York Lunatic Asylum

York Lunatic Asylum

The lunatic asylum in York was opened in 1777, initially with 15 patients, then increasing to 32 in 1783. The asylum was designed to be caring and “without undue severity”. The asylum saw constant increases in numbers, in 1788 it had 68 patients, in 1798 it had 83 patients and in 1813 there were 199 patients.

The building was situated at Without Bootham Bar on the North-East side, a three storey building and designed by John Carr. The upper two storeys were rooms for the patients, with the ground floor being a committee room and apartments for the physician and apothecary. Behind the building there as an extension with a kitchen, offices and more rooms to treat the patients. The extension wing of the asylum burnt down in 1814, which was then replaced in 1817. Some had thought locally that the timing of the fire was convenient, as it led to the destruction of numerous records, at a time when allegations had been made about the running of the asylum.

By the time the extension had been rebuilt, substantial changes had already been made in the management of the institution. Some minor problems with the institution, and in February 1818 the York Herald reported that a female patient of the asylum had escaped, although she was found safe and readmitted.

In February 1819, the asylum advertised that spaces were available for new patients, as many of the “West Riding” paupers had been removed to the new asylum at Wakefield. The rooms in the asylum had initially been all the same price, a charge of 8 shillings per week, but this changed later on so that those who could afford more were charged more for their treatment. The asylum advertised that, “patients are admitted according to their circumstances, the terms for pauper patients belonging to the City, Ainsty and County are 8 shillings per week”.

In 1904, the lunatic asylum was renamed Bootham Park and in 1948 it became part of the National Health Service. In 1952 the hospital was again renamed, this time to Naburn and Bootham Park Hospitals, but in 1988 the name was changed back to the Bootham Park Hospital.