in Broadmoor hospital revealed

LIFE at Britain’s most well-known psychiatric unit has been revealed.

Archives from the Victorian era at Broadmoor Hospital are for the first time available to researchers

The archives tell the stories of some of the Berkshire hospital’s most well-known Victorian patients and portray past life in England’s first “Criminal Lunatic Asylum” which opened on May 27, 1863.

Only patient records from the Victorian era are accessible.

Patient stories include that of Henry Dodwell, a Brighton chaplain who in 1875 attacked a judge, but protested his innocence. He had support from the public and his case was taken up by newspapers and MPs.

He later tried to kill a doctor at Broadmoor and stayed in the hospital until he died in 1911.

Broadmoor, in Crowthorne, still operates as a secure psychiatric unit.

Dr Peter Durrant, county archivist of Berkshire, said: “Broadmoor is one of those collections where every page tells a story. There are many sad tales of lives destroyed by mental illness, of families broken up and never mended, of fear and paranoia.

“It is not history for the fainthearted. Yet at Broadmoor’s heart is a community of patients and staff, and it is the history of this community that is now available to all.”

The archives are at Berkshire Record Office in Reading.

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