Project Description

The Lunacy of War: Whittingham Asylum in WW1 & Beyond

The Lunacy of War Conference held at the Museum of Lancashire, focussed on the impact of World War One on Whittingham and was the final event in the two-year programme delivered by Whittingham Lives Association. The conference attracted over 50 delegates from members of the public, mental health service users and carers, former Whittingham Hospital staff, mental health professionals and academic historians.

The audience heard from members of the project about the immense impact of shell shock on the fighting capacity of the British Army in WW1, and how this pressured the asylum system in Britain; how women patients asserted their individual identities by making and wearing elaborate lace collars – a practice unique to the institution; how two conscientious objectors became long stay patients at Whittingham and of the rise of Nursing Trade Unionism and the increasing dependence on women in the workforce at the hospital as the war progressed.

Keynote Speaker, Louise Hide, Wellcome Trust Research Fellow & Social Historian at Birkbeck, University of London, gave a moving lecture on the deprivations and institutional neglect suffered by many thousands of asylum patients in Britain during WW1 and how this produced a cycle of recurrent neglect in mental institutions that has continued to the present day.

Click here onto The Lunacy of War: Whittingham Asylum in WW1 & Beyond conference programme for further information on the key speakers and their presentations.