Did your ancestor have a connection with Bexley Asylum in Kent, not far from London? Find staff, patients and contractors who worked and lived in the asylum between 1901 and 1939. Discover details from the pages of the asylum’s minute books.
Each record is a transcript from the original source. The amount of information varies but you can find out the following about your ancestor:
Date of entry in the Minute Book
Summary of the entry (includes details of release and temporary release of patients, hiring and promotion of staff and tradesmen’s contracts)
Bexley Asylum, opened in 1898, was London’s 7th asylum. Built on 750 acres of land next to Dartford Heath, the so-called Heath Asylum housed 2,544 patients at its occupancy peak in 1915. None were there on a voluntary basis.
A typical ward had 60 beds – by 1939 the hospital had 18 wards and 3 external villas. In the main building there was a recreation room which held weekly dances, various theatrical performances and could also be used as a cinema. The kitchens catered for patients and staff mostly using produce from the farm that was attached to the asylum. There was also a laundry room, a blacksmith’s forge and operating theatre, which was in use until 1939.
In the early days of the asylum, patients would mainly be put to work on the maintenance and upkeep of the institution as part of their treatment. As ideas about treatments, therapy and possible cures developed throughout the 20th century, the patients would be given an increasingly broad range of activities, including working on the farm, in the gardens, the laundry or in the smiths.
With the movement towards caring for patients within their communities, numbers in the hospital dwindled. The hospital closed in 2001.
The minute books cover a wide range of material. Patients can be seen going on temporary release before their eventual discharge. There are several records showing performers booked for various entertainments and in the early 1900s a John Abey came in regularly to wind the clocks.
These records were transcribed by the North West Kent Family History Society.