Broadmoor Revealed: Victorian Crime and the Lunatic Asylum by Mark Stevens

By Mark Stevens

Broadmoor printed takes the reader on a trip around Victorian England�s felony Lunatic Asylum. Recounting own tales from the place actual crime meets psychological affliction, the booklet takes in gunshot at Queen Victoria and poison in Brighton, in addition to the artist Richard Dadd and lexicographer William Chester Minor. A medical institution, no longer a jail: stories of madness, homicide and extra.

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Extra resources for Broadmoor Revealed: Victorian Crime and the Lunatic Asylum

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These were workers more often than homemakers. There was a disparity in education too: most of the men could read and write, but only a third of the women could. Attempts were made to categorise the patients, much as diagnoses might be made today. One of the tasks that befell the Victorian doctor in lunacy was to ascribe a ‘cause of insanity’ to each case. Sometimes these were what were termed as moral circumstances, such as: intemperance and vice; religious excitement; being unlucky in love; anxiety; and poverty.

This was to be the last act before Dadd took matters into his own hands. On 28th August 1843, Dadd asked his father to accompany him to an inn at Cobham, near Gravesend in Kent. After enjoying a meal together, they walked to nearby Cobham Park, where Dadd attacked and killed his father, first trying to cut his throat with a razor, and finally stabbing him with a knife. Dadd was aware that he had done something wrong, even if he was not exactly sure who or what it was that he had killed. He fled to France.

These carriages would take them on the last leg of their journey. The eight women and their accompanying paperwork were loaded into the seats, before the steps were removed and the horses started. Then the wheels of the coaches spun down winding earthy lanes and finally up a gentle incline as the passengers were driven the five miles to Crowthorne. Broadmoor’s first patients had arrived. Who were these women? As befitted a group thrown together without friendship, they had different backgrounds.

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