Dr John Langdon Down and Normansfield

By O Conor Ward MD. £5.00

Langdon Down Book This is a story about a creative medical pioneer and entrepreneur. John Langdon Down over the years showed perseverance and determination and with the help of friends and family elevated himself from his humble beginnings. Firstly he trained as a pharmacologist and then went on to medical training to qualify as a doctor. After being medical superintendent of Earlswood for ten years, he went on to develop his own private institution / community for people with a learning disability.

Dr Down believed passionately that people with learning disabilities had real potential. He realised that they were different from other patients with mental health problems. He set about creating an environment in which his patients could be educated and develop to the best of their abilities. He gave them dignity by caring for them bringing them into his family home at Normansfield.

The condition we now refer to as ‘Down’s syndrome’ was formally attributed to Dr Down in the 1960’s by the World Health Organisation but it is only in recent times that the real story of John Langdon Down has been told.

The beautiful Theatre wing at Normansfield was commissioned by Dr Down and his wife Mary for religious worship and entertainment. It is now safe in the hands of the Langdon Down Centre. Prof O Conor Ward played a major part in the acquisition and restoration project at Normansfield. He has spent many years researching and archiving the work of this great Victorian Physician.

Tales of Normansfield: The Langdon Down Legacy

By Andy Merriman. £7.00


Tales of NormansfieldTales of Normansfield charts the remarkable history of a unique hospital for learning disabled children and adults. Founded by the pioneering Dr John Langdon Down in 1868, his ground breaking use of educative ideas, drama and music therapy is a story of enlightenment, dedication and vision. The hospital gained an international reputation in its treatment of ‘idiots and imbeciles’ and is a testament to the extraordinary foresight of Langdon Down. The book also describes the role of John Langdon Down’s wife, Mary, in the administration of the hospital, her involvement with the exquisite theatre where staff and patients put on shows.

Following the death of John Langdon Down, his work was continued by various members of the Langdon Down family dynasty for over a century. Tragically, conditions at Normansfield deteriorated following the hospital’s transfer to the National Health Service and a particularly turbulent period led to an unprecedented strike by nurses, in a protest against the incompetent and autocratic Dr Terence Lawlor in 1976.

Personal accounts by patients, letters and photographs from the Langdon Down archive, reminiscences from nurses, interviews with staff members and contributions from relatives provide a fascinating insight into life at Normansfield until its closure in 1997.

Dr Langdon Down’s Normansfield Theatre

By John Earl. £7.50

Theatre bookJohn Earl examines in detail the beautiful theatre wing at Normansfield which was commissioned by Dr Down and his wife Mary for religious worship and entertainment.

Langdon Down Centre Trust

By Stella Brain and Professor O Conor Ward. £1.00


Langdon Down CentreThe booklet contains two essays: Normansfield by Stella Brain and John Langdon Down: The Man and the Message by Professor O Conor Ward.


Please order books from here: Langdon Down Centre Shop