Unlocking the Asylum Project at Denbighshire Archives

Lindsey Sutton's picture

Dear all,

My name is Lindsey Sutton and I am the Project Archivist employed on the Wellcome funded Unlocking the Asylum project at Denbighshire Archives. The project began in October 2017 and is due to run until November 2019. The aim of the project is to catalogue the records of the North Wales Hospital, in order to promote the wider use of the collection.

The North Wales Hospital, Denbigh, was the main institution in North Wales for the care of the mentally ill. The institution opened in October 1848 serving the whole of North Wales and the borders. A century later, its patients numbered in excess of 1,500. The collection is varied, as well as highlighting the importance of the hospital to the economic and social life of the local area, the voluminous archives reflect developments in medical and therapeutic treatments from the late 19th century to the end of 20th century.

The hospital finally closed its doors in 1995. The resulting archive is unique in its completeness and includes management records such as minutes and annual reports, building records including some relating to the initial founding of the hospital, financial records including accounts, patient records including admission, discharge, and case books, staff records including wage books, and other material including photographs and newspaper cuttings.

We are now four months into the project and are pleased to announce the launch of a temporary catalogue for the first part of the collection. This temporary catalogue replaces the former paper list. The catalogue, which includes over 500 items, features improved item descriptions, and a new structure which will make it easier for users to find records relevant to their research. The temporary catalogue can be found at the link below.


Work is now underway to catalogue and repackage the remainder of the collection, and the final version of the catalogue which will include the later accessions of records will be available by the end of the project in 2019.

We will continue to post regular updates of the progress of the project and details of events on our blog, which can be found at the link below.