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RESEARCH - BRISTOL LUNATIC ASYLUM

During the research for The Cradle Breaker, the first full-length novel in my Convenient Women Collection, I stumbled across the wonderful website for the Glenside Museum

The Glenside Hospital, now used by The University of the West of England, was once the Bristol Lunatic Asylum. Opened in 1861, it was a place where the pauper insane were sent for rest and recovery (if that were possible). This asylum briefly features in my novel, although I have used artistic licence when describing it. 

The website proved to be a great source of knowledge about everyday life in a Victorian Asylum. Although at the time of this writing there are quite a few webpages that are blank, the Articles page is fantastic. Filled with blog posts, it covers aspects such as the notorious padded cells, children in asylums, what patients would have eaten, and personal letters written by patients, plus so much more.

And it doesn’t just cover the Victorian era. The information continues through to 1994 when the hospital was closed. In the Oral History section you will find voice recordings from members of staff and patients from the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s about what it was like to work and live in the hospital.

If you live close to Bristol or are passing through the area, why not visit? Founded by Dr Donal Early, a consultant psychiatrist at Glenside Hospital, the saved objects and documents were first displayed on the balcony in the hospital’s dining room, but after the hospital’s closure, the museum was moved to the once-derelict hospital chapel, where it remains to this day. Opening times are 10am – 12.30pm Wednesdays and Saturdays.

About the author

Delphine Woods

Delphine Woods

Delphine Woods is an author who loves to write historical mysteries and thrillers. 

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