This won’t hurt – Images of St. Matthews Hospital, Burntwood

Following my post earlier this week about Burntwood Asylum – latterly St .Matthews Hospital – I have been bowled over by the response of readers to what I thought might be a taboo subject. From reader responses – including some excellent work by Paul Ford, of Walsall Local History Centre – it seems I have much reading to do and there is more information on the subject the now long-gone facility about than I thought. In the meantime, I pulled the excellent and fascinating book ‘This Won’t Hurt: A History of the Hospitals of Lichfield‘ by Mary Hutchinson, Ingrid Croot and Anna Sadowski (ISBN 978-0-9565225-0-4) off the shelf and thought I’d share some of the images with readers. The book is still widely available from outlets in Lichfield at the very reasonable price of around seven quid – I bought mine from the St. Mary’s Heritage Centre, but I think Smiths also have it.

Please buy a copy, it’s brilliant. My thanks to the authors.

Still available from stores - but apparently sold out on Amazon. Get one while you can.

I mentioned in my original post that there were often postcards of asylums - and so there is one of St, Matthews, Burntwood. Sent by and anonymous reader, whom I thank.

The buildings look quite dark and large, but generally they were quite light, airy places, as the Victorians believed (with some basis in reality) that fresh air and sunlight were crucial to mental healing. Taken from 'This Won't Hurt: A History of the Hospitals of Lichfield' by Mary Hutchinson, Ingrid Croot and Anna Sadowski.

Sadly, no date for this image is given, anybody able to speculate based on the crisp uniforms? Taken from 'This Won't Hurt: A History of the Hospitals of Lichfield' by Mary Hutchinson, Ingrid Croot and Anna Sadowski.

Even in the late Victorian era, St. Matthews thad a rich social life. I wonder how common it was for people in those days to have a photo of themselves to hand? Taken from 'This Won't Hurt: A History of the Hospitals of Lichfield' by Mary Hutchinson, Ingrid Croot and Anna Sadowski.

The clock tower on the Administration Building was a common feature of many a Victorian Asylum, as was a water tower. They were mostly built on hills to maximise the exposure to fresh air, so needed substantial water infrastructure. Not sure if Burntwood had one. Taken from 'This Won't Hurt: A History of the Hospitals of Lichfield' by Mary Hutchinson, Ingrid Croot and Anna Sadowski.

This is a wonderful curio. Wonder what happened to the lamp? Taken from 'This Won't Hurt: A History of the Hospitals of Lichfield' by Mary Hutchinson, Ingrid Croot and Anna Sadowski.

Another interesting image, again, sadly undated. Such hospitals were surrounded by well-tended grounds and patients were encouraged to take the air and engage in such activity where possible. Taken from 'This Won't Hurt: A History of the Hospitals of Lichfield' by Mary Hutchinson, Ingrid Croot and Anna Sadowski.

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6 Responses to This won’t hurt – Images of St. Matthews Hospital, Burntwood

  1. Pingback: ECT and the machine that wasn’t switched on | ECT statistics

  2. Bernadette Russell says:

    My maternal grandmother Alice Hughes was a patient at Burntwood Asylum from 1939 to 1944. She was only 34 when she died. I have her hospital notes, which are very sad reading. I am trying to find a photo of her, as I have never seen one. My mum never owned a photo of her mum, who died when she was only 12. If anyone has one, I’d be sooo happy.

    • Ellen Knowles says:

      Good Afternoon Bernadette My name is Ellen, I have just come across this website and your comment, from which my great nan was also a patient at the time of your grandmother, She was admitted in 1941. 31 years later she went missing from the asylum where a public hunt went underway and sadly a few weeks later her body was found. I would be so grateful if you could point me in the direction of where you were able to locate records. Thank you and hood luck with your search.

  3. Vicky says:

    Hi Bernadette, I had a relative who was a patient there too, could you direct me as to where to find the records please?

    • Paul Massey says:

      I was an imate there circa 1964/65. I will never ever forget that electro-theraphy they zapped your brain with. I still have nightmares. Maybe that’s why l write horror stories or stories with a bit of darkness in them. I wish l could get my files if they still exist. I will be going on line to purchase the book. I live now in North East Lincolnshire.

  4. Ellen says:

    I was wondering if someone would be able to provide some information on how I obtain my great nans patient records or notes… well any information about her and her time at St Matthews, She was an inpatient for 31 years, from 1941, sadly her body was found a few weeks later after disappearing from the hospital / asylum. Thanking you in advance
    Ellen

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