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Napsbury Main Administration Block

If the photographs and information on the site bring back any memories about any of the mental hospitals or people connected with them, please click on the link to ‘add a comment’ at the bottom of each page, to add your information.

This page was added on 07/12/2009.

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  • Hello,

    I am currently researching a book (to be published by Oneworld in 2023) on various aspects of mental healthcare across the 20th century.
    I am trying to locate survivor testimony from former patients who were originally certified as having ‘mental deficiency’ and sent to mental deficiency ‘colonies’, but who nevertheless at some point found themselves transferred across to a mental hospital, even though they were not suffering from mental illness per se. Classically, these were the adolescents whose behaviour had brought them to the attention of the authorities, eg for persistent vandalism, shoplifting, pilfering and so on, and, for girls, having a baby out of wedlock.
    Many of these patients were not released until as late as the early 1980s, having languished on the back wards of various mental hospitals.
    I was wondering whether anyone could give me any pointers towards first-person testimony of such former patients.
    I fully understand the sensitivity of this subject, and I do not seek to identify any particular individuals in my book.
    I would anonymise any accounts and ensure descendants are not identifiable.

    You can reach me by sending an email to and this will be forwarded to me.

    Best wishes

    Admin note:
    Sarah is not a member of staff at Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies. This research and publication are entirely her own.

    By Sarah Wise (10/12/2021)
  • Hello I am trying to find out some information about Annie Dudley who was in Napsbury Hospital the year of 1909, I believe she was pregnant when she went in and the baby was born while she was in there. The baby being my father Cyril Dudley I have tried to get his birth certificate but it can’t be found on the date he said his birthday was. Annie was committed because of epilepsy and latter died in Severall asylum Cholchester . Her death was not recorded for 8 days so I’m wondering if my fathers birth was ever registered. dose anyone know how I can find out what happen to babies born in the hospital. I did find him living with a sick nurse with another baby on the 1911 census at thached Cottage . Would there be records on Annie still in existance.
    Shirley Howell Australia

    By Shirley Howell (05/09/2020)
  • Hi Shirley
    Thanks for your message. One of the archivists at Herts Archives & Local Studies will be replying to advise you further. [Ed.]

    By Marion Hill (15/12/2020)
  • Hi, I wish to contact one of your contributors Nina Patrinas, regarding a former resident at Napsbury, Gladys May Hall of whom I have a few brief memories – Ian Osborne,, thanks.

    By Ian Osborne (10/06/2020)
  • The site is very interesting and the historical value immense. The fact you say ‘out of sight, out of mind’ may be harsh however as when I lived in one of these hospitals as a researcher, it was clear that some patients were better off and happier when the state looked after them and were not just ‘medicated’ and shoved into the mostly crueller outside world. For some I saw myself, needed constant help and support and were happier inside the facility instead of outside. The proof to add is that prison populations of mentally ill people in 2014 is rising even faster. Is it better in a hospital as a patient or better in a prison cell as a criminal?

    By Mr Magoo (05/03/2014)