Institutions: Living Away From Home

Life in some of Surrey’s Victorian and Edwardian residential institutions

'The Kitchen of a Common Lodging House' from The Graphic, April 24 1886, p.445.

‘The Kitchen of a Common Lodging House’ from The Graphic, April 24 1886, p.445.

These pages look at three kinds of residential institutions in the county: a mental hospital; a boys public school; and several common lodging houses for the poor. They focus on Holloway Sanatorium, a mental hospital for the middle classes at Virginia Water; Charterhouse, a public school for boys near Godalming; and common lodging houses in Redhill, Chertsey and Staines.

Postcard showing the exterior of Charterhouse in 1903. Private collection.

Postcard showing the exterior of Charterhouse in 1903.
Private collection.

Many people live outside the family home in special residential institutions. These pages look at what it was like to live in some of these establishments in Surrey, during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Find out how these places were organised and decorated and glimpse how some of the people who lived there reacted to their surroundings.


From Holloway Sanatorium, St Anne’s Heath, Virginia Water.
Rules for the admission, visiting and discharge of patients,

not dated but about 1890, Surrey History Centre, 2620/6/11.

In the Victorian period there was a dramatic increase in institutional places where large numbers of inmates could reside for short or longer periods of time. The expansion of the military, the relief of the poor, the punishment of criminals, the treatment of the mentally and physically ill, and the education of children were all subject to increasing intervention from charities and the government.  This led to a more systematic approach to residential provision outside of the home.  Hospitals, workhouses, prisons and schools were now often purpose built.  The buildings were designed to control access and prevent fire and the spread of disease but the environments, decoration and rules were also intended to modify the behaviour of their inhabitants. The combination of open space and proximity to London encouraged the building of such establishments in Surrey.


Royal Holloway University of London logo

Useful Links
Use the links to the left to explore this on-line exhibition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *