Lunatic asylum in Hilsea.

I don’t have much on it. Very much a @todo.

What I really want to do is figure out which building housed it. Maybe GJ Scales still owned the building when he died in 1874?

The relationship between the proprietor of the Hilsea Asylum, the Portsmouth borough council, the Portsea Island Union workhouse and the new Asylum at Milton is an interesting one to tease out.


35 patients. 29 pauper and 6 private. Weekly charge for paupers: 9/- to 9/6 a week.

Proprietor G.J. Scales (Surgeon)

The system operating at Hilsea was criticised by the commissioners because

“Two licensed houses, those at Duddeston and Hilsea… have been established and carried on in connection with workhouses, which send to them only their unmanageable patients, and afterwards remove them when they become tolerably tranquil, without reference to the propriety of their remaining at the asylum for the purpose of cure.” (1844 Report p.44)

“The paupers are frequently sent in an advanced stage of their disease, and in a bad state. They are usually sent, in the first instance, to the parish workhouse, and are kept there as long as they can be managed, and when they become violent or dirty, they are removed to the asylum” (1844 Report p.230)

Hilsea Asylum itself was criticised because:

“…containing, in June 1843, twenty-nine patients, there is one yard of tolerable size, for the male patients, adjoining the high road, and a small one at the back of the house, which appears, from its being overgrown with grass, to be little used, for the women. We could not ascertain that any of the patients occupied themselves, with the exception of two or three of the women, who, we understood, were occasionally employed in needle and household work.” (1844 Report p.133)

One of the Hilsea patients had been responsible for the death of the previous superintendent. Shortly after recommending the use of restraint at the aristocratic Whitmore House in London, in July 1843, the visiting commissioners

“found at the asylum of Mr Scales, near Portsmouth, the widow of a former superintendent, whose hand had a few months previous been bitten by a dangerous patient, who was in the house at the time of our visit. The superintendent die from the effects of the bite, within twelve days of the injury” (1844 Report, p.148)

Commentary on the 1844 Report of the Metropolitan Commissioners in Lunacy