Monday, 2 May 2011

Remembering the Forgotten - West Ridings Pauper Lunatic Asylum

High Royds Asylum in West Yorkshire first opened in 1888 as the West Ridings Pauper Lunatic Asylum, and finally closed in 2003. The site is now under conversion into an accommodation village, and therefore most of the original asylum building is locked down and completely unaccessible. The hospital has been the focus of musical attention, with the Kaiser Chiefs writing a song called "Highroyds" and Kasabian naming their album West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum.

Through the bluebell carpeted woods, lies the hospital pump-house. The woods, despite being colourful and bright, still possess a very sombre atmosphere - as many of the asylum patients escaped into the woods to hang themselves.

The newly refurbished Memorial Garden lies along the side of the railway, and to anybody looking in, they would see what looks like an empty field. This "empty field" is in fact a burial ground for 2861 people from the asylum, lying in unmarked graves. There are only 4 headstones in the entire cemetary. Sadly, some of the famillies were too poor to take the bodies back and give them a proper funeral, so the bodies were buried here. Even sadder is the fact that madness was seen to be hereditary, so some family left their patient at the asylum never to be thought of again.

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