Stoke Park - The Institution

Copyright The Glenside Museum

The National Institutions for Persons Requiring Care and Control

Stoke Park Colony, Stapleton, Bristol.

London Offices: 14 Howick Place, Westminster, S.W.


A medical certificate, dated not more than two days previous to the day of presentation for admission, and stating that the child is free from infectious disease and has not been recently exposed thereto, should be sent with each child.

No outfit need be sent with children, and the clothing they are wearing at the time of admission will be returned to the escort or sent carriage forward  to any address desired.

Applications for admission should be made on forms supplied for that purpose, and which may be obtained from the Warden, at the London Offices.

Stoke Park Colony. -Boys : 2 to 10 years of age; Girls: 2 to 25 years 'of age.
Sandwell Hall. -Boys : 10 to 15 years.
Eastern Counties Institution. -Boys : 15 to 25 years of age.
North Midlands Institution -Girls : 15 to 25 years of age.

The contribution towards maintenance of children sent to the Institutions is 10s. 6d. per week. The actual cost of maintenance, inclusive of clothing, but inclusive of cost of establishment, repayments of capital outlay, and interest thereon from the date of the opening to the 30th September, 1911, was 10s. 8:d. per week. It is hoped that when the institutions are more thoroughly established, the amount now contributed toward maintenance will be sufficient to cover all expenditure.

THE work of Education Authorities, Boards of Guardians, and others on behalf of Mentally Defective Children has revealed the fact that certain mentally defective children are unable to benefit by the ordinary means of education, and require custodial care. It is for these children that Stoke Park Colony and other Institutions for the mentally defective have been established. They may be described as:

(a)  Mentally Defective Children living in very Bad Homes.

These children, owing to their mental defect, are particularly susceptible to bad influence, and can only, by early removal from their homes, be prevented from acquiring vicious habits.

(b) Mentally Defective Children whose Regular Attendance it is not possible to secure at a Day School.

These are children with wandering propensities, and also children of parents who take no trouble to enforce their children's attendance at school, and generally mentally defective children coming within the provisions of the Children Act of 1908. Ordinary Industrial and Reformatory Schools do not take children known to be mentally defective.

(c) Defective Children sometimes known as Moral Defectives.
These should be early placed under suitable control. When placed in an Institution and removed from all opportunity of vice these children improve greatly, and make excellent manual scholars.

Authorities sending Cases.
Education Authorities are, in increasing numbers, taking advantage of the provisions of the Children Act of 1908. These provisions enable them to provide institutional care, at comparatively small cost to local rates, for many of the mentally defective children found in their district.

Boards of Guardians have of late given much consideration to this department of their work, and as the need and advantages of special custodial care have become apparent, have in increasing numbers exercised their powers to maintain mentally defective children in suitable institutions, irrespective of the age of the child or the position of the parents, who may or may not be themselves paupers. An examination of our registers shows that more that one fourth of the total number of Poor Law Authorities in England were at the beginning of the present year maintaining cases at the National Institutions alone, and the number has since increased.

Objects of the Institutions.
THE Institutions are for permanent as distinct from temporary care, and no case is knowingly received as a temporary measure. Mentally defective persons of both sexes never acquire self-control, or become fit to cope on equal terms with normal people; they remain children all their lives, and no training or education will ever make them able to resist the temptations or overcome the difficulties which they must encounter in a state of complete liberty. At the Institutions they are carefully guarded and protected from wrong-doing, but if they are to be plunged back into street life, their last state will be worse than their first, they will be ail the more miserable for having known this care and comfort, all the more irresponsible because they have been accustomed to control.

We recognize with regret that congenital mental defect is an incurable condition, but we also recognize, with the hope that alone makes this work possible, that these unfortunate children can be improved by training. To train them is a task which needs infinite patience and infinite perseverance ; but given these, we believe that practically all our inmates will eventually be taught to do some useful action, some small daily task, which will contribute to the general comfort of the community. The wonderful results of training in America and Germany, and also in the few institutions of the kind which exist in our own country, show that imbeciles of so low a grade as to be almost speechless can be trained to do a good day's work on farms or in workshops under supervision.

If they can do this in America and Germany, we can do it in England.

In pursuance of this idea we teach the children:-
Laundry and House-work, Weaving, Gardening, Carpentering, Boot-making, Tailoring, Brush-making, and Farm Work.

Our Instruction is almost entirely manual, experience having taught us that only in this way can mentally defective children be developed and made useful. Under supervision our inmates do their own housework, make their own clothes and boots, grow their own farm produce, and contribute towards the cost of their maintenance by simple industries generally. But it is important to remember that these same people turned out into the world to fend for themselves would at once cease to do any useful work. Not only would they fall to support themselves, but they would extort from the community a most expensive form of support as criminals and paupers.

Permanent care and control is the only method of securing economical and humane treatment.

The National Institutions for Persons Requiring Care and Control
Some Particulars Stoke Park Colony, Stapleton, Bristol. 1911

Stoke Park Colony.
Stoke Park was one of the residences of the late Duke and Duchess of Beaufort, and the one at which both died. The Park itself contains about 100 acres, and for the most part slopes towards the South and South-East. As will be gathered from the illustrations, its beauty is not a little enhanced by the undulating formation of the steeps and slopes, as well as by the groups of well-grown forest and other trees. The Park provides ample space for play and recreation. In the lower part of the western side of the Park is a lake, in which the public are still permitted to fish. This privilege, as well as that of access to the Park, will probably be continued so long as the practice does not interfere with the convent rice of the Colonists. That the first privilege is popular is evident from the number of disciples of lzaak Walton, who, even on a cold winter's day, gather round the lake to ply their skill. That the second is equally so is evident from the large number of parents, their children, and others, to be found in the Park, not only during the spring and summer, but even in the late autumn.

The higher portions of the Park, and those immediately surrounding the Institution buildings, the ornamental grounds, woodland walks, gardens and terraces, are reserved for the private use of the Colonists, members of the public being only admitted within the inner gates by special permission. The Mansion stands on an eminence, some 200 feet above sea level, and the new buildings for the Colonists have been erected on a like level. The very fine terrace situated to the south-east of the Mansion is a distinctive feature of the property. It is erected on the same contour as the Mansion and is about 5oo feet in length, and for the greater part of a uniform width of about 40 feet. The average height above the level of the Park is considerable. An ornamental palisade constructed of Bath Stone of pleasing and massive design encloses the terrace on the Park side, and prevents danger from falls. The terrace is well protected from all prevailing winds, and is generally a warm and agreeable promenade. Its existence is of exceptional value to the more delicate children. There are extensive views of the surrounding country, not only from the terrace itself, but from almost every part of the Colony.

The Colony is supplied with water from the West Gloucestershire Company's mains, and also from gathering grounds on the property itself. The drainage has been wholly reconstructed, and over a mile of new sewers laid, the latter being in part necessary to enable the drainage system to be connected with the Bristol public sewers. The Colony is lighted throughout by gas made on the premises.

The illustrations on this and the next following page are reproductions of photographs of groups of children taken at two different times during the short period the Colony has been in existence. Those at the foot of this page show some of the first cases admitted at the Colony ; both photographs were taken soon after we commenced to admit boys. The other picture on this, and those on the next page, are from photographs taken shortly before these lines were written. The group of boys in the Park, and the picture showing them leaving Ivy Lodge, exactly represent the lads' daily summer life. During the late summer they practically spent the whole of their waking hours either in the Park or in some open space on the estate. The Nurse Attendants meanwhile carefully training them in various ways so as to prepare them for more serious occupations later.

St. Mary's Chapel is small, but otherwise suitable for use for divine service. It has been of great assistance to the Colony, and many helpful services have taken place therein. It will always be useful for smaller devotional Meetings and Classes ; but the erection of a Church of sufficient size is one of the needs of the Colony.

The Chaplain, in his most recent report, says that there is much that is gratifying in the conduct of the children. He refers to the increasing interest which both-boys and girls alike display in the Services, and to his surprise at the knowledge they have shown in the answers they have given when catechized. In the matter of conduct, he speaks with gratifying confidence, and he specially notices the reverent behaviour of the children.

At a Confirmation Service, held early in the present year, the Chaplain presented 43 candidates. After the service the Bishop expressed himself agreeably surprised at the reverent behaviour, and the ardent and intelligent interest taken in the service by the children.

The Dower House.
The Mansion, now known as the Dower House, is, as will be seen from the illustrations, a handsome and imposing structure of stately dimensions. It consists of three main floors, and on the north side an additional floor on a lower ground level. The principal rooms and the handsome main staircase are preserved much as they Were when occupied as a family residence. Other parts of the building have been partially reconstructed, and further alterations are about to be made. The ground floor rooms are mostly used as day rooms; but some are reserved for the Committee, the Matron, and the Staff respectively. There are suitable apartments which provide lavatory, boot, and cloak room accommodation on this floor.

On the first floor all rooms, except one used as the Matron's bedroom, are occupied by inmates as sleeping apartments. Most of the rooms on the second floor are used by the staff. The Kitchen, Stores, and Service rooms are located on the lower floor already referred to.

Ivy Lodge.
The Ivy Lodge block is at present used for the accommodation of boys mostly under the age of ten years. It consists of two floors. On the ground floor are a Central Sitting Hall, a Dining Hall, and Day Rooms. They are all nearly 40 ft. in length, 19 ft. in width, and 13 ft. in height. The Matron's and Staff Sitting Rooms are also on this floor; adjoining the Dining Hall is a playroom about 6o ft. in length ; this room is open at one end to the play yard. In a detached building, connected with the main part of the block by a covered way, are Shower Baths, Washing Lavatories, and Offices. On the upper floor is Dormitory accommodation for the children. The Dormitories, like, the rooms on the lower floor, are about 40 ft. in length and 19 ft. in width ; each is overlooked by a sleeping apartment occupied by a member of the Staff. The building is provided with a central main staircase, constructed of stone; there is also a secondary staircase, as well as means of communication between this floor and the adjoining block.

The building is heated throughout by low pressure hot water. All dormitories have two separate and independent means of egress, by either of which staircases can be reached.

In addition to the communication on the dormitory floor, the next block can be reached by communicating doors on the ground floor, and from the playing yard. The kitchen and staff dining room for the two blocks are common to both ; the apartments, however, are structurally a part of the adjoining block.

Ivy Lodge is about as convenient a building as an adapted and reconstructed building could be expected to be. It is, as will be seen from the illustrations, of picturesque appearance . The cost of reconstruction, however, has been great, and less money would have been spent had a new building been erected.

St. Catherine's Buildings.
St. Catherine's Buildings consist of three blocks connected by corridors and covered ways. The buildings are a sixth of a mile in circumference and 365 feet in length. They provide accommodation for 275 children and the necessary staff. The three blocks are known respectively as St. Catherine's South, St. Catherine's North, and Dining Hall and Kitchen Block. The two first named are of three storeys ; and the latter, including the corridors and covered ways, of one storey. The buildings are constructed of red bricks and roofed with slates. Steel joists and reinforced concrete have been used where practicable the staircases are of stone, or other fire-resisting materials. The number of rooms is rather more than one hundred, including 22 dormitories and I2 day rooms for inmates, 9 sitting rooms and 3o bedrooms for staff, and 30 service and office rooms. There are 10 baths for inmates, and 3 bathrooms for staff, 25 w.c.'s and washing lavatories for inmates, and 8 for staff. The dormitories contain a floor space Of I3,750 superficial feet and a cubic space of 165,ooo feet. The day rooms have a floor space of nearly 9,ooo superficial feet. The off duty rooms for staff have a floor space Of 40 superficial feet for every person authorised to use them ; a separate bedroom is provided for each employee, the minimum floor space of these rooms is 63 feet superficial, and the air space 750 cubic feet. The kitchen and two dining halls have each a floor space of 1,ooo feet, and an air space of 15,ooo cubic feet. There are eight entrances, two for staff only, two for service purpose, and four for inmates, and in addition there are six emergency exits from the corridors. All dormitories have two means of exit, one opening directly on to a fireproof staircase, while a second fireproof staircase can be reached by passing through an adjoining dormitory. The dormitories have windows on at least two sides, and are of a uniform width of 25 feet and I2 or more feet in height. In every instance they are overlooked by a room provided for the use of a nurse attendant. The ordinary day rooms for inmates are mostly 26 ft. by 25 ft., and the corridor day rooms 40 ft. by i8 ft. In the South Block there is a Recreation Hall 54 ft. by 25 ft., while the North Block special provision has been made for children requiring close individual care.

The Chief Official's quarters (which include sitting hall, sitting rooms, office, kitchen, two bedrooms, dressing room, bathroom and offices ' ) are located in the South Block, and the Staff quarters in the North Block ; they include Matron's sitting room, Matron's office, Staff sitting rooms, Matron's bedroom, Nurse Attendants and other Staff bedrooms, bathrooms and offices.

The Kitchen, which is lighted and ventilated by a large lantern light in addition to ordinary windows, is fitted with an up-to-date steam cooking plant, milk sterilizer, steam kettles, and kitchener. The whole of the buildings, including the single bedrooms for employees, are heated by low pressure heating apparatus. The steam for heating the calorifiers and hot water for baths, lavatories, kitchen and culinary purposes is produced by a new pattern pressure Cornwall Steam Boiler, situated in the basement of the North Block. There are auxiliary boilers in other parts of the buildings for use when the large boiler is being cleaned or is undergoing repair. As in all other blocks, Fire Appliances for use in case of fire have been placed at convenient points, and smoke screens erected on all staircases.

The Hospital.
The Hospital is specially intended to meet the needs of children sent to the Colony whose feeble physical condition makes it appear that special provision is desirable. The building is constructed of brick and roofed with slates ; it stands on an eminence immediately overlooking the Park, a position as nearly ideal for the purpose as could be imagined. The large windows are made in sections, and can be partially or wholly removed at pleasure. The parts of the building completed and in occupation provide two large and two small wards, Nurses' duty rooms, bath and lavatory accommodation for patients, Matron's and Nursing Staff day and sleeping apartments, bathrooms, lavatories and offices. The wards are from i2 to I3 ft. in height, and are provided with stoves. The building is also heated throughout by low pressure hot water. In front of the Hospital is a terrace, the level of which is considerably above that of the Park.

Open-Air Treatment.
To the south-west of the Hospital, and on the same level as the Hospital Terrace, is an oval formed by, tall elms. A part of this space has been paved, and five houses with open  fronts constructed to revolve at pleasure, erected thereon. Each house has accommodation for two patients. They are readily reached from a side entrance to one of the hospital wards, and also from one of the nurses' duty rooms. The trees forming the oval make open-air treatment for convalescents possible without undue exposure to the sun. An enclosure between the Ivy Lodge and Hospital Blocks provides suitable accommodation for sun baths for cases needing the direct rays of the sun. Further accommodation for summer use has, on the recommendation of the Medical Officer, been provided by the purchase of a number of large tents. The illustrations on the next page show these tents in use as dormitories, dining room and playroom. That his advice was well founded may be gathered from the circumstance that nearly every child so treated almost immediately increased in vitality and weight.

School Classes.
The first illustration on this page shows a group of buildings used for the purposes of instruction generally. The building facing the camera is a Hall, capable of seating 400 children. It is connected with the Chapel, and so provides extra seating accommodation for Chapel Services. Seating accommodation is in this way provided for both religious The exercises, education and entertainments. Hall, with the smaller building on the right, is used five days a week for school purposes. The large building accommodates the girls and the other the boys.

Everything that experience and forethought can suggest is done to enable the children to benefit from School classes ; but we need hardly say the majority of our children will never become proficient scholars, or indeed reach any known standard, however low.

Play and Recreation.
The old adage, ; All work and no play makes jack a dull boy,; applies perhaps even more forcibly to mentally defective children than it is said to do to normal children. Be that as it may, experience has taught us to encourage the latter as much as possible at Stoke Park. Our girls differ little from those elsewhere in their preference for dancing and skipping. There are also May-pole and other games. The boys, like their more normal fellows, notwithstanding their tender years, prefer football and cricket.

At one end of the large Hall already referred to is a suitable stage. This stage, although only recently erected, has been the scene of several encouraging entertainments. The members of the Staff Theatrical Club enter heart and soul into the business of entertaining the Colonists, and several carefully prepared programmes have already been successfully given.

Happy Moments.
The illustration on this page, ;The Evening Hymn,; shows the girls resident in St. Catherine's South, commencing their devotional exercises previous to retiring to their dormitories for the night. The hymn is always sung with much fervour and devotion, and is a delightful link between the day that is passed and the night that is closing in. The other illustrations show some of the girls writing their letters home, and a group of children who, by well doing, have earned the privilege of going into the village to spend their little savings or gifts received from friends and others. The title ;Going Shopping,; printed under the picture, will convey to all who have knowledge of young people, to say nothing of those of mature years, something of the pleasure anticipated.

Industrial Occupations.
In our previous remarks we have referred to the children at play, at School, and at recreation. On this and the two following pages are pictures showing girls at laundry and bread-making classes, making material into garments for use in the Colony, others weaving, sorting and cutting yarn, others sorting sheep's wool, carding, skeining, spinning, and weaving it into material.

All our boys, except about a dozen, being under ten years of age, industrial occupations for them are at the moment necessarily limited. Most of those who are over that age are, as the pictures on page 39 indicate, engaged in gardening or domestic occupations.

Industrial occupations are part of the scheme of training already referred to, and further developments will come as the Colony grows. Future editions of this publication will contain references to much that is now in its infancy, but which, when developed, will tend to the greater comfort and well being of the community at Stoke Park.