The Retreat, Yorkshire, hospital

Identity area

Type of entity

Corporate body

Authorized form of name

The Retreat, Yorkshire, hospital

Parallel form(s) of name

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence

1796-

History

The Retreat is historically one of the most important centres for the care and treatment of the insane

It was founded by, and for, the Society of Friends and opened in 1796. The moving spirit in its foundation was William Tuke, a tea dealer from York. He pressed for a Quaker facility for Friends suffering from mental illness after learning that a Yorkshire Quaker woman, Hannah Mills, had died at the York Lunatic Asylum in 1791 without the Quaker community being allowed to see or minister to her. The Tuke family was closely and personally involved with the foundation and the running of the Retreat for its first fifty years: William Tuke and his grandson Samuel Tuke were particularly active in Retreat management and both gained a reputation as experts in the field of asylum provision

The Retreat quickly attracted attention for the astonishing success of its pioneering mild methods of treatment of the insane, under its lay superintendent, George Jepson (Superintendent 1797-1823). The Retreat became famous, and its influence on the development of the treatment of the insane in this country, America, and elsewhere, was immense

In the mid nineteenth century the Retreat became much more like other middle class asylums in terms of staffing, facilities and approach. It became a Registered Hospital for the Insane under the 1845 Lunatics Act. From the early nineteenth century onwards, patients were a mixture of Quakers and private middle class patients of all denominations. The fees paid by the latter were used to subsidise poorer Quaker patients as well as forming a resource which allowed the Retreat to continue its work. The lay nature of its early therapies and therapists was superseded by a medically centred management after the appointment of a resident surgeon in 1839 who became the first medical superintendent after the 1845 Act. The Quaker identity of the Retreat continued, however, through its governing body, its superintendents and many of its staff. Special fundraising efforts for further buildings and facilities were well supported by the Quaker community at large

The concerns and problems at the Retreat in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century mirrored those at other asylums. There were increasing numbers of chronic patients, there were strains between resources and the desire to expand accommodation in order to treat different types of patients on a more clearly classified system, and there was a need to continually modernise in order to compete in the middle class asylum market. But the Retreat had some advantages compared with other institutions. It has always been relatively small in size: opening with a dozen patients in 1796, it had around 40 by 1800, 60 in 1820, rising to around 150 by 1870, a peak of around 250 in the mid twentieth century with subsequent falls to around 140 in the 1990s. Staff were also loyal, and the Quaker ethos, shared by a constant proportion of staff and patients, has always generated a strong sense of identity, family and home. In the early twentieth century the Retreat was indeed a like a comfortable rest home for many patients. The then Medical Superintendent (Dr Bedford Pierce, Superintendent 1892-1922) was active, well respected and prominent in professional psychiatric circles as well as being much revered at the Retreat and in the Quaker community. The Retreat was also progressive at that time in exploring new treatments and in pioneering greater professional training for its nurses

The Retreat did not enter the NHS in 1948, and it has continued to operate as an independent hospital. The last fifty years have seen an enormous number of changes and pressures which the Retreat has had to deal with in a flexible way, in order to maintain its existence. With the radical changes in the population of mental hospitals from the 1960s onwards, the Retreat has had to rethink its role. It has physically modernised (there was a large rebuilding and upgrading programme promoted through the 1950s and 1960s which has continued when necessary since then). It has reformed and refocused its management and staffing and maintained and adapted its roles both within the Quaker community and in the market for mental health so that it continues to operate as a successful independent hospital today

There is an important study of the eighteenth and nineteenth century Retreat: Anne Digby, Madness, morality and medicine; a study of the York Retreat 1796-1914 (1985). An overview of the history of the Retreat in the twentieth century can best be gained through a study of the Retreat's annual reports and the various publications issued by the Retreat - see catalogue for details. Further details on specific events and buildings also appear in the annotations to the catalogue entries

Places

Legal status

Functions, occupations and activities

Mandates/sources of authority

Internal structures/genealogy

General context

Relationships area

Related entity

Jepson, George, 1743-1836, Superintendent of The Retreat, York (1743-1836)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

associative

Dates of the relationship

1797 - 1823

Description of relationship

Related entity

Jepson, Catherine, 1765-1844, née Allen, Matron of The Retreat, York (1765-1844)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

associative

Dates of the relationship

1796-1823

Description of relationship

Related entity

Williams, Caleb, 1798-1871, physician (1798-1871)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

associative

Dates of the relationship

Description of relationship

Related entity

Tuke, Samuel, 1784-1857, philanthropist (1784-1857)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

associative

Dates of the relationship

Description of relationship

Related entity

Tuke, William, 1732-1822, Quaker philanthropist (1732-1822)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

associative

Dates of the relationship

Description of relationship

Related entity

Moorlands Hospital, Haxby (1940-1989)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

hierarchical

Type of relationship

Moorlands Hospital, Haxby is controlled by The Retreat, Yorkshire, hospital

Dates of the relationship

1940 - 1955

Description of relationship

Related entity

Ponsonby, Hannah, 1781-1861, Matron of the Retreat, York (1781-1841)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

hierarchical

Type of relationship

Ponsonby, Hannah, 1781-1861, Matron of the Retreat, York is employee of The Retreat, Yorkshire, hospital

Dates of the relationship

1816-1841

Description of relationship

Related entity

Pierce, Bedford, 1861-1932, Consulting Physician to The Retreat, York (1861-1932)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

hierarchical

Type of relationship

Pierce, Bedford, 1861-1932, Consulting Physician to The Retreat, York is employee of The Retreat, Yorkshire, hospital

Dates of the relationship

1892-1922

Description of relationship

Access points area

Occupations

Control area

Authority record identifier

Institution identifier

GB 193

Rules and/or conventions used

ISAAR(CPF): International Standard Archival Authority Record for Corporate Bodies, Persons and Families, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2003); Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997).

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