Exhibition panel 1.

Epsom’s cluster of five psychiatric hospitals was the largest in Europe. Built for 10,000 patients, it almost doubled the town’s population. It became the largest employer in Epsom, pioneered psychiatric treatments, and drew in staff from all over the world.

For some people who lived and worked in the hospitals, it was a place of purpose, friendship, security, and sometimes recovery. Others suffered from, or rebelled against, the constraints of institutional life.

I was never sure if the wall was there to keep them in or us out” Clive Driscoll, neighbourhood Police Officer

Long-stay patients would have abandoned their suitcases on arrival, and entered a different life. Visitors to the exhibition were similarly invited to leave behind the baggage of what they already knew, and respond to what they heard and read.

The exhibition is based on 26 oral history interviews with people whose lives were touched by the hospitals. The exhibition was arranged to resemble a corridor and as visitors walked along it – that universal experience of hospital life – they met former patients, staff, their families and other Epsom residents. Many other voices are still missing; these absences and silences reveal their own story.

Visitors were invited to share their own experiences. Join a conversation about what the hospitals meant for the people of Epsom, and still mean today. Leave a comment on the form below or contact the project team: [email protected]

Listen to Recordings Here

Read more about the Epsom Cluster.

Find out more about the project.

Click on the following links to see the exhibition panels created by the project team: