Mapperley Hospital

“The Borough of Nottingham Lunatic Asylum”


The Borough of Nottingham Lunatic Asylum opened (unfinished) on August 3rd, 1880, occupying 125 acres. It had its own farm, bakery and butchery, along with a church and recreation hall. It was designed by local architect George Thomas Hine, son of TC Hine, the designer of the Coppice Hospital. Previously, both Town and County patients were accommodated in Sneinton.

Initially, the hospital was built for 300 patients, but was constantly extended. The population of Nottingham increased from 40,415 in 1821 to 259,942 in 1911.

In 1889 a new wing was added, but only 12 months later was found to be already overcrowded, with only 44 patients. In 1896, drawings were produced for further extensions to the wings and a further two storeys were added to the Male Epileptic Dormitory. The female wing was really being updated it was to have electricity installed!

In order to persuade the Asylum Committee to consider electric lighting throughout the hospital, Hine encouraged them to visit the Dorsetshire County Asylum in 1900, part of which he had designed. Here, they were surprised that none of the doors were locked, noting that this would hardly be safe at Mapperley. In fact, the locked door practice remained until the arrival of Dr. Duncan Macmillan, the medical supervisor from 1942 - 1966. He was famed for his policy of unlocking the wards to create an open hospital.

The hospital finally closed its doors to mentally ill patients in December 1994. The main buildings are now named Duncan Macmillan House.




Mapperley Hospital Centenary: 1880 – 1980

When Mapperley Hospital's history was written in 1980, it is hard to imagine that fourteen years later it would become itself history. As you read through this narrative, its authors saw only a positive future, that Mapperley Hospital will go into its second century continuing to play a full part in the care and treatment of the mentally ill, little knowing that by 1994, Mapperley Hospital, after 114 years of care for the mentally ill, would be a thing of the past.

As you read this historical account you will see under the leadership of Dr Duncan Macmillan, how Mapperley Hospital emerged from being a locked institution, i.e., the importance of the need to move away from an environment being used as a form of social punishment, to an environment, where patients could come and go freely, and where staff could become less like warders, looking after institutionalised people, to caring for patients’ health and welfare.

As mental illness is cared for more in the community than in hospital surroundings, reading through this historical account you will begin to see how that form of psychiatric/social care began. And because of the move for care in the community, how large institutions like Mapperley Hospital were beginning to admit fewer patients on a long-term basis to more short-term periods of psychiatric care.

Finally, to fully understand this historical account is to imagine that it is the year 1980. By imagining it to be 1980, with the prediction of Mapperley Hospital entering its second century, playing a full part in the care of the mentally ill, coupled with the passage of time, one can see how things have changed beyond recognition, almost to the point of thinking: "What would the founders of Mapperley Hospital think if they could see it today?" That I shall leave up to you – the reader!

Mapperley Hospital Centenary

Click on the above page to read about

‘The Centenary of Mapperley Hospital’