BRIEF HISTORY OF THE HOSPITAL
In 1794 limited asylum accommodation was established at the Leicester Royal Infirmary. The asylum's first physician, Dr Thomas Arnold had established his own private asylum in Belgrave Gate, Leicester (Belle Grove Asylum) and until 1852 there was a private madhouse in Wigston Magna. Poorhouses and later workhouses also received pauper lunatics, a practice which continued even after the opening of county asylums; they did not take proper responsibility for them until after 1874.
The poor conditions in these early asylums and the inadequacies of the system finally led to proposals in 1834 for the establishment of a county asylum. The building was completed in 1837 near the racecourse on Occupation Road, which became Victoria Road in 1867 and University Road in 1929. The first patients were transferred in May 1837.
The finance and management of the Leicestershire Lunatic Asylum was shared between a joint visiting committee of representatives from the County and the Charity set up in 1834. The Regulations of 1837 divided the inmates into four classes. Class I included Pauper, Vagrant, Criminal and Dangerous Lunatics who were sent to the asylum by order of the Justices. Class 2 was for the same group, but paupers from other counties. Class 3 included non-paupers aided by the Charity and Class 4 was for private, self-financing patients. In 1849 patients were taken from Rutland and the name was changed to the Leicestershire and Rutland Lunatic Asylum. By the 1860s however there were overcrowding problems and the Leicester Corporation decided to build its own asylum at Humberstone. The Leicester Borough Lunatic Asylum (later known as the Towers Hospital) was opened in 1869.
The transfer of Borough patients from the County Asylum reduced the need for expansion at the Victoria Road site, but by the end of the nineteenth century overcrowding was once more a serious difficulty. In 1899 a suitable site for a new institution was found at Narborough and the land was purchased in 1900. After considerable wrangling over costs, the building work finally commenced in 1904. The architects were Everard and Pick of Leicester and the builders William Moss and Sons of Loughborough.
The official opening of the new asylum took place on 1st October 1907, but it was not ready for patients until the spring. The pauper patients were transferred in February and March 1908, with the charity patients following in August and September. The old asylum remained empty until 1914 when, on the outbreak of the first World War, it became an army medical hospital. The 5th Northern General Hospital, as it was known, closed in 1919 and the following year the building was purchased by Thomas Fielding Johnson, who presented it for use as a University College. The college opened in 1921 and the former asylum is now the Fielding Johnson building on the present University Campus.
In 1914 the name of the new asylum at Narborough was modernised to become the Leicestershire and Rutland Mental Hospital and in 1939 it was changed again to Carlton Hayes Hospital. The hospital continued to be administered by the two County Councils and the Charity until it became part of the National Health Service in 1948.
Carlton Hayes Hospital is due to close down on 1st March 1996 as a result of the policy of caring for mental patients in the community. Patients will begin to leave in Autumn 1995 and the site is gradually being taken over by the Alliance and Leicester Building Society.
For a detailed history of the old asylum, see H.G. Orme & W.H. Brock Leicestershire's Lunatics: the institutional care of Leicestershire's Lunatics during the nineteenth century (Leicestershire Museums, 1987).
NOTES ON THE RECORDS
The records of the asylum have in general survived remarkably well, although more on the medical and patients' side than on the administrative side. In most cases the documentation is extremely detailed and its importance to medical, social and family historians cannot be over-estimated.
Only a small number of minutes and accounts are extant from the nineteenth century and the main sources for the administrative history of the asylum are the full sets of Annual Reports, 1849 - 1959 and Medical Superintendents' Journals, 1853 - 1930. There are also staff records dating from 1849.
It is the patients' records however which are the most complete, with a few notable exceptions. The admission and discharge registers date from the opening of the asylum in 1837 and the fine series of detailed Case Books dates from 1845. The Case Book for the first 575 patients to be admitted, 1837 - 1844, is unfortunately missing, although a Charity Case Book begins in 1839. There is also a good sequence, with some gaps, of reception orders and medical certificates, 1851 - 1930.
Changes in legislation often resulted in changes in record-keeping practices, most notably in 1906 and 1930. Consequently the twentieth century documentation becomes more complicated, with the introduction of civil, medical and patients' registers and the replacement of the old Case Books by Case Files.
The collection also contains records of the building and opening of the new asylum at Narborough, including plans and a fine set of photographs taken by the Medical Superintendent, Dr Rothsay Stewart.
A general 'cut-off' date of 1930 was applied for this first deposit, although some modern files, out-patients clinic records and other more recent items were taken. A summary list of records (excluding case files) retained at the hospital was made in January 1994 and it is anticipated that these will be deposited in advance of the hospital's final closure in 1996.
Various smaller deposits of records were received between 1992 and 1994, after the initial cataloguing had been completed, and these have been incorporated into the accession. This has necessitated some re-numbering of documents, with the addition of letters and sub-numbers.
Certain records, in particular those of patients, are subject to closure periods under the Public Records Act 1958. Full details are given at the start of the catalogue and all items affected are clearly marked.
TRACING A PATIENT
Owing to the complicated nature of the patients' records (the numbering and cross-referencing systems and the gaps in and variation of records at certain dates), it is not possible to cover every possibility in the following guidelines; however it is hoped that they will be of help in the most typical enquiries. See also the explanatory notes in the catalogue.
1. Four indexes to patients, c.1855 - c.1945, exist (ref. DE 3533/141-144), but these are of limited use as the reference numbers given only correspond to a few of the surviving registers (see notes in catalogue). They may be useful if there is no idea of the dates a patient was in the asylum or for general searches for a particular surname.
2. The most common way of discovering that a person was a patient is through a death certificate or burial register recording the place of death as the County Asylum. There are various registers which record deaths, especially DE 3533/152 and 179-181, covering the period 1890 - 1949; these give the date of admission, leading directly to the records mentioned below.
3. The most complete listings of patients may be found in the registers DE 3533/145-146, which record admissions, discharges and deaths in chronological order from 1837 to 1947. It is therefore possible to work back from the date of death or discharge to find the date of admission. These cross-refer to the Case Books, DE 3533/185-203 (1845-1900), described below, and the Civil Registers, DE 3533/260-265 (1907-1947).
4. The Case Books, DE 3533/185-224, record the fullest details of patients and are arranged numerically and chronologically by date of admission.
5. Much information is also given in the reception orders/medical certificates, DE 3533/225-246, arranged in yearly bundles in order of admission, 1851-1930 (some gaps).
6. The above records contain virtually all the available information on a particular patient. Depending on dates, there are other records in the collection which may be of help e.g. registers of patients, c.1920-1960, records of private and charity patients, letter books, other discharge registers and medical journals and registers. The best course is to scan the catalogue for any records for the dates during which the patient was in the asylum.