Institution Information - Hawkfield House

Town/Parish/County: South Leith, Midlothian

Alternative Names: [none]

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Text from 1857 Royal Commission Report

Text from 1857 Royal Commission Report

“HAWKFIELD HOUSE, RESTALRIG ROAD, Leith; Dr. Chapman, Proprietor; Visited 11th July 1855.

Dr. Chapman has devoted himself to the treatment of the insane for many years.

The house, which at present contains 31 patients, namely, 15 males and 16 females, stands in a pleasant and retired situation, surrounded by its own grounds. It is approached from the road by a straight avenue. We found the gate standing open, and no particular features to mark an asylum. The pleasure-grounds in front of the house are used by the quieter and convalescent patients; those behind by the less trustworthy. The Asylum consists of two adjoining houses. The rates of payment vary from £50 to £80 a year. Dr. Chapman does not profess to take patients at lower rates, but there are several at present for whom, from particular circumstances, he receives less.

Each patient has a separate sleeping-room, and one or two have separate sitting-rooms; but, as a general rule, the patients occupy associated day-rooms. The sleeping accommodation, considering the payments made, is poor. The rooms are scantily furnished, and not very neatly kept; and those occupied by patients of dirty habits are very close and unpleasant. Sufficient attention is not paid to ventilation and cleanliness. Above the doors are small openings covered with wire gauze, intended for ventilation, but many of them are covered with wooden slides, which have become fixed by paint, and cannot be opened. The sleeping-rooms have open fire-places, and the house is besides warmed by hot water. The lower half of the windows is covered by a frame of strong wire gauze, which serves as a protection when the window is open. It produces a gloomy effect, and prevents a distinct and clear view of the country being obtained. The windows have also sliding shutters.

The accommodation for males is inferior to that for females. The bedrooms are bare and comfortless, and the sitting-rooms are small, confined, and deficient in furniture. The sittingroom, for those paying the lower rates, has only wooden benches, which are without backs, except where fixed against the wall. Indeed, the part of the house occupied by patients of this class is altogether very gloomy and depressing.

There are two padded rooms, one for males, and the other for females, both very close and ill ventilated.

There is a warm-bath, shower-bath, and douche. The last is occasionally used, and it is said, with benefit to the patients.

Mechanical restraint is said never to be employed.

There is a very small airing-ground, kept in a very untidy state, for refractory male patients. It is enclosed by high walls, and is very gloomy. There is no corresponding airing-court for females. Behind the house is a good-sized grass field, with trees; and beyond it, a large garden. The males and females take exercise in them alternately; the males in the garden in the morning, and in the field in the afternoon. The patients frequently walk beyond the grounds. The males are said to do some garden work; but generally, there seems to be a deficiency of the means of occupation. There is a billiard-room. Some of the patients go regularly to church; and during the season, a few bathe in the sea. The diet appears good and ample; steel knives and forks are in general use. There appears to be a disposition to treat the patients with kindness.

The books kept are the Weekly Register, and Madhouse Register. The Sheriff visits the house twice a year, accompanied by a medical inspector. This is regularly done in all the Midlothian houses, but in none is there any record of their visits, beyond the signature of the inspector in the Weekly Register.

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