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Village and Colony Asylums in Britain, Ireland and Germany, 1880-1914

Environmental approaches to patient treatment in Edwardian institutions for the insane

Gillian Allmond
Publication Year:
326 pages
BAR number:


This book analyses the buildings, interiors and landscapes of asylums for the insane poor in the early part of the twentieth century, exploring the ways in which environments were seen as therapeutic. An innovative type of asylum layout - the village or colony asylum - is considered in detail. Gillian Allmond offers an original approach to asylum analysis, using field observation, documents and published materials to connect asylum materiality to contemporary discourses of health and poverty. The book shows how the Edwardian understanding of the therapeutic qualities of light and air, together with the promotion of bourgeois domestic ideals, influenced the design of exteriors and interiors in the hope of remaking the minds of the mentally ill. Layout analysis includes the discovery that at least one asylum was based on Ebenezer Howard’s ‘garden city’. This innovative study is a significant contribution to the growing literature on the historical archaeology of institutions.

Gillian Allmond completed her doctoral study of the archaeology of asylums in 2018. She has been a professional researcher of buildings and landscapes since 2009 and has published widely on topics related to physical and mental health and environments. She is currently a Visiting Scholar at Queen’s University Belfast.

‘I would recommend the book to all those interested in the history of mental health care, and especially to many students considering a mixed methods approach to postgraduate research into the evolution of mental health services. It is a fascinating, stimulating, highly enriching read.’ P. Nolan, British Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 2022

‘An excellent study. This will be a much-referenced work, and should be of interest not only in Britain and Ireland, but also in North America and Australasia.’ Professor Harold Mytum, University of Liverpool

Introduction (B665_Allmond_9781407357584_-_introduction.pdf, 379 Kb) [Download]

Table of Contents (B665_Allmond_9781407357584_-_toc.pdf, 211 Kb) [Download]