Replica of a 19th-century restraint harness, England, 1930-1940

Made:
1930-1940 in England
Leather restraint harness, copy of harness found at the Hanwell Asylum. Top 3/4 view. White graduatec background. Leather restraint harness, copy of harness found at the Hanwell Asylum. Top 3/4 view. White graduatec background.

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Leather restraint harness, copy of harness found at the Hanwell Asylum. Top 3/4 view. White graduatec background.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Leather restraint harness, copy of harness found at the Hanwell Asylum. Top 3/4 view. White graduatec background.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Replica of a leather restraint harness. The original, probably from the late 19th or early 20th century, was found around 1930 in a chest in the cellar at Hanwell Asylum, the asylum on the outskirts of London whose superintendant, John Conolly (1794-1866), famously renounced all instruments of mechanical restraint in favor of 'moral treatment,' that is, regular labour under constant close surveillance.

The original of this leather restraint harness was found in a chest at the Hanwell Asylum in Middlesex in 1930. Hanwell Asylum is now West London Mental Health NHS Trust at St Bernard’s Hospital. Such garments restricted the movements of patients considered violent. They were universally used until the end of the 1700s. More humane methods of management were gradually introduced after this time.

Hanwell Asylum’s superintendent was John Conolly (1794-1866). He famously renounced instruments of mechanical restraint in favour of ‘moral treatment’. Moral treatment was regular labour under constant surveillance. It is possible copies made of this and other articles found at the same time were created to illustrate to patients and staff the former treatment of inmates. It appears there was originally a wax figure of a woman, now destroyed, to show how the restraints were used.

Details

Category:
Psychology, Psychiatry & Anthropometry
Collection:
Sir Henry Wellcome's Museum Collection
Object Number:
A600287
Materials:
incomplete, iron, leather and textile
Measurements:
overall: 500 mm x 450 mm 75 mm,
overall (as diplayed): 1160 mm x 930 mm x 100 mm, 2.55 kg
type:
restraint harness
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment