Domesticating Insanity
The Hospitals of the Epsom Cluster (1993-98)

“It is by domestic control, by surroundings of the daily life, by such details as the colouring of walls, the patterns on floorcloth, the furniture and decoration of rooms, by the influence of pictures, birds and draperies, the judicious use of different kinds of clothing, suitable occupation and diversions and generally by moulding and controlling the life of the lunatic, the psychologist hopes to reach, capture and re-educate the truant mind and perhaps reseat the dethroned intelligent will of his patient.” Mortimer Granville in The Lancet 1877.

Before the end of the twentieth century ended, a chapter in the history of care for the mentally ill came to a close. Attitudes to the treatment of the mentally ill have changed since the Victorian ideas of moral management. The large and self-sufficient asylum complexes descending from that time are giving way to community integrated care. By the year 2000, 98 out of a total of 121 large mental hospitals had closed and with them disappeared all trace of a uniquely English utopian idea.

“By controlling the lunatic’s environment down to the last detail, doctors and administrators hoped to make the new public asylums instruments as well as places of therapy; the building itself was a “special apparatus for the cure of lunacy”

This project aimed to record such details

45 images - a selection shown here