Institution Information - Whitehouse Asylum

Parish/County: Inveresk, Midlothian

Alternative Names: [none]

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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.

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Text from 1857 Royal Commission Report

“WHITEHOUSE ASYLUM, INVERESK; Mrs. Thomson, Proprietor; Visited 3d May 1855.

This house occupies a pleasant situation, and consists of a straggling building, which has been altered and added to at different times. It principally receives patients belonging to the middle classes; and, at the date of our visit, contained 50, namely, 26 males and 24 females.

The patients paying the higher rates have each a sleeping room, fully and comfortably furnished, in which they sit, and also, if they choose, take their meals. There is, however, a large day-room where many of them mess together; others dine with Mrs. Thomson's family. The large room is also used for prayers and musical parties. The sleeping-rooms have open fire-places, and are all of good size, except one occupied by a patient who has repeatedly escaped. His room measures 9 feet long, 5 1/2 feet broad, and 9 feet high—equal to 445 cubic feet. The door is shut at night, and there are no means of ventilation.

The windows of the modern portion of the building are not barred. The attendants sleep in different parts of the house; and are so placed that some of them would immediately hear any unusual noise.

The patients at the lower rates occupy a different part of the building, and are placed two or three in one room. They appear well cared for. There is a small court for noisy patients, which, however, is rarely used, as all patients known to be troublesome or refractory are refused admission. The house is well supplied with warm baths and water-closets.

The general rate of payment is from £40 to £100 a year; but one patient, who died lately, paid considerably more. He had ample funds, and his legal guardian thought it right, that the payments on his account should be high, though he did not enjoy any particular advantages.

There are three male attendants, and ten female servants.

The meals are—breakfast at nine; dinner at two; tea at five; and supper between eight and nine. The rooms are locked at nine.

Mechanical restraint is said to be little used; but we found one patient hand-cuffed, as he is liable to sudden paroxysms of violent excitement, preceding and following epileptic attacks. He is restrained only when in the grounds, lest he should injure the other patients. The shower-bath is used as a means of control; but the attendants are not permitted to use it, or to threaten its use, without medical sanction.

The grounds extend to about a Scotch acre, and have a lookout erected in the centre. They are used by both male and female patients; but a separate part of the garden also is railed off for the exclusive use of the latter. The patients do a good deal of garden-work. There is a greenhouse, bowling-green, flower garden, rabbit-house, &c, for their amusement and recreation. Three cows are kept; also a horse, a phaeton, and an Albert car. There is a field of five Scotch acres in which the patients occasionally walk. They also take exercise beyond the premises. Six patients go to church. A number of newspapers and other periodicals are received, and books are got from libraries in Musselburgh and Edinburgh. A missionary visits at regular periods.

The medical attendants receive a guinea per annum for each patient; but additional fees are generally paid by the friends of patients. Dr. Thomson, son of Mrs. Thomson, lives close at and, and assists in the management of the house.”

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