RECORDS OF THE LITTLEMORE ASYLUM

Scope and Content

Littlemore Asylum opened in 1846 and was the first provision for pauper lunatics in the county. It was originally under the jurisdiction of the magistrates of the Oxfordshire Quarter Sessions and later of the County Council. The City of Oxford for a Union with the County in Decmber 1846 agreeing to pay a share of the cost of building and maintaining the asylum in return for a fixed number of beds for their own lunatics. Berkshire joined this Union in August 1847, bringing with it the boroughs of Abingdon and Windsor, and Reading also joined in January 1848. These additions to the Union necessitated additions to the buildings themselves and two new wings were built in 1848. The Union however was dissolved in 1869 when Reading wholly withdrew and Berkshire partly withdrew as their own Berkshire Asylum opened in 1870. Abingdon withdrew from the new Union in 1890 and Windsor in 1897. The less in partners though did not lessen the pressure for new beds; there were extensions in 1883 and 1901. During the First World War the Asylum was transformed from May 1918 - Aug 1920 into the Ashurst War Hospital, and in the Second World War the military took over some of the wards. The asylum (called The Oxford County and City Mental Hospital from 1922) was transferred to the control of the National Health Service in 1948.

The earliest records in this collection are those which belonged to J M Davenport, the first Clerk to the Committee of Visitors (hereafter the C of V). These were originally deposited in the Bodleian Library but were transferred to Oxfordshire Archives in 1968 (Acc.742). The remainder of the collection has its provenance in County Hall; many of the financial records were deposited by the office of the County Treasurer and the records of the C of V were probably held in the office of the Clerk of the Council as he often doubled up as Clerk to the C of V. These would have been transferred to the Record Office when the National Health Service took over the running of the asylum in 1948.

The records themselves can be split into 3 parts:

- The administrative records of the Committee of Visitors including minute books, reports and correspondence

- The financial records of the different accounts of the Asylum

- Various plans and specifications of building work in the Asylum

Other records concerning Littlemore Asylum are kept in the following repositories:

Oxford City Archives:

Lists of patients 1847-1884

Rules of asylum 1846

Superintendents reports 1849, 1865, 1868

Visitors' reports 1849, 1853, 1854, 1859, 1861, 1870

Report of building committee to Committee of Visitors re improvements to asylum 1853

Oxfordshire Health Archives:

Annual reports 1847-1967

Reports of Committee of Visitors 1887-1969

Medical Superintendent's Report Books 1898-1967

Administrative patient records 1846-1979

Case records 1846-1928 [fragmentary records to 1956]

Staff records 1882-1972 [not complete]

Chaplain's journals 1906-1931, 1944-1956

Records of League of Friends 1961-2000

Plans of buildings 1844-1938

Hospital magazines 1954-1957, 1968-1987 [not complete]

N.B. Where the term 'Union' is udes in this catalogue it refers to the Union of those participating counties and boroughs who shared the cost of maintaining the asylum ans who sent their pauper lunatics to it.

Administrative / Biographical History

Administrative History

Littlemore Asylum opened in 1846 and was the first provision for pauper lunatics in the county. It was originally under the jurisdiction of the magistrates of the Oxfordshire Quarter Sessions and later of the County Council. The City of Oxford formed a Union with the County in December 1846 agreeing to pay a share of the cost of building and maintaining the asylum in return for a fixed number of beds for their own lunatics. Berkshire joined this Union in August 1847, bringing with it the boroughs of Abingdon and Windsor and Reading also joined in January 1848. These additions to the Union necessitated additions to the buildings themselves and two new wings were built in 1848. The Union however was dissolved in 1869 when Reading wholly withdrew and Berkshire partly withdrew as their own Berkshire Asylum opened in 1870. Abingdon withdrew from the new Union in 1890 and Windsor in 1897. The loss in partners though did not lessen the pressure for new beds; there were extensions in 1883 and 1901. During the First World War the Asylum was transformed from May 1918-Aug 1920 into the Ashurst War Hospital, and in the Second World War the military took over some of the wards. The asylum (called The Oxford County and City Mental Hospital from 1922) was transferred to the control of the National Health Service in 1948.

N.B. Where the term "Union" is used in this catalogue it refers to the Union of those participating counties and boroughs who shared the cost of maintaining the asylum and who sent their pauper lunatics to it.

Access Information

Some records may be closed under the Data Protection Act, please see the individual records for more details.

Custodial History

Archival History

The earliest records in this collection are those which belonged to J M Davenport, the first Clerk to the Committee of Visitors. This were originally deposited in the Bodleian Library but were transferred to Oxfordshire Archives in 1968. (Acc.742). The remainder of the collection has its provenance in County Hall; many of the financial records were deposited by the office of the County Treasurer and the records of the Committee of Visitors were probably held in the office of the Clerk to the Council as he often doubled up as Clerk to the Committee of Visitors. These would have been transfered to the Record Office when the National Health Service took over the running of the asylum in 1948.