Institution Information - Langdale House

Parish/County: Bothwell, Lanarkshire

Alternative Names: Longdales Asylum; Langdales House; Longdales Lunatic Asylum

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Locating Records for this institution

For people admitted to Scottish Mental Health institutions from 1 January 1858 a record usually survives in the ‘Notices of Admissions by the Superintendent of the Mental Institutions’ which are held by the National Records of Scotland. We are creating an index to these records and can assist you in searching the unindexed period. Search our index here or read more about the project here.

Records of inmates of this institution do not seem to have survived. A new asylum was later constructed nearby at Kirklands. For more information, click here. If you learn of anything concerning the survival or whereabouts of these records, please contact us.

Text from 1857 Royal Commission Report

“LANGDALE HOUSE, NEAR BOTHWELL; Dr. Muirhead, Proprietor; Visited 19th July 1855.

Dr. Muirhead was formerly assistant physician in the Royal Asylum of Glasgow, where Mrs. Muirhead was matron. They paid £1200 for this property, including four acres of land, and have since expended about twice that sum on new buildings and alterations. They also rent 46 acres of additional land. The house stands in a pleasant situation, of which, however, no advantage has been taken to render it a cheerful residence.

There are at present 90 patients, the largest number that has been in the house, since it was opened about twelve years ago. They consist of—

Private Patients: Males, 4 ; Females, 4

Pauper Patients. Males, 41; Females, 41

It is calculated that there is accommodation for 150 patients, but Dr. Muirhead does not intend to receive more than 100.

All the female private patients are maintained at pauper rates, and are associated with the paupers. One male private patient is in the same position.

The pauper rate of payment is 8s. 6d. per week, with an additional charge of 9d. per week for clothing, equal to £24, Is. per annum. Owing to the competition of the Musselburgh houses, attempts have recently been made by some parishes to reduce this rate; and Dr. Muirhead has agreed to deduct the charge for clothing in the cases of two patients belonging to the parishes of Old and New Monkland, rather than permit them to be removed. The rate was formerly 7s. 6d. per week, but was raised about a year ago, in consequence of the increased price of provisions.

The house is so irregularly built, from having been enlarged at different times, that it is difficult, by description, to convey an accurate idea of the premises. But they may be described, in a general manner, as consisting of two blocks of building: the first comprehending the original house, with various additions; the second comprising four large dormitories, two for males, and two for females, separated from the original house by the airing-courts.

Female Department.

In the original house, six rooms of moderate size are appropriated to the females. The three upper rooms are dormitories, two of which serve also as day-rooms, and are used by patients who occupy themselves in sewing, mending clothes, and knitting.

In one of these rooms there is no furniture except one stool; in the other there are two benches and two chairs. The bedsteads are of iron, the mattresses of straw, and the pillows of chaff. The beds are clean and tolerably comfortable, but have each only one sheet. There are open fire-places, but one room is usually heated by the pipe of a stove, which passes up from the room below. The windows open freely, and are secured by iron bars on the outside. There are ventilating apertures in the roof and above the doors, and ventilation seems well attended to.

On the ground floor is a small room with two beds, and beyond it, two day-rooms. The first day-room contains no furniture, with the exception of two benches. It has an open fire-place, and one small window, barred outside, and guarded with wire within. It has a bare, cheerless, and depressing aspect. Opening from it, are two seclusion-rooms, each measuring 6 1/2 feet in length, 5 feet in breadth, and 10 feet in height. They hare each a window, about a foot square, close to the ceiling, and two small openings above the door, which communicate with the day-room. These rooms are occupied, as occasion requires, by noisy and dirty patients. The bedding consists of loose straw cast upon the floor, covered by a sheet, and is preferred by Dr. Muirhead to all other kinds of bedding for wet patients. From the small size and high position of the window, it must be impossible ever thoroughly to purify these rooms by a current of fresh air.

In the second day-room are benches and two tables, and a stove in the centre, surrounded by a guard. A few of the patients here were sewing, but the greater number were idle, and several noisy. The room has a bare and cheerless aspect. Opening from it are two other seclusion rooms, measuring 7 1/2 feet in length, 3 1/2 feet in breadth, and 10 feet in height, which, however, are said not to be used, except occasionally for patients who prove restless during the night. In this day-room are two basins which, so far as we could discover, form the whole washing accommodation for the female patients. In none of the sleeping-rooms are there any chamber utensils; tubs or pails are placed in the rooms at night for necessary purposes, and are removed in the morning. The patients were at one time furnished with utensils, which were broken or upset, and Dr. Muirhead adopted the pails as, in his opinion, an improvement. The patients, we were told, are bathed once a week. There is, however, no bath-room; but we were shewn a wooden bath which is said to be placed in the day-room when wanted.

The females' airing-court is 40 yards long, and 12 broad, and consists of a central grass plot, with a bordering walk. The walls are 13 or 14 feet high, and exclude all prospect. There are some narrow seats against the walls, but none that afford shelter from the weather. There is a privy with two seats in a recess of the wall, which is only half sheltered from view by a wooden board. There is a closet in the house, close to the female day-room, in which there is a seat and a pail, but it is kept locked in summer. The females have recourse, during the night, to the pails in their rooms for all necessary purposes.

At the further extremity of the airing-court, is the building containing the large dormitories. One is on the ground-floor, and the other above. The lower dormitory has a capacity of 15,441 cubic feet, and contains nineteen beds. It is occupied by eighteen patients, and two attendants. The windows have iron sashes, and are beyond the reach of the patients. They do not open, but the lowest row of squares is without glass, and the wooden shutter opens to allow ventilation. There are besides ventilating apertures in the roof. A stove stands in the middle of the dormitory, and the pipe, passing into the room above, serves for warming it also. Attached to this dormitory is a closet in which the patients’ clothes are placed at night, and also a seclusion-room, for the isolation of any patient who may prove noisy or troublesome during the night. The upstairs dormitory is of about the same size, but it is not fully occupied, only ten beds being in use. It is more cheerful than the room below. The windows open, and are within reach of the patients, who have thus a view of the country. No attendant sleeps here, the patients being all quiet. The ventilation seems sufficient. Neither of these dormitories contains any furniture but the beds.

Male Department.

There are here two day-rooms, as on the female side. The first contains two benches; and a basin-stand with three basins, which constitutes the whole washing accommodation within doors; but many of the patients, we were told, prefer washing in a tub in the court. A stove, guarded by a grating, and placed between the two rooms, serves to warm both. The second day-room contains more benches. One with a back folds down into a bed for an attendant. The floors are sanded, and both rooms are very cheerless and bare. There is a closet near them, which is said to be used as a necessary in winter, like that already mentioned on the females' side. Adjoining the second day-room, but not opening immediately from it, are two seclusion-rooms, measuring 7 1/2 feet in length, 5 feet in breadth, and 9 feet in height, equal to 337 cubic feet. Each has a small window, about a foot square, close to the ceiling, and two holes above the door communicating with the passage. The patients occupying them sleep on loose straw covered by a sheet, and if of dirty habits wear very short shirts. Adjoining the day-rooms is the airing-court, which is broader and somewhat larger than that of the females. It contains some narrow seats along the walls, but none sheltered from the weather. The walls are about 16 feet high. There is a privy with two seats, similar to that already described; which is the only accommodation within reach of the patients, except the tubs placed in their rooms. A number of patients were sitting on the benches or walking about. Among them were six in dresses formed of one piece, fastening at the back, and having a large flap behind for necessary purposes. This dress is used on account of the dirty and slovenly habits of the patients, and to guard against indecent exposure. Two of the patients were without shoes and stockings, it being found impossible, as we were told, to get them to retain them.

At the extremity of the airing-court are two large dormitories, similar to those for the females. The lower one has a capacity of 12,707 cubic feet, and contains fifteen beds. An attendant sleeps here. The other has a capacity of 16,097 cubic feet, and contains eighteen beds. The windows, ventilation, heating, &c, are arranged as already described.

In the original house, above the day-room, is a dormitory with six beds, which completes the accommodation for the male paupers. It is heated by means of the pipe of the stove of the day-room below, which passes through it. It is used also as a day-room for quiet patients.

There are no single rooms for pauper patients, except the seclusion-rooms already described; but occasionally patients of dirty habits have straw laid for them on the floor of the dayrooms. No form of restraint, beyond seclusion, is said to be used; we saw no evidence of mechanical restraint.

In the original house, is the dining-hall. It is a large, cheerless room, close to the kitchen, paved with stone, and containing tables and benches. The dinner hour is halt-past two, and males and females dine together. The males enter first and take their seats, and are followed by the females. On leaving, all the males go out before the females are allowed to rise. There are no diet tables. The diet is stated to consist of porridge and milk for breakfast and supper, (except on Sundays, when tea and bread are substituted); and of broth, meat, and rice for dinner; or potatoes instead of rice. Eight ounces of uncooked meat are said to be allowed to each patient.

Six milch cows are kept, and at present there are seven pigs, twenty head of cattle, and about seventy sheep and lambs on the farm. All the bread is home-baked, and the meat home-killed. Above the dining-hall is a store-room for clothing and such articles as are likely to be wanted in the house.

There are three male attendants, and seven female servants. Of the latter, four act as attendants upon the patients. The head male attendant has £22 a year; the two others £20 each. There are no other persons employed about the place as gardeners or out-door servants. All the garden and farm-work is done by the patients, under the superintendence of the attendants enumerated, except when it is necessary to hire a plough. The amount of attendance is consequently insufficient to ensure proper attention to the patients; and hence, probably, the alleged necessity for clothing patients of dirty habits in the description of dress above noticed.

The males are principally occupied in the garden and on the farm. A few of the females, also, do a little light farm-work; but in general they are employed in sewing, washing, ironing, and working about the house. Books and newspapers are, it is said, furnished to the patients, and they are supplied with draughtboards and cards. They have dances at the New-year and Hallowe'en, and on some other rare occasions.

Dr. Muirhead reads prayers in the hall on Sunday evenings, when all the patients attend, with the exception of about half a dozen. No clergyman visits the establishment.

The patients go to bed at eight o'clock, and rise at six. They all sleep separately. No artificial light is supplied to them, even in the longest nights, beyond that of the fires. The attendants only have candles.

The patients appear to be sufficiently fed. They have a change of linen every Friday, and their sheets are changed every fortnight.

There are only three private patients paying more than pauper rates: two at 15s. a week, and one at £1, 11s. 6d. The two at 15s. occupy the same room, which serves both for bedroom and sitting-room. They have the use of an adjoining empty dormitory for taking exercise in bad weather. There is no separate airing-ground for private patients; consequently, they must either go beyond the bounds of the asylum for exercise, or join the paupers in their airing-court. With such a limited establishment as we have described, it must be almost impossible to obtain the services of an attendant to walk abroad with the patients. But even were this easy, the following entry, made in the books of the asylum, shows that the alternative of going beyond the grounds is not approved of by the official inspectors:—

"It is admitted that one of the patients was allowed to walk beyond the boundaries of the asylum, which is a practice which ought to be discontinued, as none of the patients should ever be allowed to go beyond the precincts of the establishment, whether attended by a keeper or not.

"12th August 1852."

The patient at £1, 11s. 6d. occupies a small room alone, but he occasionally spends the evening with Dr. Muirhead. Notwithstanding the above injunction, he is allowed to walk in the country unaccompanied by an attendant.

The house is visited half-yearly by the Sheriff, accompanied always by two medical inspectors. They write reports in the book kept for the purpose, and occasionally specify the numbers that may be admitted into the house. The last entry states that on 26th July 1854, the Sheriff-substitute, Dr. —, and Dr. — "found everything in good order, and the comforts of the patients attended to."

The books kept are the Weekly Register and Madhouse Register, and also a Case Book. The Weekly Register gives only lists of numbers of curable and incurable patients. It contains no columns for entries of restraint.”

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