Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

‘Unlocking the Asylum’ Project- A Case of Unrequited Love

April 17, 2019

Whilst looking recently at one of our patient case books, staff working on the Unlocking the Asylum project came across an interesting diagnosis. Often seen with more prominence amongst the female case notes is what is termed as ‘love affairs’ or ‘love disappointment’.

Ann Beatrice Ward, a private patient, was admitted into the asylum on 9th July 1890 aged 25, diagnosed with mania, the supposed cause of this was recorded as love disappointment. Her case notes reveal that before entering the asylum she was delusional and incoherent of speech, she attempted to burn herself with a candle, and once went wandering the streets at 3am in her nightdress. Upon her assessment at the asylum Doctors wrote that she was:

“full of delusions but they have a direct connection with the most important one being that she is engaged to her Music Teacher, and that their marriage has been ordained in Heaven, and that although he has never proposed to her, she knows it through a particular hymn which she hears at Church”.

Ann’s case file, detailing her behaviour leading up to her admission.

Ann’s case file, detailing her behaviour leading up to her admission.

The case notes go one to provide descriptions of her at intervals during her time at the hospital, in Aug 1890 she is described as lazy and indolent, in November 1890 it is noted that she accused the nurses of all sort of fancied slights and insults, and that she is selfish and self-willed. On 16th Apr 1891 on the orders of her Father she was transferred to Portsmouth Asylum, the case notes stating that none at the asylum regretted the steps he was taking.

What makes this case particularly interesting to look at is that included amongst the case notes is a letter written by Ann herself, so it gives us an opportunity to hear from Ann in her own words. What’s quite unique about this particular letter is a little flower which has been pressed between the pages and has remained there all this time. The letter is written to someone called Johnny L. who we can presume is the gentlemen that Ann believed she was engaged to. In the letter she writes

A letter written by Ann to her music teacher in July 1890, including a pressed flower.

A letter written by Ann to her music teacher in July 1890, including a pressed flower.

“My dear Johnny L. I don’t know what you would do if you were here. I see nothing quite right, if only I were home again, it’s rather sad when you come to think of it, being in an asylum without knowing the reason for what I’m here”.

Ann was discharged from the Portsmouth Asylum on 6th July 1891, unfortunately after this date we have no further information of what happened to her.

Lindsey Sutton

Project Archivist (Unlocking the Asylum)


Denbighshire Archives – Review 2018

April 16, 2019

Once again, the year was a busy and productive one for the team at Denbighshire Archives.

Notable highlights were the successful events which we held here at the archive, which included our Open Doors event and our inaugural Cinema Night, which saw us screen the 2015 film, Suffragette, which was partially shot in the archive.

During the year the desire to work collaboratively with the other North Wales archive services has gathered pace, with a notable increase in the amount of joint-working between Denbighshire and Flintshire. This included a joint event at Rhyl Library which formed part of Rhyl History month, and a talk from our ‘Unlocking the Asylum’ project archivist, Lindsey Sutton, to Flintshire’s ‘Celebrating Flintshire Women Past and Present’ event held at their archive, in Hawarden.



Gaol Cell Cinema at the archive


We have welcomed two new faces to the team this year, Kerry joined us in May, to provide maternity cover for Sarah, and Liz joined the search room team in July. We are pleased to announce that Sarah had a baby girl in the summer.


1356 people have registered on the website and we have had over 153,000 page views this year.
We now have 90% of our catalogues available to search in full online. This year we have been focusing on adding our minor deposits (DD/DM). Our virtual volunteers are continuing to work really hard on these.

Research and enquiries

728 researchers used our office during 2018 consulting 2041 original documents. Family History has been the most popular topic of research this year accounting for 47% of our researchers. Local History was the second most popular accounting for 34% of our researchers.
We have answered 891 enquiries by post, email or telephone, and our number of Facebook followers has risen to 876.


We received a £4000 grant from Archives and Record Council Wales for a Preservation Assessment Survey. This will inform and highlight the preservation and conservation needs of the collections we hold. This was carried out by consult conservators Preservation Matters Ltd.

Events and groups

A total of 578 visitors attended our events during 2018. This included our Open Doors event in September, the Cinema Night in November, a visit from Ruthin Historical Society, WW1 exhibition at St Peter’s, Ruthin, a visit from Clwyd Arts Trust, and our annual visit from Glyndwr University history students.


Visit of Ruthin Historical Society

Cataloguing and Accessions

24 new accessions were recorded during the year including records of:

Rhyl Chamber of Trade and Commerce (DD/DM/1926)
LG Sherratt Papers (DD/DM/1037 additional)
Llanferres Community Council (PCD/57 additional)
James Edward Jones Scholarship (DD/DM/1941)
Rhyl Folk Club DD/DM/1935
Llysfasi Agricultural College DD/DM/1937
Emrys Roberts Papers DD/DM/1938
Photographs from ‘Dragon Times’, North Wales Tourist Newspaper (DD/DM/1928)
The History of the Buildings of Ruthin by DG Evans (DD/DM/1932)
Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod (DD/LE additional)



Aron Roberts working on the Building Control Plans for Colwyn Bay


We now have 13 onsite volunteers and 7 active virtual volunteers helping us with numerous ongoing projects such as:

Box listing of the large collection of Clerk’s papers.
Retrospective conversion of minor deposit catalogues.
Document cleaning.
Auditing and re-packaging collections.

We also had Aron Roberts with us during the summer, who was here to gain some experience of archival work prior to undertaking a Masters in Archive Administration at Aberystwyth University. Whilst here, Aron assessed the condition and made improvements to the catalogue of our large collection of Building Control Plans for Colwyn Bay. During his time with us Aron has made a really positive impression on us all and we wish him well with his studies.

In total our volunteers have contributed over 1040 hours of volunteer time during 2018.

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