There’s been a fair few “Reports” on on this place, very few with internal shots tho. So I thought it was high time I got myself down there and got some internals. I decided to do this properly, and got myself in contact with the Medical History Department at UEA Norwich University, to lay my hands on patient records, of which I’ve included a selection below.
It’s an amazing building, but you know that from everyone else’s reports...
Here’s the imposing entrance:
So, it’s 02:20am on a Sunday morning. I’m not out clubbing, nor am I curled up in my warm bed. I’m nursing a Relentless, pouring over asylum maps. This site neighbours a live, medium secure unit, housing ‘patients’ who are stepping down from Maximum secure units Rampton, and Broadmore. Our excellent tour guides for today have timed out entrance very carefully, around the shift patterns of the adjacent live unit.
The earliest recorded patient was William Sutton – Admitted 1st June 1814, for having epilepsy. He stayed here for nearly 22 years, before dying in a fit in February 1836.
Admitted: 15th December 1815
Official record states: “'Insanity come upon hir through her leding a bad course of life and disappointment of marriage with the man who she had a child by”
Literally as we were entering the building a security van cruised past. We couldn’t believe it, we weren’t even in! Unbelievably the driver was looking down, fiddling with the radio, or the heating. Too closer call, we were in full view of him.
Admitted: 23rd June 1815.
Official record states: “husband said that she had been low and tried to leave home day and night, when stopped she became very violent”
The inside was in complete darkness. Not only is EVERY window very well boarded, it is also the middle of the night. All of these shots are light painted, with my Canon struggling to find any focus points.
IT Server room, with Access Floor Removed:
Admited: 29th November 1814
Official Record states: “A herring fisherman; got into bad company, drank too much; has a bad temper”
Daniel Hart, only 23 years of age.
Admitted: 7th October 1815 by his own employee’s at the workhouse for “Rage”
Five months later on 22nd March 1816 Mr Dalrymple bleeds Daniel; and asks for Dr Digby's opinion who orders “continuous salt until he passes a motion”
Two days later on the 24th March Daniel dies.
You’ve got to love the unique architectural flourish that this asylum offers - Curved Corridors!
Admitted: 19th July 1814
Official Record states: “13th April 1816; 'appeared to be in a declining state' so Dr orders her to take some drops, summons Mr Dalrymple who also orders 1/2 pint port wine/ day + 30 drops/twice per day."
2 weeks later on 6th May, she dies.
Admitted: 9th June 1814
Official records state that he tried to escape over the wall within a month of incarceration.
The walls were made higher, and James was put on ‘Starvation treatment’ for the next 7 years until 18th August 1821 when “'Secker very ill Mr. Dalrymple bleed him - ordered him to have a blester put upon his stomick and to take a small dose of the salts every four hourses and a powder at bed time…”James died next day
Admitted: 29th March 1815
Reason: Lunatic Studying:
Official record states: “Insanity come on by studying and learning & Musick. He have been in this way 17 years. Married”
He was incarcerated for 10 years in a decining state until he died.
Admitted: April Fools Day 1815
Reason: Religiously insane
Official Record States: “Insanity caused by a 'feaver the same time she had the meetings' after which she become lowe. 7th July 1815 Dr Wright's report [SAH 147] Phobe maded 3 attempts to destroy herself yesterday and ordered that somebody sleep in the same room with her and that 'extraordinary precautions be observed regarding her'.Yet when Phobe destroys her own gown ten days later Dr orders her to bed, and be locked by both hands”
Admitted: 9th May 1815
Official Records state: “no medication is given by visiting doctors except some wine when they think she is dying”She was dying. She died within the month, and was buried in the grounds.
Admitted: 12th May 1815
Official Records state: “her first attack come on through her jealousy - her husbon did keep another woman and take her home to his house to lay in”
Admitted: Not Recorded
Reason: Not Recorded
Official Records State: ”No indication of when admitted but is there in 1821
July 11th 1821 NB broke all the windows in his cell I ordered him to be lock by the leg to the chair in the yard as a punishment for so doing - he being very abusive
28th Aug NB 'violent and abusive' ordered to be locked by the leg in the yard
8th Oct 'In consequnece of Nathan constanlty destroying his beding I am under the necessity of ordering him to sleep in straw'
3rd Nov tears his clothes - locked to the chair
13th Nov 1821 Nathan had destroyed his coat and bedding so Dr orders 'him to have the new muff on in order ti confine his hands.' But these were not on for long; NB and John Link go to the privy and JL used a sharp stone to cut the strap. Dr locks both of JLs hands to the day chair in the yard 'as a punishment for liberating Buck'
Admitted: No Record
Reason: No Record
Official Record states: “20th July 1821 JL pulls out his left eye in the night; the porter finds blood and the eye in the morning; Mr Dalrymple orders TC to send for one dozen leeches and apply them to the external part of the eye socket which is swollen; both of JLs hands are locked; JL seems to still be alive by the end of 1821”
John Hubbard 18,
Admitted: 13th June 1834
Official record states: “Idiot for some time but lately became troublesome to all females coming in his way”
He is not seen as a problem, and discharged almost immediately.
Thomas Wright, 19
Admitted: Just before Christmas 22nd December 1834
Reason: (According to father) “Dirty Habits”
Died within a year, just before his 20th birthday.
I was shocked to find that the Police had been doing firearm training recently within the building. With this knowledge it certainly keeps you on your toes when a door slams shut behind you with a loud bang
Whiteboard notes from 2008:
Interesting bullet points are:
“Prison Health - ‘new built Coltishall”
“Old Persons - Toenail clippingd for Age Concern Project”
“Substance Misuse - HMP Norwich - Alcohol Survey”
Although one record stands out, for different reasons:
Admitted: 11th October 1815
Official Records state: “insanity come upon hir through love”Discharged within 2 weeks
Historic Floor Layout:
Big props to Black Shuck, and Man of 2 Worlds for getting Em_UX and I in and out of the crazy access and for showing us round!
› See more like: Norwich County Asylum - Dec '10