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Hanwell Asylum (St Bernard's Hospital)

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Hanwell Asylum (St Bernard's Hospital) (1831 -)

Location: London, England

Hanwell Asylum (St Bernard's Hospital)

Hanwell Asylum (later known as St Bernard's Hospital) was built to the west of London as the pauper lunatic asylum for the county of Middlesex, and opened in 1831. Before long it was accommodating the largest number of patients of any asylum in Britain, and within ten years of its opening, it had become (according to the historians of psychiatry Hunter and Macalpine) "the most famous and the most controversial mental hospital in the world". Upon his appointment as Hanwell's medical superintendent in 1839, Dr John Conolly abolished all forms of mechanical restraint, and introduced the non-coercive "moral management" of patients. The principles of non-restraint were not invented by Conolly. They emerged from the York Retreat, founded by William Tuke in 1796 and run by three successive generations of the Tuke family. Nevertheless Conolly's successful implementation of non-restraint at Hanwell was one of the factors in its general adoption in Britain and in other parts of Western Europe. By the time of his first European journey in 1853, Daniel Hack Tuke, later one of Conolly's successors as medical superintendent at Hanwell, demonstrated a keen interest in the spread of "moral therapy" across Europe.