The Royal Earlswood Asylum, Redhill, Archives

The Royal Earlswood Hospital, formerly known as Earlswood Asylum for Idiots and Imbeciles, was founded in 1847. The hospital closed in 1997.

Read more about the history of Royal Earlswood and one of it’s famous inmates, James Henry Pullen.

Important: please note that any patient records less than 100 years old and staff records less than 75 years old are likely to have access restrictions. Individual records are not available to view through this website. For details on viewing records please see the Access To Mental Hospital Records page.

The main accession numbers to find records for Royal Earlswood Asylum at Surrey History Centre are 392, 6523, 6817 and 7338. Click on the links to see the individual catalogues of these accessions which provide item descriptions.

The principal series of records held at Surrey History Centre relating to individual patients are as follows, although there are gaps in some series.

Admission Registers, 1857-1992

These registers provide details of number in order of admission; date of admission; fore and surname; class of admission; previous occupation and place of abode; by whose authority the patient was sent; date of medical certificate; bodily condition and form of mental disorder; supposed cause of insanity; date of discharge or death.

Case Books, 1854-1966

The books give detailed description of the abilities and disabilities of the patients on arrival, their family circumstances (whether parents were alive, the number of brothers and sisters, patient’s order in the family) and periodic reports on the progress of the case. Photographs of the inmates are occasionally included. A note was entered on death or discharge, with, occasionally, a short assessment of the development of the patient.

Medical Journals, 1893-1964

These registers, show number and names of inmates under medical treatment; cause of illness; cause of death; with cross references to the Post Mortem and Mechanical Restraint Books.  Registers from 1895 to 1902 give particulars of restraint and seclusion.

Registers of Deaths, 1878-1922 and 1855-1960

Registers, showing date of death; name; sex; age; profession; residence; cause of death.

Staff Records, 1868-1995

16 thoughts on “The Royal Earlswood Asylum, Redhill, Archives”

  1. Colin Wells says:

    Disgusted at “Queens Hidden Cousins” Tele last night. So many facts all wrong. Similar Jimmy Wales Wikimedia Far from Correct. I was born at the end of Princes Rd 1933.We,My mother and I treasured The Royal Earlswood and patients until she passed away in 1967 family Mrs Victoria Honorine Wells as Governess (Original name Crowther). I have a lifetime of wonderful memories and honest stories of Earlwood “Asylum”and the patients. The programme last night should be classed as ILLEGAL with so many untruths

  2. We welcome contributions and comments from members of the public and want to create an opportunity for discussion and debate around the material held in the archives. In this instance the programme producers contacted Surrey History Centre about the Royal Earlswood Asylum records. Although they visited the History Centre to consult the surviving records of Royal Earlswood, the views expressed in ‘The Queen’s Hidden Cousins’ television programme made by Minnow Films for Channel 4 were those of the producers and are not those of Surrey County Council or Surrey History Centre. Surrey History Centre holds an extensive archive relating to the Royal Earlswood Asylum. Although many of them are open to public inspection, access restrictions do apply to some items, particularly patient records that are less than a hundred years old. For details of how to visit us to consult our collections, or request permission to view restricted material, please email us on [email protected].

  3. Colin Wells says:

    I walked and talked amongst the patients since and during my school days for over 20 years. Never had I heard or witnessed any abuse or harm come to any of the inmates. My mother became Governess in her latter days. The “Asylum Hall” was full every week with patients singing their hearts out. My mother was a fantastic organist. It was lovely. The program last night “The Queens Hidden Cousins” including terrible pictures and places were completely incorrect. My Grandfather and then my father were the “Asylum Farm Bailiff”. My mother was to marry a hospital gentleman – namely Braithwaite – until her father objected to him because he was Scottish.- thus she married Mr Cecil Wells – my father. The Hospital and “Asylum” were always spotless and cleaned by patients every morning and evening.

  4. Gemma Glover says:

    I myself as a child spent time visting a relative that was at Earlswood from a child himself, no one can comment on what happens ‘behind the scenes’ of a home but i never saw or our family never thought my Uncle was in any harm as there was nothing but love and kindness in that home. Memories of the ‘Tuck shop’ are fond to me, when taking my relative out on days he never refused to return ‘quite the contrary’ always wanting to return with a smile.
    A TV wouldn’t get viewing if it had no ‘drama’ attached. No doubt staff had a difficult job to do daily
    Regards.

  5. APRIL ATKINS says:

    I am just wondering if anyone can remember part of Earlswood being a hostel for people waiting to be rehoused i and my mother and 2 sisters and brother were there in 1960 or 1961 i cannot remember for how long but my sister was taken away from there with pneumonia and i remember having a party in the downstairs big hall organised i assume by the staff and there was a local newspaper article on this which my mother kept with the photograph but has since during the past years lost unfortunatley,just hoping someone might remember ot if anyone like us had stayed there waiting to be rehoused ,we were rehoused in Sutton Surrey.

  6. Andrew Morley says:

    I worked at royal earlswood as a domestic from 1982 to 1990 with a couple of breaks it was my first job and one I will never ever forget. I miss the patients and some of the staff my mother Joyce Morley who cleaned the nurses training school felt the same. I lost count of the times we walked past the place with the dogs, guaranteed we’d start talking about someone mad or not. Well worth the low pay. Pity there weren’t
    more photos of how it was on the net

    1. david osmond says:

      my fathers brother leslie ososki was at earleswood from the age of approx. 18 until he died in his late seventies. i visited him twice with my father. leslie was tenderley cared for sent monthly pocket moner for sweets etc. and visited by my father and another brother at least every 3 months taken ot for tea and walks . leslie was a pretty good artist and would often send pencilled or crayon sketches to ou so it was a mystery why he was there.family. he would frequently send us post cards and seemed mentally at least to me to be o.k . he died approx 1962 3 or 4 and left 500 pounds to my sister and i.

      1. Peter Collins says:

        I worked at the the RHS as a Community Service Volunteer for a year in the late 70s. I remember Mr Ososki very well, and particularly his wonderful pictures. He was a delightful, gentle man as I remember him. I don’t know if this is true of Mr Ososki, but several patients had been at the RHS for many decades – some after being gassed during the First World War. Some of the wards must have been very difficult to work on. However, my over-riding memories of the RHS are happy ones.

    2. Tony says:

      Did you go to Redstone School?

  7. Steve Wise says:

    The Royal Earlswood was my springboard to 42 years of psychiatric nursing. It was a steep learning curve for a 23year old salesman. We worked hard to do the best we could for our patients, we had to due to staffing levels. 1970s saw some major changes in attitude to psychiatry and treatments. Behaviour modification worked as did fuller assessments. We only scratched the surface and the work continues. We still know nothing and there are no experts. That is a quote from a consultant at R.E.H. Steve

  8. Paula says:

    I worked at the hospital aged 16 as a carer in the 80’s with no experience or qualifications and i will never forget it. I often wondered what happened to all the people who were apparently put back in the community . One such resident was called ‘the gentle giant’ as he was super tall & a lovely old intelligent gentleman on my ward . I still wonder what kind of life did he endure in his final years back in the communtity. We chatted a lot . Next to him sat a man who would punch people , eat the fish from the fish tanks and stomp around. This made me very uneasy that actually people who were just slow with learning or had seen a vision of Jesus for example when they were young were living in the same ward with people who were clearly very mentally disturbed . This would take its toll on anyones mind that i can be sure !! All the residents by the time i was there had lived there all /most of their lives and i knew even without nursing qualifications they would really struggle in the community . I was shocked how the patients were treated at my time there with unexperienced carers such as myself but i understood it was hard to give them privacy and the care they deserved in such big dormitories . The residents who were very mentally ill or so severely physically damaged that i saw with my own eyes ( in the villas) i cannot fathom where they would be put in the community. I mean no disrespect to those who worked there who really cared about the residents & those that were qualified but this part of my life has always haunted me & left me wondering what really happened to the residents ! When i see the old buildings which are now apartments lived in by the wealthy i feel very uneasy about this story & conclusion .

  9. Cyberfox24 says:

    I grew up in Earlsbrook Road my friends and I aways used to ride our bikes around the grounds of the Royal Earlswood, I remember always seeing some of the patients walk past my house, they were harmless enough I even started to talking to a few of them, I was a shame when the closed the hospital and turned it into apartments – My mum and my step dad were going to buy on of the apartments but thankfully the apartment they saw had the windows high up and my mother couldn’t reach it to open!

  10. Nancy says:

    It is good to read these attributes. My grandfather was Medical Superintendent up to his death and before I was born. I visited the place with my father in 1946 or 1947 He was brought up there and some of the patients remembered him. Everyone seemed to have a job to do and there were cricket matches and dances. Civilisation moves on and it was sold and done up as luxury flats. Apparently a large proportion of the prison population suffer mental illness. One does wonder..
    I

  11. Sandra Holmes says:

    My Grandad was the farmer at Royal Earleswood Hospital where my brother and myself spent many happy child hood memories with him and the animals, he was there until the farm closed and then my Mother began her Mental Nurse Training there and these were the happiest memories we can have, taking the dog for a walk along the Canadian Road to the copse and across the field – lovely.
    He live in a farm cottage overlooking the three arches

  12. Sarah says:

    I myself am too young to really remember when earlswood was fuctioning. But i work in a care home im redhill where most of our services users came from earlswood when it closed.
    One very able service user often talks about earlswood. He had a nice time there but he does have some very sad memories about the treatment of some of his friends that went there.
    Someone earlier mentioned they wonder what happened to these guys when it closed… I’m pretty sure most went on to live in care homes in the surrounding areas 🙂

  13. Heather Crossley says:

    I was a 16 year old in the 1960’s when Dr David Anderson asked me to make some model nurses for a new museum they were setting up.My mother wouldn’t let my name be on them in case anyone thought l was a patient. Such stigma, then. I saw the dolls in a window in Redhill town centre once..one even had my hair on it as l had run out of fake hair !

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