The North Wales Hospital Patient Index

January 30, 2015

We are very pleased to announce that we now have an online patient index for the North Wales Hospital in Denbigh (1848-1914) which means for the first time, researchers can now search the collection by patient name.

The North Wales Hospital

HD/1/452 – Architect’s impression of the North Wales Hospital, 1847

The index has been created using the surviving patient reception orders for pauper patients only. We hope to have a similar index for private patients available soon.

The aim of this project was to create an alphabetical patient index for the North Wales Hospital (Denbigh Asylum) to enable researchers to search for patients online. Reception orders are bundled in chronological sequence and we have never before been able to search the collection by name. This database now allows us to search surviving records for patients admitted between 1848 and 1914 by name and easily identify if a patient had multiple admissions to the hospital.

The patient index for the North Wales Hospital has been completed thanks to the work of dedicated volunteers listing the patient reception orders dated between 1848 and 1914. This project has taken two years to complete (2013-2014) and has involved over 15 volunteers looking at over 8000 records to create a database of basic information which include patient name, admission date, age on admission, date of discharge or death, occupation and union (i.e. the union paying for their treatment) or address in the case of private patients.

Due to NHS rules, hospital records are closed to public inspection for 100 years. We plan to add to the database annually as records become available.

Omissions and gaps in the records

We were aware that some reception orders were missing before the project began and can confirm that 228 out of 8373 records are missing from the series up to December 1914 (2.72%). It is unclear why these records did not get transferred to the archives; some may simply have been lost or the paperwork may have been transferred with the patient to other asylums across the country.

Some information may be unavailable in the spreadsheet due to a number of reasons-

  1. The original reception order may not contain the information because it was not known at the time it was completed. For example, the patient themselves may not have known their exact ages, or the spelling of an unusual name may have been unclear.
  2. The original reception order may be illegible. For example in some cases it is difficult to differentiate between a number 3 and 5.

Although care was taken to avoid any mistakes being made, there may inevitably be some mistakes such as typing or transcription errors. We would strongly recommend consulting the original record either by requesting a copy or visiting our searchroom to confirm that all details are correct.

Search the index and find out more here.

Denbighshire Archives- 2014 Review

January 7, 2015


The biggest change for the Archives in 2014 was the early retirement of our senior archivist, Jane Brunning. Ms Brunning dedicated 33 years to the office, initially working for Clwyd County Council and then Denbighshire County Council after 1996. Some of her many achievements include-

  • Completion of the Porter catalogue
  • Development of the online indexes
  • Re-locating all the collections during the HLF funded project to redevelop Ruthin Gaol as a museum and archive building
  • Overseeing a large grant-funded project to conserve a number of North Wales Hospital records
  • A number of talks and lectures over the years to many local history and community groups

The staff will be very sorry to lose Jane and wish her all the best for retired life.

Researchers and Enquiries

1252 researchers used our office during 2014 consulting 3662 original documents. Local history is the most popular subject for research accounting for 49% of our researchers, closely followed by family history accounting for 40% of researchers. Other reasons for research include school and college students, teaching professionals carrying out research for lessons and lectures, researchers working on publications and legal/official enquiries.

Some of the main projects we have seen our researchers complete using our collections this year are;

  • Completion of a publication entitled “The History of Ruthin”
  • A history of Wrexham schools
  • Case study of the North Wales Hospital architechtural lanscape

We answered 927 enquiries by post, email or telephone.

Events and Groups

809 visitors attended our events during 2014 including Open Doors  in September, school visits during Febuary and November and bedtime stories during ‘Museums at Night’. In total 15 public events were held onsite and 5 events took place elsewhere in the county, including schools.

A number of local groups visited us for a talk or tour including the Llanrhaeadr and Cynwyd Women’s Institutes, Corwen Local History Group and Glyndwr University students.

The archives has been involved in a number of filming projects including filming for Hollywood film “Suffragette” due for release during 2015 and the S4C television series “Darn Bach o Hanes”.

Cataloguing and Accessions

You can keep an eye on our new accessions on The National Archives survey here.

50 new accessions were recorded during the year including;

  • Records of Ysgol Twm o’r Nant, Denbigh (ED/24- additional collection)
  • Bryneglwys Parish Records (PD/11 – additional collection)
  • Records of Ysgol Dyffryn Ial (ED/45-  additional collection)
  • Photograph album of Ruthin County School for Girls (DD/DM/1840)
  • The Vivod Estate collection transferred from Flintshire Record Office (DD/V)
  • Chirk Parish Records (PD/19-additional collection)
  • Reports of the County Medical Officer of Health (1951-1955) (CD/H/1/4-5)
  • Records of The United Church in Rhyl (previously known as the English Congregational Church) (ND/178)

A number cataloguing projects were completed in 2014 including the papers of the Fraser-Roberts family of Foxhall (DD/F)


We now have 14 regular volunteers helping us with numerous ongoing projects such as:

  • Cleaning records
  • Creating a searchable index of the North Wales Hospital patients
  • Improvement and digitisation of the catalogues for our school records

In total our volunteers have contributed over 500 hours of volunteer time during 2014. We have had 2 students on work experience placements.

Thank you to all our researchers and volunteers, we have had a very productive and busy year!


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