By Mark Stevens
Broadmoor printed takes the reader on a trip around Victorian England�s felony Lunatic Asylum. Recounting own tales from the place precise crime meets psychological affliction, the publication takes in gunshot at Queen Victoria and poison in Brighton, in addition to the artist Richard Dadd and lexicographer William Chester Minor. A sanatorium, no longer a jail: stories of madness, homicide and extra.
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Extra info for Broadmoor Revealed: Victorian Crime and the Lunatic Asylum
As far as the doctors were concerned, these causes then manifested themselves in defined diseases, each of which might be inferred by observing the patient’s habits, as well as through interview. These diseases are still recognisable today: mania, melancholia, dementia. Monomania was an obsession with a single subject; amentia, absence of mind, would be described as learning disabilities, now recognised as something completely separate from mental illness. To these cognitive deficiencies, the Victorians added the concept of moral insanity.
Blocks 1 and 6 were known as the ‘back’ or ‘refractory’ blocks, for dangerous and violent patients. The men here had their own separate airing courts, bricked in and hidden from the rest of the site, and the attendants who tended them wore uniforms with padding and with hidden buttons. The name ‘back Blocks’ came from their position, which was on the north side of the site and away from the beautiful views across the southern Terrace. The back Blocks contrasted with those nearest to the terrace and the wider grounds, which were Blocks 5 and 2.
He also suffered from ill health. He was attacked by a patient called John Hughes in the Asylum Chapel in March 1866, struck a severe blow on the temple by a large stone, and never fully recovered. Hughes, a despoiler of holy images in a north London church, stated that Meyer had accused him of ‘murdering the Queen of Heaven’, and that he was obliged to avenge that insult. He was put in solitary confinement for his trouble. Attacks would form a part of each of the first three Medical Superintendents’ careers, and were an occupational hazard.
Broadmoor Revealed: Victorian Crime and the Lunatic Asylum by Mark Stevens