|For the Mentally Ill in Hertfordshire|
In the Christmas "Competition" I pointed out that nothing was know about the mentally ill patients at Harpenden Hall, except for the often incomplete entries in the census returns. (See Early Mad Houses of St Albans and Harpenden). The results were very satisfactory - See The Patients at Harpenden Hall, Harpenden, 1851-1901 - thanks very much to the efforts of Anthony - who came up with certain and possible identifications for 14 patients - while I added one who was only identified on the census by the initials M.A.S.
Two had been cared for by the Rumball family for at least 40 years and all would appear to have come from well-to-do families. It very much illustrated the point that mental illness can strike anywhere, and if you had enough money there were homes where you could be looked after in a civilized manner for a fee. I am sure that the residents of Harpenden Hall had an enjoyable time at Christmas.
As a result of the challenge I have made a donation of £50 to The Herts Mind Network which we found so helpful when first Lucy died, followed fifteen years later by Belinda. This donation brought the total to £847 (+ £40 sent separately) which means the site collection has only £113 to go to reach the £1000 target for 2011, but only a week to do it.
So if you haven't already done so there is still time to make a donation - which is particularly relevant at Christmas time. Many of the modern mentally ill live on their own and have, because of their illness, lost contacts with family and friends. Some may not even get a Christmas card - much less a roast turkey or a tree with presents round the base. In addition there will be many families which be aware of the empty chair at the Christmas feast. And if you have found the site useful don't forget to put a present "under the Christmas Tree" for the mentally ill in Hertfordshire.