Asylum features in new book

A Place in the Country
A Place in the Country

A new book looks at the history of the Three Counties Asylum, later to be known as Fairfield Hospital.

In the mid-1850s, the counties of Herts, Beds and Huntingdonshire set about looking for a site for a new asylum to house their ‘pauper lunatics’.

Two hundred acres of farmland at Stotfold were purchased and in March 1860 the first patients were admitted to the new Three Counties Asylum (TCA).

The asylum was in operation for almost a century and a half and, as approaches to treating mental illness changed, so did TCA.

When it first opened, in the wake of the 1845 Lunacy Act, it was with the intention of providing humane treatment to replace the harsh regimes in private madhouses, prisons and workhouses.

A vivid picture emerges of a community that provided work for many locals as well as an enclosed place for very vulnerable people.

As the era of institutional care ended, Fairfield Hospital, as it came to be known, closed its doors in 1999.

A Place in the Country: Three Counties Asylum 1860-1999, is published by University of Hertfordshire Press on September 1.