Burden, Rosa Gladys 1891 - 1940


(1891-1940), philanthropist

Rosa Gladys Burden (née Williams) served as superintendent of the Stoke Park Colony, Bristol, around the time of the First World War. The Colony had been founded by the missionary and philanthropist couple Reverend Harold Nelson Burden (1860-1930) and Katherine Mary Burden (1856-1919) as an institution for the separation, rehabilitation, and occupational training of individuals with mental disabilities. Rosa became a close friend of the Burdens in her superintendent role, and, following Katherine’s death from a stroke in 1919, Harold and Rosa married on 12 May 1920. For the next decade, Rosa continued to support the Colony’s work and that of its charitable trust, the National Institutions for Persons Requiring Care and Control (NIPRCC).

Following Harold Burden’s death from heart disease in 1930, Rosa took over his position as Warden of the NIPRCC and expanded his sponsorship of medical research at the Stoke Park Colony. She established the Burden Research Trust in 1933, a £10,000 fund to support medical and psychiatric studies of the Colony’s inhabitants. In 1936, the Trust oversaw the building of a dedicated clinic for the study of epilepsy, with a fully-fitted operating theatre, two small wards, and several laboratories. The clinic was officially opened on 12 May 1939 as the Burden Neurological Institute, under the directorship of neuropsychiatrist Frederick Lucien Golla (1878-1968). The Institute would go on to establish itself as a pioneering neuroscientific research unit in the latter half of the twentieth-century.

Rosa Burden died shortly after the opening of the Institute, on 17 September 1940.