On this day: Thomasine enters the asylum

20th August 1898. Thomasine Amelia Lean was admitted to Cornwall County Asylum, Bodmin. She had a husband, Henry, and was born in Cornwall. She died on 3rd April 1916, having spent eighteen years in the asylum.

Cornwall County Asylum was founded in 1815. It was later known as St Lawrence’s Hospital and was demolished several years ago. It’s not stated why Thomasine went to the asylum but mental health was not well understood at this time and there could be any number of reasons, physical, mental or social. Often the complaint would be described as something general such as ‘mania’. Asylums have always had a notorious reputation as dreadful places where vulnerable people are locked away and abused. It’s only relatively recently that attitudes towards mental health have changed.

Read about my ‘ordinary people’ project here. Catch up on the previous post in the series here.

5 thoughts on “On this day: Thomasine enters the asylum”

  1. Wow, that’s horrible and she died there? Unfortunately apart from people who were actually suffering mental health issues I think sometimes a nasty relative could also end up sending someone there who didn’t deserve to be there. Thank goodness attitudes have changed today, although there’s still a way to go in that department as not everyone still understands mental health problems.

    1. Yes, it was very sad but there wasn’t the understanding that we have today, no NHS, and no way that people could be cared for in their homes. I know sometimes people, women particularly, would be sent to asylums for no decent reason. It’s pretty dreadful to think about.

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