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The Lawn Hospital

The Hospital was founded in 1819 as the Lincoln Lunatic Asylum, with the costs raised by subscription. The appeal was organised by a committee presided over by Lord Yarborough and including the Bishop of Lincoln, Earl Brownlow and three MPs. Subscribers were predominantly from the nobility, gentry and clergy of the county.

The original constitution stated that patients were to be treated “with all the tenderness and indulgence compatible with the steady and effectual government of them and every occupation which may divert the mind, win the attention and awaken the affections be cheerfully and readily promoted.” Patients were to be “persons of the superior class who shall contribute to the general expense of the establishment according to their ability and persons in more limited circumstances whose payments shall be relieved, when opportunity may offer, out of the disposable funds of the charity.”

The hospital is significant in the history of the treatment of mental illness for the pioneering work carried out on the abolition of mechanical restraint and isolation, particularly under Dr EP Charlesworth (1783-1853) and Dr RG Hill (1811-1878). Their enlightened methods were gradually adopted by other asylums. Early work was also carried out on the classification of patients according to the state of their health. Entertainment formed an important aspect of treatment, and board games and popular magazines were purchased for use by the patients.

Following the opening of the County Lunatic Asylum at Bracebridge Heath in 1852, there was an increasing emphasis on fee-paying patients. The Asylum was re-named as The Lawn Hospital for the Insane in 1885. The Hospital was taken over by the National Health Service in 1948 and was finally closed in 1985.

Occupations of patients recorded in the early 20th century include Farmer, Mechanical Engineer, Solicitor’s Daughter, Milliner, Tea Merchant, Corn Merchant, School Teacher. Apprentice, Farmer’s Wife, Commercial Traveller, Daughter of Potato Merchant, Medical Practitioner, Registrar of County Court, Shop Assistant, Housewife, Widow, Timber Merchant, Retired Farmer and Clergyman’s Daughter.

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Last updated: 15 August 2014

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