Normansfield Conference 2012

Conference poster A4

Normansfield Conference 2012

Normansfield: Past Present and Future

Saturday 5 May 2012

The conference explored the history of Normansfield and its collections through historical research, archiving and personal experience.

Presentations were given by:

Ian Jones-Healey, Langdon Down Museum Archivist
Talk: Creating the Langdon Down Museum of Learning Disability at Normansfield

Professor Conor Ward, author of Dr John Langdon Down and Normansfield. Talk: John Langdon Down in Earlswood (1858-1868) and in Normansfield (1868-1896). John Langdon Down was a brilliant physician. Recruited  to restore the good name of Earlswood he combined research with clinical care. He identified Down’s syndrome and other previously unrecognised disorders. He emphasised the educational value of entertainment, focused on the Assembly Hall. His wife Mary multitasked as administrator, educator and motherfigure.

Lord Rix: President Mencap. Talk: Personal recollections of Normansfield. Our daughter, Shelley, came to live in Normansfield in 1956 – about the same time as the Friends of Normansfield was formed. Elspet and I seemed to migrate to fundraising for the Friends – for both of us were well known at the time for our Whitehall Farces. I will touch on this, Shelley’s move to Oak House and eventually to a Mencap home in Whitton. I will also mention the Sherrard Report.

Jan Pimblett, Principal Development Officer London Metropolitan Archives. Talk: The Normansfield Hospital Archive 1853-1983. The Normansfield Hospital collection, which is housed at London Metropolitan Archives, reveals a vivid and compelling history through documents and photographs. This presentation will explore the work undertaken to preserve the collection and make it accessible to readers. The scope of the collection will also be examined with reference to some key materials which show the pioneering work of the hospital, the lives and experiences of residents and staff, the final decline of the institution and the enduring legacy of Dr Down and his work.

Ray Elmitt, local historian and author of a Hampton Wick Timeline.
Talk: Normansfield and the local community. The 1891 Census for Normansfield records 319 persons who ‘slept or abode at this Institution on the night of Sunday April 5th 1891’. This would have been the biggest single grouping of people within Hampton Wick and South Teddington and this presentation explores the impact they had on the surrounding community.

Sarah Chaney: Bethlem Royal Hospital and London Museums of Health and Medicine. Talk: “Few comunities of the poor have so much amusement provided for them”: Entertainment, Occupation and Environment in the Nineteenth Century Asylum. The foundation and early years of Normansfield Hospital were closely linked to the growth of the psychiatric asylum system, and can be best understood with a clear understanding of the way in which such institutions were founded and functioned. The popularity of moral treatment (a humanitarian method, introduced in the late eighteenth century, aiming to “re-educate” disordered minds through environment, rest and occupation) and the “non-restraint” movement of the 1840s were important influences on the model adopted by Down. This talk explores these influences at the Normansfield, Earlswood and Caterham asylums.

David Wilmore: David works as a historic theatre consultant advising on theatre building restoration, nineteenth century staging techniques and special effects of the period. Talk: historic Victorian theatres and Normansfield. David Wilmore will give a presentation which relates to the original “Ruddigore” portraits used in the Gilbert and Sullivan’s first production of Ruddigore at the Savoy Theatre in 1888 and now kept at Normansfield. He will examine the history of the original production, the provenance of the portraits and how they were used in the original production.

Bethlem Blog from the Bethlem Royal Hospital Archives and Museum on Normansfield: Past, Present, Future Conference.