The Poor Law Unions became a handy tool for parishes and government officials to deal with mentally disturbed individuals. In those days, the term "lunatic" was applied to a range of mental problems. These individuals were evaluated, and if they could be adequately kept in the workhouse infirmary or barracks, that's where they were housed. For more severe cases, the Union would move them to an asylum, sometimes contracting with asylums out-of-county for their care.
There is a long history of legislation in the Kingdom dealing with "Lunacy." The 1774 Madhouse Act was followed by several amendments and extensions. The 1800 Criminal Lunatics Act was followed by the 1808 County Asylums Act. The Lunacy Act was passed in 1890, consolidating many of the various laws into a single document.
built in 1852 on a slight rise in Bracebridge parish, Originally built to house 250 inmates, it was enlarged in 1859, 1866, 1881 and 1902. The plan & arrangements of this large asylum, are in accordance with the most approved systems adopted in other parts of the kingdom. The plain Italian style prevails throughout the large central building, & in all its wings & outbuildings; which, with the courts & airing yards etc, occupy about 7 acres. About 8 acres more are occupied by gardens, lawns, plantations, & roads; thus leaving about 30 acres for the farm, which is partly cultivated by spade husbandry, & gives healthy employment to many of the patients.
The average number of patients in 1854, was 244, consisting of 110 males & 125 females. Many of the latter are employed in needlework. The asylum finally closed in 1989/1990 and was bought by a property developer a few years later who has converted half of the site into houses but the main asylum buildings are Grade II listed buildings and cant be demolished.
Thanks for Looking :)