Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

On the trail of a survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade

August 1, 2019

Last year the office was contacted by Clive and Barbara Petty of Caerwys, who wished to view records associated with Dolben Hall, near St Asaph. This initially appeared to be a house history enquiry, however, upon further discussion it was revealed that their research was linked to a survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade.

Captain Thomas Everard Hutton of the 4th (The Queen's Own) Light Dragoons.

Captain Thomas Everard Hutton of the 4th (The Queen’s Own) Light Dragoons. Courtesy of the Council of the National Army Museum.

Their interest in this particular soldier was sparked by a flyer for an Open Doors event at St George’s Church, Rhos-on-Sea, which revealed it contained an inscription commemorating a soldier who took part in the infamous cavalry charge of 1854. That soldier turned out to be Captain Thomas Hutton of the 4th Light Dragoons.  During the charge Hutton was shot in his right leg during the advance and in the left leg on the return.  Sadly, his horse was hit eleven times and had to be destroyed.

After visiting the church Clive and Barbara then set out to learn more about Captain Hutton , who was born in Yorkshire in 1821, and try to establish his links with a church on the North Wales coast, and why the interior of church was designed by his daughter, Violet.

Their initial research was aided by notes complied by local researcher, Alan S Nipper, which informed them that after leaving the army, Hutton married Maria Georgina Everard of Middleton near Kings Lynn, Norfolk in 1865 and added her surname to his own to give him the name Thomas Everard Hutton.

A visit to Flintshire Record Office revealed that Hutton and his family had once lived in the area as parish registers revealed that between 1860 and 1867 four of his children, including Violet, were baptised in Henllan, and that their home address was given as Dolben, Llanefydd. Their research also suggests that during their time in Denbighshire, Hutton met with many of the landed families of the area including those from Bodelwyddan, Pengwern, Cefn, Plas Heaton and Kinmel.

They then contacted Denbighshire Archives, where their initial enquiry suggested that we held a letter written by Hutton to his wife. Yet, much to our disappointment, when Clive and Barbara came to the office to view the letter we discovered that the letter had been withdrawn by the depositor.  Whilst at the archive they gained access to census records which enabled them to increase their knowledge of the family.

After their time in North Wales the majority of the family moved to Bath, where Hutton eventually died in 1896. As part of their research, Clive and Barbara made the journey to Hutton’s grave at Locksbrook Cemetery.  They have also visited the National Army Museum, which holds Hutton’s sword and saddle, and the National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London.  It was here that they located the letter from Hutton to his wife which they had originally hoped to see at Denbighshire Archives.

It appears that the family’s association with North Wales did not end there as the 1891 census reveals that Violet and her husband, Enoch Evans, were living at The Vicarage in St Asaph. They remained in the area until their deaths.  The family connection to St George’s Church goes further as the church also commemorates the sons of Enoch and Violet.   Noel Everard Evans died in France during the First World War whilst serving with the Royal Artillery, and thanks is given for the safe return of Morgan Paget Evans who served with the British Expeditionary Force at Mons, Marne, Aisne and Ypres.

Clive and Barbara have clearly found their research very enlightening and rewarding, commenting that their ‘initial curiosity into a survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade has led to a very interesting glimpse into a wider history of that era’ and that it has also illustrated to them the importance of archives and the significant role they can play in the ‘greater understanding of society in times gone by.’

Kerry Evans, Archivist

Entertaining Patients in the North Wales Hospital

July 5, 2019

In the first years of the North Wales Hospital staff frequently complained they were unable to find suitable recreation and amusement for patients. Just how did staff keep hundreds of patients from different backgrounds entertained, and how did this entertainment change throughout the hospitals lifetime?

When the hospital was originally built the idea of patient entertainment had not been considered. It was only when the first patients began to inhabit the hospital that the omission was realised. In 1849 the Medical Officer requested that a number of outdoor entertainments for patients be created. He requested that a portion of the land be allocated and developed into a bowling green. With the assistance of patient labour a bowling green, skittle ground, and flower garden for private patients were opened in 1851. Patients also went on guided walks into the surrounding countryside, this practice continued and the sight of large numbers of patients walking through the area would have been a familiar site to local people in the late 19th century.

Outdoor recreation remained an important part of life in the hospital throughout its history. The hospital had its own staff and patient cricket and football teams, and male patients were admitted to local league games free of charge. The summer months also provided opportunities for other outdoor entertainments such as an annual sports day, garden fêtes and flower shows.


The hospital football team during the 1919-1920 season. Copyright Helsby of Denbigh.

When the weather was less than favourable patients had to seek indoor entertainment. Following the success of the first annual Christmas ball a weekly dance was introduced, which proved popular with patients. In 1902 a new dining hall and recreation room was added to the hospital, now in addition to dances patients also enjoyed concerts, choirs and drama productions. Patients also had the chance to play various indoor games such as whist, bingo, and chess.

As technologies developed so too did the entertainment opportunities available to patients. In 1914 two gramophones and a cinematograph were purchased. The Medical Superintendent commented in the 1915 annual report that “nineteen cinema shows have taken place during the winter. No other form of entertainment has created such an interest amongst the inmates”. The cinematograph certainly did prove very popular amongst patients, and the hospital continued to have twice weekly cinema shows. By 1954 each ward had its own radio and television, which would have been a luxury for those patients who would not have had a television at home.


A weekly bulletin showing the types of indoor and outdoor recreational activities available to patients, 1966.

Patients also had leisure opportunities outside of the hospital grounds. In the 1950s as well as picnics to nearby beaches in Rhyl and Pensarn, the hospital was involved in a patient holiday exchange programme with other hospitals in Wales and England. During their visit the transferred patients would enjoy a range of activities such as games, films, and day trips around the local area. An itinerary for patients and staff from Central Hospital in Warwick who visited the North Wales Hospital in 1961, shows that activities included watching films, walks to Denbigh castle, and square dancing. Day trips included a visit to Chester Races, and a trip to Snowdonia.

Lindsey Sutton

Project Archivist (Unlocking the Asylum)