Broadmoor revealed: then and now

Another Wellcome Trust funded project, access to the historic archives of Broadmoor Hospital in Berkshire, England, reveals life in a 19th century British Lunatic Asylum.

Broadmoor opened in 1863 and was built specifically to provide refuge for criminally insane ‘lunatics’ of both sexes and of a range of ages.

While most of the Victorian asylums were closed down at the end of the 20th century, Broadmoor still retains its imposing red-brick Victorian edifice and has housed some of Britain’s most notorious murderers. These aspects have lent it a macabre reputation particularly in the tabloid press.

However, the Berkshire Record Office website reveals what life was like in Victorian Broadmoor, showing that as in the Indian asylums, a regime of diet and occupation was the main treatment available to patients.

The site also links to a free eBook, Broadmoor Revealed, and an excellent podcast by the book’s author and archivist Mark Stevens.

If you are like me and curious to know what life is like in Broadmoor today, then this NHS film promotes a wider understanding of its work.

The Hospital has its 150th anniversary next year and is still working to dispel the myths and show that it is an institution whose work is about healthcare, not punishment.