Ticehurst House Hospital

  • Ticehurst House Hospital
MSS.6245-6790, 8408-8409, 8591, 8928
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


Records of private asylums have had an extremely poor survival rate compared with those in the public sector, which have had the benefits of statutory protection and a greater measure of continuity. The Ticehurst House records, however, are unusually well preserved, and some of the more important series in its archive are remarkably complete. No central management or Board minutes for the asylum have been traced, and may not have been kept prior to 1918 given the informal management of the institution at that time by the Newington family. However the various categories of records kept in accordance with the lunacy legislation, including a remarkable series of casebooks, are well preserved, especially for the period 1845-1948. The Hospital and its General Manager are therefore greatly to be thanked for making these records available for research.



Physical description

262 volumes; 112 boxes; 101 files; 12 loose-leaf binders; 36 bundles; 84 tables, maps, deeds and similar items; and 8 booklets.


Summary Listing:

MSS.6245-6283: Records relating to the Licensing, Visitation and External Supervision of the Hospital.

MSS.6284-6316: Admission records and registers of patients.

MSS.6317-6325: Records of discharges, removals, deaths and post-mortems.

MSS.6326-6360: Papers relating to individual patients: reception orders, medical certificates and medical journals for single patients.

MSS.6361-6499: Case records.

MSS.6500-6522: The Doctors Newington 1918-67, and Ticehurst House Private Clinic Ltd. 1967-74.

MSS.6523-6540: Staff Records.

MSS.6541-6553: Other administrative records.

MSS.6554-6734: Financial records.

MSS.6735-6776: Estate records.

MSS.6777-6782: Papers of the Newington family and of Colin McDowall, Medical Superintendent.

MSS.6783-6790: Prospectuses, engravings, photographs, newscuttings and miscellanea. This section includes MS.6784A.

Acquisition note

The records here were deposited in the Wellcome Institute, now the library at Wellcome Collection, by the General Manager of Ticehurst House Hospital in 1980 and 1990 (acc. 348316). MS.6784A and one photograph added to MS.6787 were added to the collection, transferred from the Hospital, in May 2004 (acc.1257).

Biographical note

Ticehurst House Hospital was opened as a private lunatic asylum at Ticehurst, East Sussex, in 1792. The founder was Samuel Newington (1739-1811), who was already in practice at Ticehurst as a surgeon and apothecary. The asylum remained in the ownership of his descendants until recent times, and they continued to serve as its medical superintendents until the death of Herbert Francis Hayes Newington (1847-1917).

At first the hospital admitted a number of pauper patients as well as its more numerous private clients. However no pauper patients were admitted after 1838, and the clientèle became increasingly upper class as the century progressed. Already in the 1820s a prospectus was issued with impressive illustrations of the asylum and its grounds, which included a pagoda, a gothic summer house and an aviary for gold and silver pheasants. Later, in 1882, a newspaper report described the Ticehurst establishment as ducal, with horses and carriages, valets and liveried servants, hothouses, greenhouses, and its own pack of harriers. In keeping with this rise in social status, patients were increasingly drawn not only from Sussex, Kent, and the Home Counties, but from the whole of Great Britain and even from overseas.

In addition to Ticehurst House itself (known in the early years of the Hospital as The Establishment), the Newington family acquired a number of other properties in the vicinity for the accommodation of patients and staff. By 1827 the Hospital consisted of Ticehurst House itself, and two nearby houses, The Vineyard and The Highlands, set in pleasure grounds amounting to over forty acres. The acquisition of Brick Kiln Farm and other properties brought the total land holding to over three hundred acres by 1900.

Following the death of Herbert Francis Hayes Newington, the ownership and management structure of the Hospital was formalised by the registration of 'The Doctors Newington' in 1918 as a private unlimited company. The share capital of the company was divided equally between four trusts representing the various branches of the family: the Hayes Newington Family Trust Ltd; the Alexander Newington Trust Ltd; the Samuel Newington Family Trust Ltd; and the Herbert Newington Trust Ltd. The Hospital was run by a Board of Directors on which each of the Trusts was represented. Day to day management was the responsibility of two employees, the Secretary and, with respect to patient care, the Medical Superintendent. The dominant figure, however, until at least the 1950s, was the Chairman of the Board, Herbert Archer Hayes Newington.

In 1918 when 'The Doctors Newington' was registered as a company, its purposes were stated to be not only the management of the asylum, but also farming. The estate continued to be extensive until 1951, when it consisted of 311 acres. However a series of sales in the decade which followed, which included the disposal of Brick Kiln Farm, The Gables, Quarry Villa, and a substantial part of the land of Broomden Farm, brought a large reduction in the land holding, and the return of the Hospital to its original single function of psychiatric patient care.

The company was re-incorporated in 1967 as 'Ticehurst House Private Clinic Ltd.'. It became part of Nestor Nursing Homes Ltd. in 1974. Following this it was acquired by Westminster Healthcare and became part of the Priory Healthcare group in 2000. Information about the Priory group and its history can be found on the internet at http://www.prioryhealthcare.co.uk/.

Copyright note

Readers seeking to publish extracts or extensive quotations from the records should seek the permission of the hospital, or of such other parties as may be necessary, in accordance with the laws of copyright.

Terms of use

This collection has been catalogued and is available to library members. Some items have access restrictions which are explained in the item-level catalogue records.

Finding aids

Two provisional indexes of Ticehurst Hospital patients are available. Both list residents 1792-1917: one is arranged chronologically, by date of admission; the second provides an alphabetical guide to patient names.


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Accession number

  • 348316
  • 1257
  • 1579