Key made by psychiatric patient

Made:
1900-1960 in Haywards Heath
Key made by patient from spoon at the Brighton County Borough

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Key made by patient from spoon at the Brighton County Borough
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Key made by patient from spoon at the Brighton County Borough Asylum, a psychiatric institution, later known as St. Francis Hospital, Haywards Heath, Sussex, England, 1900-1960.

A patient at St. Francis Hospital, formerly Brighton County Borough Asylum, carved this small key from a spoon. Details of the patient are unknown. He or she clearly took considerable time to carve the key. We can assume it was for an escape attempt. One patient, Albert Jenner, made an escape with a key made from brass but was caught within a day. Albert tried again in 1885, making a key out of a brass button, but was quickly caught.

Before the 1930 Mental Health Act, psychiatric patients in Britain were certified insane and lost their legal rights. However, the Act let patients be admitted to institutions of their own free will and without forfeiting their rights. This included regular reviews into their mental health and the potential for release.

Details

Category:
Psychology, Psychiatry & Anthropometry
Object Number:
1996-271/4
Materials:
metal
Measurements:
overall: 65 mm x 20 mm x 2.5 mm,
type:
key -hardware
credit:
Princess Royal Hospital