Institution Information - Millholme House

Town/Parish/County: Musselburgh, Inveresk, Midlothian

Alternative Names: [none]

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Text from 1857 Royal Commission Report

“MILLHOLME HOUSE, MUSSELBURGH; Mr. Mackay, Proprietor; Visited May 2, 1855.

Millholme House stands a little way back from the main street of Musselburgh, from which it is separated by the milllead. The buildings occupied by the patients consist of two dwelling-houses, separated from each other by an intervening house, and of some straggling out-houses behind. The premises are rented at £66 a year. The principal dwelling-house is occupied by Mr. Mackay and his family, and the female patients. The second dwelling-house is occupied by the head attendant and his wife, by three male patients, and several females. A garden of more than half an acre extends in the rear of these two houses, und serves as airing ground for the females.

The out-houses are occupied by male patients and are all of one story only. The airing-ground is behind, and is extremely small.

On the day of our visit the house contained—

Private patients, male, 4; female, 2.

Pauper patients, male, 23; female, 30

[Total] 59

Females.—In the principal dwelling-house, at the back, and sunk several feet below the level of the ground, are two or three small rooms occupied by the worst class of female patients. One of these rooms especially was in a wretched condition. It contained a trough bed, with loose straw covered by a sheet; and three other miserable-looking beds on iron frames. The brick floor was saturated with urine. This room is so damp and cold, that a fire is constantly necessary, even in summer, to make it habitable. It has only a small barred window.

The apartments of the better class of patients are tolerably comfortable, but some of them are very small and crowded. One patient sleeps in a closet which just holds a bed. Two others occupy respectively very small closets. The larger rooms are much crowded, and, as there are no day-rooms, the patients take their meals either in the grounds or in their sleepingrooms.

In general the sleeping-rooms have fire-places, and fires are said to be lighted when necessary. The windows are mostly barred; some of those towards the street have also trelliswork, and darkened panes. There are no lavatories. Some of the females wash in their rooms, some in the court, others in the kitchen.

Males.—The sleeping-rooms of the pauper male patients are all in the out-houses, and are entered directly from the open air. They are mostly paved with bricks, but one or two are floored with wood. The bricked rooms are generally damp, especially one which is occupied by patients of dirty habits. Each room contains three, four, or five beds, according to its size; fires were burning in most of them. In the room occupied by the worst class of patients, there are five trough beds, containing only loose straw covered by a sheet. The beds of the other patients have straw mattresses, and appear more comfortable, with sufficient coverings, but they have each only one sheet. The windows are all barred. The bedrooms are not supplied with chamber utensils, but pails are placed in them at night. There are no lavatories; the patients wash at the pump, or, in wet weather, under a shed. The furniture is limited to benches. There are no separate day-rooms, and the patients take their meals, as they best can, either in their sleeping-rooms or in the yard. Three male patients sleep in a small dark room on the ground floor of the second dwelling-house, opening directly from the yard. The floor is flagged and damp, and is without any carpet or matting. A small fire is here constantly necessary. This room serves also as a passage, and is lighted by a glazed door.

The garden behind the house serves for the women's airing ground. It is about two-thirds of an acre in size, and is pleasantly laid out. The men's airing-ground is only about 30 yards long, and 20 yards broad, and is entirely taken up by a bowling green and a walk around it.

There are no occupations for the men, except a little garden work. A few of the women sew. In one of the largest of the sleeping-rooms five females were thus engaged, under the care of an attendant.

Besides Mr. and Mrs. Mackay there are two male attendants, who receive £24 and £20 per annum respectively; and six female attendants and servants, at £8 per annum each.

For the season of the year the patients were sufficiently clothed, and appeared adequately fed. The diet consists of porridge and milk, or tea, for breakfast; broth and bread for dinner; and porridge and milk again at night; but there are no means of ascertaining the quantities allowed to each patient.

Restraint is in habitual use. One man, A. S., was handcuffed. A female, I. G., was in a strait-waistcoat. A showerbath, which stands in an unenclosed outer shed, is occasionally used to quiet patients; it has a very high fall.

The rate of payment for pauper patients is £22 a year. Mr. Mackay has hitherto refused to receive any on lower terms, and one patient was removed to Mr. Aikenhead's on this account.

The private patients have tolerably comfortable bedrooms, and are provided with a day-room.

The books kept are the Weekly Register and the Madhouse Register. Restraint is generally recorded, but not in the manner required by the statute.

A missionary attends once a fortnight.

There appears to be a disposition to treat the patients well, but the house is too full, and hence some of them are placed in damp and cheerless rooms, quite unfitted for occupation.

On the 26th May we again visited this house. On proceeding to the room of the worst class of patients, on the female side, we found I. G. standing in the middle of the floor on the damp bricks, in a strait-waistcoat, with no other clothing but her shift. A small fire was burning.

On the male side, we found A. S. lying in a trough bed on loose straw. The body of his shirt scarcely reached below the waist, and the sleeves did not reach the elbows. His arms were confined by handcuffs, and a strap was attached to the bed, to fasten him down at night.

On 31st May we again visited this house. I. G. was still in restraint, and on the floor were puddles of urine. A. S. was still in bed, strapped down, with his hands manacled.

We subjoin the exact measurements of some of the rooms of this house, with the number of patients occupying them :—

Under room, main building, with four beds and four patients; contents, 1025 cubic feet, being 256 1/4 cubic feet to each patient A fire-place protected by an iron guard.

Upper room, main house, with three beds and three patients; contents, 954 cubic feet, being 318 cubic feet to each patient. No fire-place.

Closet, upper floor, with one bed and one patient; contents, 209 cubic feet. No means of ventilation.

Detached building of one story, with five beds and five patients; contents, 1592 cubic feet, being 318 cubic feet to each patient. A fire-place.

Room entering from No. 7, with two beds and two patients; contents, 626 cubic feet, being 313 cubic feet to each patient. No fire-place.

Detached building of one story: room with five beds and five patients of dirty habits; contents, 1339 cubic feet, being 267 4/5 cubic feet to each patient. A fire-place.

East main house, under floor: room with three beds and three patients; contents, 541 cubic feet, being 180 1/3 cubic feet to each patient. No means of ventilation but by opening the door. The attendants house is entered from this apartment.

Attic floor, main house: room with two beds and two patients; contents, 448 cubic feet, being 224 cubic feet to each patient. No fire-place.

Attic floor, main house: room with four beds and four patients; contents, 882 cubic feet, being 220 1/2 cubic feet to each patient. A fire-place.

Detached building, old brew-house, second floor: a closet with one bed and one patient; contents, 222 cubic feet.

Note.—The average height of the ceilings is 7 feet 7 inches.”

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