Victorian London - Health and Hygiene - Hospitals - St. Luke's Hospital for Lunatics

LUKE'S (ST.) HOSPITAL FOR LUNATICS, in OLD STREET ROAD, instituted in 1751. The present Hospital was built by Dance in 1782-84. No person is knowingly received  as a patient, who is in possession of means for decent support in a private asylum.

Peter Cunningham, Hand-Book of London, 1850

St. Luke's Hospital was instituted in 1751, to receive poor insane persons, being paupers or others, and is adapted to contain about 300 patients. A system of non-restraint upon the unfortunate inmates is professed, but not observed, and the details of the management do not appear to be recommended to our notice by any distinguishing feature of improvement or success.

The Pictorial Handbook of London, 1854

Sr. LUKE'S, OLD STREET, was established in 1751. It has usually in the house 150 to 160 patients, of the middle class. Annual income, 4500l. from funded property. It is noticeable that the proportion of cures at St. Luke's is 67 to 70 per cent; at the pauper lunatic asylums, only 15 per cent.

Cruchley's London in 1865 : A Handbook for Strangers, 1865

ST. LUKE'S HOSPITAL for Lunatics was first established 1751, in a house upon Windmill-hill, on the north side of Moorfields, nearly opposite the present Worship-street. In 1753, pupils were admitted to the Hospital; and Dr. Battie, the original physician, allowed medical men to observe his practice. This practice fell into disuse, but was revived in 1843, and an annual course of chemical lectures established, at which pupils selected by the physicians of the different metropolitan hospitals are allowed to attend gratuitously; In 1754, incurable patients were admitted on payment to the Hospital on Windmill-hill. In 1782, was commenced the present St. Luke's, in Old-street-road, when green fields could be seen in every direction; the foundation-stone was laid by the Duke of Montague, July 30; the cost, about 50,000l., was defrayed by subscription; George Dance, jun., architect.   
    "There are few buildings in the metropolis, perhaps in Europe, that, considering the poverty of the material, common English clamp-bricks, possess such harmony of proportion, with unity and appropriateness of style, as this building. It is as characteristic of its uses as that of Newgate, by the same architect." -Elmes.
The Hospital was incorporated 1838; the end infirmaries added in 1841; a chapel in 1842, and open fire-places set in the galleries; when also coercion was abolished, padded rooms were provided for violent patients, and an airing-ground set apart for them; wooden doors were substituted for iron gates, and unnecessary guards and bars removed from the windows. In 1843 were added reading-rooms and a library for the patients, with bagatelle and backgammon-boards, &c. By Act 9 and 10 Vict., c. 100, the Commissioners of Lunacy were added to the Hospital direction. In 1848, Sir Charles Knightley presented an organ to the chapel, and daily service was first performed. The Hospital was next lit with gas; the drainage, ventilation, and supply of water improved, by subscription at the centenary festival, June 25, 1851.
    On St. Luke's Day (October 18), a large number of the Hospital patients are enter. tamed with dancing and singing in the great hail in the centre of the Hospital, when the officers, nurses, and attendants join the festival. Balls are also given fortnightly.
    The mode of treatment at St. Luke's has undergone so complete a metamorphosis within the last few years, by the institution of kindness for severity, and indulgence for restrictions, that the maladies of the brain have been rendered as subservient to medical science as the afflictions of the body. Modern experience shows that the old terrors of the prison, brutal execrations and violence, and those even worse scenes which were exhibited for a small money payment to the curious, in the madhouses of the metropolis and elsewhere, were errors. The per-centage of recoveries was, from 1821 to 1830 47 1/3 per cent.; 1831 to 1840, 56 ditto; 1841 to 1850, 60 3/5 ditto; showing the results of the improved treatment. But the largest per-centage of recoveries, with one exception, was 69 1/3, in 1851.

John Timbs, Curiosities of London, 1867