A family asylum : a history of the private madhouse at Ticehurst in Sussex, 1792-1917
Despite a recent burgeoning of interest in the history of psychiatry and institutions for the insane, there has been no full-length study of the history of a private asylum in England. The archives of Ticehurst Asylum, which was run by four generations of the Newington family between 1792 and 1917, offer a rich source for such a study. This thesis locates the asylum in both its social and medical contexts. Initially founded as a small private madhouse, it took a wide range of clientele, including some paupers. The published medical writings of Thomas Mayo (1790-1871), who was visiting physician to Ticehurst from 1817-36, and a published account by John Perceval of his stay at Ticehurst in 1832 mean that there Is substantial evidence to place Ticehurst in the 1820s and 1830s within broader trends of social change, especially the influence of Evangelicalism on manners and morals, and the development of a diagnosis of 'moral insanity'. By the l840s, Ticehurst had become an elite asylum for predominantly upper-class patients. Increased documentation required by the 1845 Lunacy Act means that a fuller profile can be drawn of medical and moral treatment at the asylum, and it is argued that emphasis by historians on the importance of moral treatment has led to insufficient emphasis being paid to the influence of psycho-physiology on asylum doctors'practice, and Victorian medical therapeutics for mental disorders. Finally, the professional career of Herbert Francis Hayes Newington (1847-1917), who was president of the Medico-Psychological Association in 1889-90, provides the basis for a discussion of Ticehurst's location within the profession of psychiatry. This includes the conflict over the proposed closure, and eventual stricter regulation, of private asylums; and the difficulties faced by psychiatry in the absence of significant therapeutic advances in a period of rapid scientific development in other areas of medicine.