Burgh Castle Almanac scopes Waveney Valley Sculpture Trail

On 7th May our regular Tuesday meeting travelled to the site of this year’s Waveney Valley Sculpture Trail at Raveningham, where we will be showing an installation that is also a den, and maybe a teepee, or a bender, or a tent, or a dome. Sketch by Robert Fairclough, photos by Tod Sullivan and Louise Fowden.



This blog appears on the excellent Living With Mental Health website here.

57070862_10158290286863356_6561600578105901056_n.jpgHey Everyone, hope this finds you all well. Well this blog is to share with you, not only my mental health, but also my physical health. I have had a condition called M.E. since the age of 15. A brief description of this condition is that causes extreme fatigue in all your muscles, and makes you want to sleep a lot! It can affect your joints quite a lot too.

So i am a member of the Burgh Castle Almanac group, and we all went on the Angles Way walk, which is 4.5 miles long. well for most this is a mission, but for someone with M.E., it can be very daunting and exhausting experience. But i am very happy to say, I did it !!! ok i’ve been resting every since, but the achievement of doing it was well worth it.

When i found out we were doing the walk, i dreaded it. The thought of walking that far made me feel anxious, and i wanted to pull out quite a few times, due to the fear of failing to complete it. But with encouragement, and a stern talking to myself, I did it, and best of all, as i have said earlier, I completed it. I think our biggest obstacle in life is ourselves. We talk ourselves out of so many good things, that we miss, what is, and can be a very uplifting experience, whatever level of fitness or mental capability we are. I think pushing ourselves to what we think is our limit, will surprise us all, when we realize, that that limit, is actually limitless!!!

So i have mentioned in a couple of blogs, what i get up to in the Burgh Castle Almanac group, well the update of what we have been up to is thus. We have had a small exhibition at the Great Yarmouth Time and Tide museum, which is well worth a visit if you have never been, where we displayed our artwork and items that we have found on our walks around Burgh Castle. Items such as pottery and an old coin. The coin was an old Roman coin with an inscription on which had been translated to say, ‘The return of Happy times’ The art work was made by using a pin hole camera, which gave great results and was very interesting to do. Other artwork included, a drawing and photos which we had taken and adapted through a app on the computer.

Once the exhibition was taken down, we were told that while it was up, the museum had had 2395 people through the door, looking at all the exhibits, including ours. This has made me feel very proud of our group, and all that we have achieved throughout the year.

I am having ups and downs with my mental and physical well being, but achieving something like all this, above, makes it easier to like myself just that little bit more. I can actually say now, i did that, and im dam well proud of what i’ve achieved.

I encourage you all to try something that you thought was un-achievable before, because i can guarantee, you will succeed and feel great about it. It doesn’t matter how many times you try to do something, its the not giving up and finally succeeding that counts.

I wish you all happy mental and physical health, and keep up the good work!!!


All photos by Tod Sullivan


fixed point montage

7th March 2019

Exhibition about archaeology and mental health project opens today at Time and Tide Museum, Great Yarmouth

 The Return of Happy Times is a new exhibition in the Community Gallery at Time and Tide Museum.  Curated by the Burgh Castle Almanac group with artist Ian Brownlie, the exhibition runs until 1st April 2019.

 A Celebration Event for press and guests will be held at Time and Tide Museum from 10.30 – 12 on Tuesday 19th March. This will be an opportunity to meet group members and see the exhibition.

The title of the exhibition is taken from the inscription on a beautiful Roman coin found at Burgh Castle Roman Fort by group member Adrian Charlton during one of our monthly walks. The coin is shown in the exhibition.

The Return of Happy Times is funded by a grant from the Arts Project Fund at Norfolk County Council.

Burgh Castle Almanac is an archaeology, creativity and wellbeing programme based at Burgh Castle Roman Fort and Time and Tide Museum. Once a month a group of local people who live with mental health problems walk around the Roman Fort making a photographic record of the changing seasons. Sometimes the group is accompanied by archaeologists, artists, musicians and naturalists to explore the landscape in different ways. A fortnight later the group gathers at Time and Tide Museum to make art reflecting on their experiences. The project began in May 2018 and continues until May 2020.

The exhibition features archaeology, art, photography and a short film created with BBC Voices.

Burgh Castle Almanac is run by the Restoration Trust. It is part of Water, Mills and Marshes, a £4.5 million programme supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund that focuses on the people, communities and heritage of the Broads National Park.

Norfolk Archaeological Trust owns Burgh Castle Roman Fort and leads the project. The Trust works with local communities to save Norfolk’s irreplaceable historic sites and to share them with everyone.

Access Community Trust in Lowestoft works with participants on the project. AccessCT promotes social inclusion, preventing people from becoming excluded, relieving the needs of those who are excluded and assisting them to integrate into society.

The Restoration Trust’s culture therapy projects at Burgh Castle, Norfolk Record Office, Norwich Arts Centre and Stonehenge help people with serious mental health problems enjoy heritage, art and culture in a safe, effective way.

Time and Tide in Great Yarmouth is set in one of the UK’s best preserved Victorian herring curing works and tells the story of Great Yarmouth from its ice age origins to the present day. It is part of Norfolk Museums Service.

For more information about The Return of Happy Times and Burgh Castle Almanac contact Laura Drysdale: laura@restorationtrust.org.uk | 07740844883







A4 poster current (1) copy The Return of Happy Times celebrates Burgh Castle Almanac’s art, creative writing and archaeology. The title is taken from the inscription on a Roman coin that Adrian Charlton found in a molehill on the site in November, now accessioned by Norfolk Archaeological Trust.

We will be holding an Open Morning for the project’s friends and family at Time and Tide Museum on Tuesday 19th March, 10.30 – 12 am. Please do join us!


At Change Minds Norwich final celebration session on 29th November 2018 the group, including staff and volunteers, gave anonymous feedback about what they had enjoyed over the 15-session programme.

The comments clustered into three themes: archives, research, learning; creativity; the group, personal development. They illustrate how the elements of the programme intertwine to offer a satisfying experience for the whole group.

Here are some representative comments.


Being introduced to Norfolk Record Office has been fascinating – it was so interesting to see how it all works!

Visit to study centre at Museum – seeing the John Craske embroidery – made me research him further

 I never would have thought I would want to be sent to an asylum! (if Dr Hills was running it!!)

 Although I wasn’t part of the recorded oral history, the conversations around the session were so enlightening and open – I learnt a lot.

 Investigating my person Meeting new people Making my doll


Very interesting enjoyed the making side and the talks

 I really enjoyed the creative activities – the doll sewing and book binding inspired me to have another go at home. Very relaxing

 Learning new skills – bookbinding was particularly good.


Hugely inspiring Fired up “Recovered” Challenge/”Purpose”

Despite remaining silent most of the time, it’s been great to be part of a group

 Getting to know everyone a little more with every session; I have found this, the overarching aspect of the project, to have been particularly inspiring.

 I’m proud of myself for actually managing to attend the sessions and stay there and surprised myself by enjoying some of it despite the anxiety.

Members of the group are talking about Change Minds at a UEA Medical Humanities seminar on 13th February. Contact Laura Drysdale laura@restorationtrust.org.uk or Dr Harriet Cooper h.cooper@uea.ac.uk for more information.

Norfolk Lunatic Asylum in 1882

Richard Johnson’s research into records about St Andrew’s Hospital, or Norfolk Lunatic Asylum at Norfolk Record Office reveals information about life for patients and staff at the asylum in 1882. Change Minds, our archives and mental health project at Norfolk Record Office, explored the stories of people who were admitted to the asylum at this time through their case records. Richard’s research add substance to the connections made between treatment for mental illness then, and now.




Financial statement

Line of command (including staff structure and names of key staff)



Food facts

Dietary tables




Of 4220 patients admitted from 1850 to 31 December 1882, 732 (or 17% were re-admissions). Of 3505 who had left the asylum 1671 had ‘recovered’ (almost half), 205 were ‘relieved’, 1467 had died and 162 had ‘not improved’. The last number included transfers to other asylums.

Age on Admission

Male Female Total
5-7 1 1
15-20 2 4 6
20-50 43 58 111
50-60 16 21 37
60-70 7 10 17
70-80 6 14 20
80-90 2 2

Causes of Insanity (None this year for sunstroke or ‘immoral life’!)

Male Female Total
domestic troubles (including loss of relatives/friends) 2 6 8
adverse circumstances (including business, monetary troubles) 9 6 15
love affairs 1 1
religious excitement 1 1
intemperance (drink) 3 2 5
parturition and the puerperal state 10 10
fright 1 1
old age 5 1 6
other bodily diseases or disorders 6 5 11
previous attacks 17 26 43
hereditary influence ascertained 11 13 24
congenital defect 3 3 6
other ascertained causes (including epilepsy) 4 3 7
injury or accident 3 3
not known 10 30 40
Total 76 108 184


Male Female Total Causes of Death
5-7 1 1  

(i) Cerebral or Spinal disease (including General Paralysis and Exhaustion): 24


(ii) Thoraic disease (including pneumonia, heart disease): 23


(iii) Abdominal disease (including senile decay, chronic cystitis, liver disease): 21

15-20 1 1
20-50 13 15 28
50-60 5 5 10
60-70 7 5 12
70-80 5 7 12
80-90 3 1 4



Average weekly cost (per patient) of Maintenance, Medicine, Clothing and Care of Patients (year ending 31/12/1882)

cost % cost %
Provisions (including Garden & Farm) 4/11½d 56.0% Miscellaneous (eg, clothing to attendants, music, printing, books, stationery, funeral expenses, tobacco, snuff) 3¾d 3.5%
Salaries & Wages 1/7¾d 18.5% Furniture and Bedding 2¼d 2.1%
Clothing 10d 9.4% Wine, Spirits and Porter 1d 0.9%
Necessaries (eg, fuel, light, washing) 9½d 8.9% Surgery and Dispensary ¾d 0.7%

Sub-total: 8/10½

Less monies received for articles, goods and produce sold (exclusion of those consumed in the asylum): ½d

Total Average Weekly Cost per Head: 8/10d

Clerk and Steward’s Report Book (SAH144) – report for COV meeting 27/02/1882

‘I have analysed the accounts for 1882 and now lay before you’:

 Maintenance Account

Total Receipts: £18671 15/10d

Total Payments: £16150 13/6d

Balance: + £2521 2/4d

Building Account

Total Receipts: £3003 7/6d

Total Payments: £2773 5/3

Balance: + £230 2/3d




‘The Lunacy Act 1845 with the 1845 or 1853 County Asylums Act was the basis of lunacy law in England and Wales from 1845-90”



Chairman (7th Earl of Shaftesbury) and medical/legal commissioners

(report to the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State)



Chairman (Rev RG Lucas) & 14 members

(report to the County Quarter Sessions)




  • Medical Superintendent (Dr William Charles Hills)
  • 2 Resident Medical Officers (Thomas Compton and Alexander McWilliam)
  • Consulting Surgeon (Charles Williams)
  • Clerk & Steward, Clerk to the Committee of Visitors, Treasurer, Chaplain, Examiner of Accounts,
  •  Housekeeper (Main Building) (Mrs Arnoup), Head Female Attendant (Main Building) (Miss Nuti), Head Male Attendant (James Ramsey), and Housekeeper and Head Female Attendant (Auxiliary Building) (Miss Bertha Waters)


Storekeeper, Cellarman-Butcher, 18 Male and 25 Female Attendants, 3 Laundresses, 2 Cooks, Kitchen Maid, Gatekeeper, House Lad


Main Building and Auxiliary Building (for ‘chronic lunatics, imbeciles and idiots’)

Average monthly number of patients (1882): 292 male/414 female – Total 706 (of which 109 of each sex were in the Auxiliary Building)



Monthly Returns entered in the Medical Superintendent’s Journal (January to December 1882). The return was completed by the Medical Superintendent for production at the monthly meeting of the Committee of Visiting Justices.

Total remaining at last meeting (December 1881) – 289/402 (691). Average monthly population of asylum –  292/414 (706)

Date admit discharge died remaining including
on probation in auxiliary building
27 Jan 12/8 (20) 2/4 (6) 5/4 (9) 294/402 (696) 1/0 (1) 103/100 (203)
27 Feb 8/9 (17) 2/3 (5) 6/3 (9) 294/405 (699) 0/2 (2) 103/100 (203)
24 Mar 5/5 (10) 1/3 (4) 7/4 (11) 291/403 (694) 1/1 (2) 103/100 (203)
23 April 6/12 (18) 4/3 (7) 3/4 (7) 290/408 (698) 3/1 (4) 103/106 (209)
28 May 9/9 (18) 2/5 (7) 2/3 (5) 295/409 (704) 4/2 (6) 110/112 (222)
25 June 5/5 (10) 5/4 (9) 3/3 (6) 292/407 (699) 1/2 (3) 110/111 (221)
21 July 6/15 (21) 3/7 (10) 3/3 (6) 292/412 (710) 2/3 (5) 110/111 (221)
20 Aug 6/12 (18) 4/4 (8) 3/0 (3) 291/420 (711) 4/3 (7) 110/111 (221)
25 Sept 6/10 (16) 2/3 (5) 290/421 (711) 2/1 (3) 110/111 (221)
29 Oct 3/9 (12) 4/2 (6) 0/1 (1) 289/427 (716) 114/114 (228)
27 Nov 3/7 (10) 1/3 (4) 0/1 (1) 291/430 (721) 1/3 (4) 114/114 (228)
25 Dec 6/7 (13) 1/6 (7) 3/4 (7) 293/427 (720) 3/2 (5) 114/115 (229)



This is the only detailed description of the patients’ day in any of the Annual Reports up to at least 1890.

6am Male and female attendants rise. Between 25th September and 25th March, patients’ sleeping rooms are not unlocked until 6.30am to allow attendants time to light fires, clean hearths and otherwise prepare day-rooms for the comfortable reception of patients when they get up.
Patients are provided with conveniences for washing themselves. Practice is enforced or encouraged in those that are averse to cleanliness and performed for those who may be unable to attend to themselves.
8am Breakfast
8.30am (Sundays, Tuesday, Fridays) – religious service or prayer readings
9am Patients taken to their various occupations. In fine weather all patients capable of taking exercise are conducted to airing grounds and attendants encourage and take active part in their outdoor amusements
11am Patients who are engaged on any laborious work receive extra rations
12.30pm Patients return to wards
1pm Dinner. Care taken that every patient, whether up or in bed, receives due proportion of food. (By the 1860s a large proportion of patients were having dinner in the newly constructed dining-hall rather than on the wards).
2pm Male patients proceed to their various allotted employments
2.30pm Unemployed patients are again taken to the airing grounds (until 4pm in Winter, 5pm in Summer)
4pm Patients who are engaged on any laborious work receive extra rations
6pm Supper served in the patients’ respective day-rooms
Reading, music, card playing and after amusements are encouraged until bedtime. patients’ requests for books and writing paper complied with as far as practicable
7pm Patients to bed (winter)
8pm Patients to bed (summer)



Fruit and vegetables produced within the asylum (and which appear to have been used in-house rather than sold): broccoli, cucumbers, sea kale, asparagus, radishes, spinach, lettuces, broad beans, french beans, peas, carrots, parsnips, vegetable marrow, tomatoes, leeks, celery, cress, brussel sprouts, turnips, rhubarb, gooseberries, strawberries, cherries, apricots, peaches, apples, pears, raspberries and currants.

Patients were treated to roast beef and plum pudding for Christmas dinner. A Mr William Birkbeck also sent a yearly gift of oranges around Christmas time. Christmas dinner for the officers and servants of the asylum (and which usually took place in January) appears to have been goose and turkey.

In 1875 the Marquis of Townshend sent in 12 rabbits ‘which were much enjoyed’ by 40 patients.

A quarter cask of Marsala wine was reserved for consumption by sick patients.

Dr Hills instituted the practice of weighing patients regularly and particularly upon the days of admission and discharge. From patients’ details contained in a case book covering September 1881 to March 1883 the following, surprising,  statistics were obtained:

Of 75 patients whose before and after weights are recorded (and therefore excluding those patients who died in the asylum or whose details were carried over to other case books), 65 (or almost 87%) gained weight. Of these 37 gained over a stone! Ten gained over three stone (with the highest gain being 3 stone 10½ pounds). In total, 95% either gained weight or lost less than a stone – and one of those who lost weight had just given birth!

What the Commissioners in Lunacy said (from their reports 1861-1890)

April 1861: Dinner of beef dumplings, rice, potatoes and beer to each patient. All which we tasted and found particularly good.

April 1864: Solid dinners, including meat, are given every day, by reason of which very little ‘extra diet’ is necessary.

March 1869: Excellent beef, potatoes, rice, bread and beer.

August 1872: Good baked beef, potatoes, bread and beer.

March 1873: Food – good and abundant.

July 1875:  Dinner – quality good and quantity abundant. Mustard with the beef would not be amiss (!). We understand that the same dinner is served to those unfit to be present at the general dinner (mostly idiots and demented) with the exception of milk and water in lieu of beer.

February 1877: Baked beef, with vegetables and beer – several patients of whom we enquired expressed ‘entire satisfaction’

April 1880: Witnessed dinner on both days of inspection. Excellent quality, well cut up and appeared much liked. One male (only!) said he did not like not having beer with dinner  – we were informed by Dr Hills that he considered that the patients’ physical condition had improved since the use of malt liquors had been discontinued at dinner.

May 1882: potatoes small and many bad and uneatable, no other vegetable. Consider alternative until new potato crop available. Unsatisfactory distribution of meals – perhaps two serving wagons instead of one.

May 1883: Dinner substantial. Service improved by two wagons for plates (!).

October 1885: We saw dinner served on both days of our visit. Yesterday’s dinner was more popular than the meat pie today which was rejected by several patients.

November 1886: Meals could be better served to insure patients obtain their food fairly hot. Glad to hear is shortly to be effected.

November 1887: Some dissatisfaction with the soup dinners. We think that a meat dinner could be substituted or one of the two.

November 1888: Diet table at Auxiliary Building improved ‘only’ by substituting a fish dinner for one of the two soup dinners. Bread allowance too small for many and glad to hear that this is not strictly adhered to where more is asked for.

June 1889: There ought to be no difference in dietary between the Main Asylum and the Auxiliary Building. Usefully employed chronic patients require as good and generous a diet as the more recently admitted and acute cases.

March 1890: Dr Thomson has prepared a Dietary Table which is to be applied at both buildings but consideration has been postponed for a time by the Committee of Visitors. We fail to see any good reason for lower diet to patients lodged in the Auxiliary Building (most of whom are working).

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Funding for culture therapy in Norfolk…in the late 19th Century

This article by Richard Johnson arises from research into the history of Norfolk Lunatic Asylum in our Change Minds archives and mental health project at Norfolk Record Office.

Fascinating supplementary information about life in the asylum in 1882, Change Minds particular period of interest, appears in the next post.

The Johnson Bequest (and other Divertissements)[1]

‘In addition to, and in aid of, the more strictly medical treatment of our patients, we endeavour, as heretofore, as far as lies in our power to provide them with useful and appropriate occupations and amusements; in this object we have been much assisted by the liberality and kindness of the late Mr William Johnson…’[2]

In 1850 William Johnson made a will bequeathing the sum of £2,000 to ‘the lunatic asylum at Thorpe’.

Mr Johnson[3]

William Johnson was born in Wroxham, Norfolk in 1783/4. In 1851 he was residing at South Sea House, Threadneedle Street, London with his wife Anne. Johnson was then in receipt of an annuity and his wife was the housekeeper for South Sea House which had several other independent occupants. On 27 February 1855, Johnson died at his home, aged 71.[4]

The Will[5]

In his last will and testament made in 1850, William Johnson left various bequests to family and friends, as well as to the Norfolk County Asylum, the Institute for the Indigent Blind in Magdalen Street, Norwich, and the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. By far the largest lump sum was left to the asylum. An examination of the asylum’s Registers of Admissions indicates that Johnson was not a former patient but he obviously had a strong link to Norfolk, not only by birth but from the location of the various other recipients of his estate.

Although Johnson died in 1855 the bequest was only paid over in May 1870. The long delay was due to the opposition of the residuary legatee; in these circumstances, the £50 left to his executor, ‘for his trouble’, appears somewhat inadequate!Correspondence was exchanged between the executor’s solicitors and the Committee of Visitors (‘the Committee’) although no copies of the same appear in the Minutes of the Committee or the Clerk’s Letter Book for the period 1855-1870.

In March 1870 the Committee informed the Quarter Sessions of this exchange but, rather ungratefully, questioned the validity of accepting the legacy on the grounds that ‘a bequest to an institution supported by the rates was void’ and that there was ‘no person qualified to give a receipt for the money’. Notwithstanding the Committee’s reservations, upon the residuary legatee withdrawing his objections the sum of £2,000 was at last paid into the ‘Account of the County Treasurer’. The Committee was invited to make a proposal as to how the money should be applied and it suggested that the money should be invested and that the annual dividend or interest should be paid to the Committee for it to spend on the asylum ‘as it deemed reasonable’. This was accepted by the Court of Quarter Sessions and on 1 July the £2,000 was used to purchase the sum of £2,153 8/8 consols (government securities carrying an annual interest). Three members of the committee were later granted power of attorney to receive the dividends. So began the Johnson Fund.

Uses of the Fund (1870 to 1890)

Under Dr Hills (medical superintendent 1861-1887), the Johnson Fund was used to pay for specific items and also ‘sundries’ which Dr Hills usually brought to the attention of the Committee for approval. Dr Hills’ proposals were accepted without exception. This appears to be the practice under Dr Thomson (medical superintendent from 1887) although he was more in the habit of periodically requesting sums of £5 or £10 (and in at least one case £15) under the general heading of ‘Johnson Fund’ rather than giving a specific reason. Unfortunately, without the benefit of the Johnson Fund accounts (see below in ‘Accounts’) we must principally rely on the entries by Dr Hills in his journals.[6] It is not always clear when the Johnson Fund was activated – the details in this section are items/amusements which were definitely allocated to the Fund.

An important recipient of the Johnson Fund was the asylum band which consisted of male attendants who gave their meagre spare-time to practise and play for the patients. Replacement instruments (such as a bass violin, a drum, a clarinet and several cornets) and sheet music were all charged to the Johnson Fund. In December 1871 Dr Hills managed to get the Committee’s approval for a Christmas bonus of ten shillings a man,[7] to be paid from the Fund. This award appears to have been repeated annually; in 1873 the bandmaster received a whole pound for bestowing so much of his time ‘in improving the others’. In 1872 a second-hand violin was purchased for several male patients who were able to play.

The ‘first festivity’ planned to be given under the Fund was an excursion to Lowestoft in 1871 for 40 ‘convalescent and industrious’ patients (20 of each sex).[8] Unfortunately the railway company then refused to grant permission for the patients to embark and disembark from the train at the bridge opposite the asylum and the trip was cancelled until the next year when 50 patients were taken up the river by steam pleasure boat to Cantley. ‘Luncheon, dinner and tea were provided for them on board, which added considerably to the enjoyment of all’. Summer trips to the seaside (Cromer, Lowestoft or Yarmouth) became a regular annual feature. Patients would travel, usually in groups of about a dozen, by rail or by river steamer. In 1877 the trips to Yarmouth consisted of six groups with about a dozen patients each trip. A day’s outing on the river in ‘the steam boat’ was enjoyed by 70 patients together with the asylum band. On this occasion Dr Hills accompanied the party and so could ‘testify how much they appreciated it’.

The Commissioners in Lunacy noted that a portion of the bequest would be set aside for small advances to convalescent patients on leaving the asylum ‘such as Dr Hills determines desirable’. The first recorded of these was in October 1871. Jemima Moore was recommended for discharge but Dr Hills considered that she was still ‘delicate’ and would ‘necessarily miss the extra diet she has had here’. He applied for, and received, an allowance of four shillings a week for one month which he paid to Mrs Moore’s husband. The next month, ‘her wound not quite healed’, Dr Hills successfully obtained an extension of the allowance for another month. On payment of the allowance to her husband, Dr Hills learnt that Jemima was in ‘pretty good health’. He had intended to visit her but had been prohibited by the prevalence of smallpox in the Moore’s neighbourhood. In 1877 another female patient received three shillings a week during a two-month probation.[9] In 1882 Dr Hills obtained ‘another gratuity’ for ‘the patient who acted as a housemaid in the Auxiliary Building, the Committee having previously granted her £2 a year from the Johnson Fund’. Incidentally, this is the only reference to a ‘wage’ being paid to a patient that I have so far encountered in the records.

Lawn tennis was provided for the female patients on the grounds that it was a ‘good outdoor sport’, although Dr Hills appears to have meant it as a winter activity (purchased December/January and as ‘a serviceable pastime at this season’). Minor amounts were also spent on various publications, including bound copies of the Illustrated London News and ‘suitable’ books.  In 1871 Dr Hills purchased more Sunday periodicals, there being only two pamphlets per ward. Apparently Sunday was the only day when the majority of the female patients were ‘disposed to read’.

Board games were also popular and the Fund enabled draught and cribbage boards to be replaced. In 1873 the bagatelle table was re-covered and its balls re-turned. Dr Thomson obtained a second-hand billiard table for ‘not more than £30’ in 1888. Aviaries and birds were purchased for the wards, day-rooms and airing courts; an aviary on the female side cost £20. The ‘various pets in them afford much amusement’. Shrubs, seeds and bulbs were bought for the patients’ gardens and airing courts.

On several occasions the Johnson Fund enabled the services of entertainers who ‘amused and astonished’ the patients in the hall. These divertissements included ‘comic singers’, magic lantern shows or ‘dissolving views’ and on several occasions a ventriloquist. About two hundred and eighty patients attended a mixed entertainment of comic singing and ventriloquisms in March 1873. ‘Everyone was highly amused.’

Other articles purchased with Johnson Fund money were invalid chairs to wheel ‘helpless’ patients from the wards to the day-rooms. A couple of times small stoves were purchased for the conservatories, not for the patients but, ‘in order to preserve the plants during the winter nights’! In justification, Dr Hills claimed that in one year the asylum had ‘lost ‘800 plants in one night’!

In addition to the trips to the seaside, in 1873 Dr Hills reported that the Fund had enabled many patients to benefit from ‘entertainments at Norwich’ but there do not appear to be any specific details in his journals (but see ‘Other Amusements’ below).

The Commissioners in Lunacy ‘distinctly understood’ that the bequest money ‘would be in addition to any sums ordinarily expended in such directions hitherto’. This would appear to have been the case as the major annual entertainments: the summer ‘frolic’, the harvest treat and Christmas were funded from other sources.

Bazaar Fund[10]

The Bazaar Fund contained money obtained from the selling of ‘fancy work’ (such as crochet lace, antimacassars and patchwork counterpanes) produced in the asylum by the patients, off-set against money paid to tradesmen for materials. The articles purchased and amusements paid for were similar in nature to those provided by the Johnson Fund and included day-trips to Cromer and Yarmouth in 1886. The Bazaar Fund was likewise used to replace musical instruments for the band, such as a cornet (again!) and a baritone saxophone. In 1875 the Bazaar Fund even paid for a grand piano;Dr Hills got it cheap at a house sale. In addition gardens, aviaries and day-rooms were stocked with flowers, plants (including two lycopodium or fancy moss), birds (canaries and linnets) and vases/plaster of Paris images.

The year 1880 must have been especially festive with almost a pound (!) being spent on Christmas decorations and £2 13 shillings and threepence spent on the hire of ‘wigs, curtains and dresses for private theatricals’ In 1887, second-hand billiard balls were purchased (hopefully the billiard table purchased in 1888 from the Johnson Fund was a replacement and not an original purchase!) together with more Christmas decorations.

Other Amusements

As mentioned above it is difficult to categorically assign funding of amusements etc to a specific source and the following may or may not have been funded by either the Johnson or the Bazaar Funds, but it seems perverse not to consider the general efforts made by the asylum to counter boredom and to stimulate the patients. I think the details are interesting in their own right.

Cricket was played at the asylum but descriptions of matches rarely appear in Dr Hill’s journal and not at all in the 1880s. In his 1888 Annual Report Dr Thomson states that 20 cricket matches were played in summer and it is not unlikely that this was a continuation from Dr Hills’ superintendence. Several cricket matches were even the subject of local newspaper reports. One in June 1883[11] saw the asylum beat Postwick 114 runs to 71. The cricketers all appear to have been e selected from the medical officers (including Dr Hills) and the male attendants. Apparently ‘the weather was charming and there were a number of spectators and patients, who thoroughly appreciated the game. The asylum band was in attendance and played selections during the afternoon’. Perhaps Dr Hills’ reticence in reporting the matches was his own low innings rate![12]

Dr Thomson also reported that 10 ‘football (Association)’ were played in the winter. Other outdoor amusements consisted of trips by steamboat, in addition to those paid for by the Johnson Fund, and various picnics or frolics such as the annual summer or harvest treats.

Patients were, of course, free to roam the airing grounds and funds were regularly spent to beautify these areas, whether on planting lime trees to provide much needed shade on the female wing or on shrubs and flower beds. In their inspections during the 1880s, the Commissioners in Lunacy were particularly taken with the high standard:  ‘beautifully laid out’, ‘the cheerfulness of airing courts which are so laid out and planted that this would hardly be mis-described as gardens’, ‘much cheerfulness and are beyond praise in regard to their laying out and the brightness of the flower beds’. Even this fulsome praise did not satisfy the asylum authorities as in 1884, by the ‘kindness of a member of the Committee’, the airing courts had been ‘prettily laid out under the direction of a landscape gardener of some eminence’.

Some patients were permitted to walk in the countryside outside the asylum walls, with or without attendants. By 1881 groups as large as 50 were taken daily on walks in the countryside and steps were being taken to extend walkways so as to increase the number of patients able to benefit from this exercise. A sailing or rowing boat was also available at various times during this period. Sadly the sailing boat was suffering from dry-rot in 1872 and although the repair was paid for it was not used for three years due to the failure to secure the service of an attendant who could manage it. Dr Hills gave up and acquired a large rowing boat ‘which would be more useful as the patients could be frequently taken out and thus their outings could be varied’.

Day-rooms were available for wet or winter days. Board games and periodicals were available (see above). There appears to have been a regular fortnightly ‘musical event’ as one of the reasons for the bandsmen’s annual bonus was that the attendants’ band was a saving, ‘as formerly musicians were hired once a fortnight’. Given that, the bonus of ten shillings a year seems less than generous!

‘Treats’ were occasionally arranged by local dignitaries. Mr Colman MP granted permission for 60 patients (plus attendants) to picnic on the Whitlingham Estate. Mr Longe gave 16 female patients ‘an excellent tea’ in Spixworth Park. By the kindness of Mr Coleman (a linen draper) upwards of 40 patients had free entrance to ‘Cinderella’ and enjoyed it ‘immensely’.

Evening entertainments came from a variety of sources and usually took place in the hall, among them ventriloquism acts, with or without ‘comic singers’. Hand bell ringers were prevalent; Heigham Hand Bell Ringers paid a number of visits. Magic lantern or ‘dissolving views’ and musical entertainments were also popular. A shadow entertainment of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ which ‘being in every way novel, was much appreciated’. Perhaps more in Dr Hills’ line, the Orpheus Quartet gave a voluntary concert which contained ‘songs of much higher class than we have hitherto had’ but that does not appear to have dampened the patients’ enjoyment. Even the army paid a visit – in 1882 the 7th Dragoon Guards ‘troupe’ gave a ‘Christy Minstrels’ (black-and-white minstrels) entertainment: ‘the undivided attention of the patients testified to show approbation of the performance which was certainly excellent in all parts’. To complete this ‘diversity’ a ‘Japanese’ troupe visited twice. The introduction of theatricals in 1875 (and hence the later recorded hire of wigs and dresses) ‘supplied the patients with a novel and fruitful source of hilarity and enjoyment’.

However, not all performances were of a high calibre. Dr Hills was not impressed by Mr Jones, a ventriloquist, ‘he was not the adept his testimonials made him, so it was rather a disappointment’. To be fair, that is the only occasion when the entertainment did not meet expectations.

Recorded trips into Norwich included two sets of patients (13 each time) visiting an entertainment by the Christy Minstrels at the Victoria Hall.

More amusements, or any rate diversions, were the Sunday services (morning and evening) and one or two prayer readings during the week taken by the Church of England Chaplain.[13] Lunacy legislation did provide for non-conformists to be attended by their own minister, subject to medical approval. Initial perusal of the casebooks confirms that non-CoE ???? something missing????were not uncommon but there does not appear to be any record of anyone taking advantage of this. The Commissioners of Lunacy in their report of 1889 noted that ‘it is a singular fact that there is not…a single patient professing the Roman Catholic faith’.

The Accounts

During the superintendence of Dr Hills, the Johnson Fund was audited every January, together with the accounts of the Bazaar Fund. There is no reference to such an audit in Dr Thomson’s entries for 1888 and 1889, but in 1890 accounts of both funds were submitted for inspection. Subsequently the Johnson Fund was included in the general accounts of the asylum.

There is no reference to the Johnson Fund in the Accounts of the Treasurer in the Annual Reports up to 1888 which implies that it had a separate internal record book (as did the Bazaar Fund). Unfortunately this book has not been retained, and is not included in other account books. In 1888 the accounts have a receipt under the Johnson Fund for £3 for ‘cricket lunches’, but details of income and expenditure do not appear until the report for the year ending 31 March 1890. The average annual sum received from dividends on consols on which the Fund was invested (to the accounts for the year ending 31 March 1915) was £54, 7 shillings and a halfpenny. The average sum for payments for ‘sports and amusements’ was £53, 7 shillings and a halfpenny; which at least implies disciplined budgeting. The balance remaining in the Fund in 1915 was £33, 16 shillings and seven pence.

The Annual Report for 1920 includes financial statements for 1 April 1915 to 31 March 1921. For much of that period (1915-1919) the asylum was a war hospital. The Johnson Fund is not specifically mentioned but could be included in ‘other receipts’ which are all credited to the war hospital (even though columns for the asylum are present and are used for other sums).

The next year (ending 31 March 1922) the Johnson Fund appears once more: a total income of £68, 7 shillings and eleven pence (dividends: £53, 1 shilling and eightpence, other receipts: £15, 6 shillings and threepence), and expenditure on ‘amusements’ was £62, 15 shillings and twopence. This is the last mention of the Johnson Fund; I have checked the Annual Reports up to the 1967 (the most recent held by the NRO). Possibly the fund is included in ‘other receipts’.

In 1896 the external auditors of the asylum accounts, Eastern and Midland Counties Audit District, advised that the investment of the fund should be in the name of Norfolk County Council – the local authority then providing the asylum. Presumably this was acted upon and the Johnson Fund was incorporated into the council’s accounts. A perusal of the abstract Accounts of the County Treasurer has yielded up no specific mention of the fund which is particularly surprising for the initial deposit in 1870 as £2,000 was no small sum and dwarfs other income amounts.

Where is the Johnson Fund?


Norfolk Record Office

Annual Reports: SAH28 (1844-76), SAH29 (1877-86), SAH30 (1887-96), SAH31 (1897-1905), SAH32 (1906-21), SAH33 (1922-33), SAH34 (1934-48), SAH35 (1949-63), SAH36 (1967).

Medical Superintendent’s Journal: SAH131 (1861-78), SAH132 (1878-88).

Minutes of the Committee of Visiting Magistrates: SAH10 (1868-75), SAH11 (1876-90), SAH12 (1890-98), SAH13 (1898-1906), SAH14 (1906-14).

Clerk’s Letter Book: SAH38 (1853-75).

Admissions Registers: SAH172-175 (1814-61).

Workroom and Bazaar Accounts: SAH483 (1853-98).

County Treasurer’s Department – printed abstracts of accounts: C/T 1/6-8 (1863-95).

Baptismal records (Wroxham).

http://www.findmypast.co.uk (thanks to Norfolk Libraries)

In particular: Census Records, births and marriages).

British Newspapers Archive (thanks to Norfolk Libraries)

London Evening Standard (01/03/1855), Shipping Mercantile Gazette (01/03/1855), Norfolk News (10/03/1855)

Norwich Mercury (23/09/1882), (09/06/1883)

Public Record Office – The National Archives

Last Will and Testament of William Johnson [(c) Crown Copyright, Catalogue ref: prob 11/2208]

[1]   This piece started off as a specific study of the Johnson Bequest but subsequently turned into a general overview of amusements, entertainments etc within the asylum between 1870 and about 1890.

[2]   Dr Hills 1871 – SAH28 Annual Reports (1844-76)

[3]   1851 Census. Johnson was 71 in February 1855 so would have been born between March 1783 and February 1784. A search of the Wroxham baptismal records suggests William could have been the child baptised on 14 December 1783 and the son of James and Elizabeth Johnson. Anne was born c1790 in Eastborne, Sussex.

[4]   London Evening Standard (01/03/1855), Shipping Mercantile Gazette (01/03/1855), Norfolk News (10/03/1855)

[5]   Last Will and Testament (with codicil) of William Johnson (1850)

[6]   Medical Superintendent’s Journals SAH131 (1861-78), SAH132 (1878-88)

[7]   Just under a week’s wage for a standard male attendant.

[8]   Report of the Commissioners in Lunacy (1871) [SAH28 Annual Reports (1844-76)]

[9]   Each month a few patients were permitted to return home for a trial period (usually one or two months). The qualification for this appears to have been based on their general health and the capacity and willingness of family or friends to look after them. It seems that they were ‘supervised’ to some extent by the local ‘medical man’ as reports were made back to Dr Hills.

[10]  Workroom and Bazaar Accounts SAH483 (1853-1898)

[11]  Norwich Mercury 09/06/1883

[12]  2 in the June 1883 match and 4 in a match in September 1882 (Norwich Mercury 23/09/1882).

[13]  About 60-65% of the patients attended Sunday service, and about 35-45% attended the prayer readings (1882-3) [SAH11 Minutes of the Committee (1876-90)]