Lilla Pemberton Barnes (127) was born on 3rd July, 1865 at the Hall, Havering-atte-Bower, Essex.

 

 

London Standard 6th July 1865

 

At the age of 5 she was living at Quarry Cottage, St LeonardŐs, Sussex.

 

She had moved to Havering by the time she was 15 and she was visiting relations at Little Blake Hall, Cambridge Park, Wanstead, Essex in 1891.

 

She died, aged 21, at Heigham Hall Asylum, Heigham, Norwich, Norfolk.

 

 

 

The Essex Newsman 21st November, 1896

 

 

 

In 1836 Heigham Hall became a Private Lunatic Asylum, set up in opposition to the Heigham Retreat, and by 1845 was being kept by W. P. Nichols and John Wilcox Watson.

 

The Heigham Retreat, opened in 1829 by Mr. Jollye, of Loddon, was bought out by Drs. Wright, Dalrymple, and Crosse, and closed soon after by John Watson, one of the proprietors of Heigham Hall. This may have been an early example of Victorian sharp practice; buying up a competitor and shutting it down. The site of Heigham Retreat lies under what is now Avenue Road, off Park Lane, Norwich, although its exact location is unclear.

 

In October 1854 a scandal engulfed the Asylum. At the Norwich Quarter Sessions a Dr. Hull alleged that the hospital chaplain, the Revd. Edmund Holmes, had been wrongly admitted as a patient to save him from prosecution for rape, he being a county clergyman, "a member of a high county family."

Dr. Hull's informant, said to be Mr. Nichols, a well-known local doctor and Mayor of Norwich (1878), emphatically denied that he had made the claim but the Justices came to the conclusion that Holmes had been placed in the Asylum to avoid facing a criminal charge. However, the affair blew over, a motion to refuse the licence to the Asylum was withdrawn, and a demand to the Secretary of State for a searching investigation fell through.

 

By 1864 the Asylum being was run by three surgeons, W. P. Nichols, W. H. Ranking, M.D., and J. Ferra Watson. On Watson's  death his widow, her daughter and son in-law (Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Mottram) kept it until it was transferred in 1904 to J. Gordon-Munn, Esq., M.D., F.R.S.E. Munn who was Lord Mayor of Norwich (1915-16), had previously been a Medical Officer in the Grenadier Guards and the author of "The Uterus and its Appendages in the Insane:"

 

"The causes of hysteria may be divided into the predisposing, such as hereditary predisposition to nervous degeneration, sex, age, occupation, and national idiosyncrasy; and the immediate, such as mental and physical exhaustion, fright, and other emotional influences, pregnancy, the puerperal condition, diseases of the uterus and its appendages ..."

 

The grounds of Heigham Hall mental hospital were described as unusually large and handsome, secluded and pretty. The last known death at the Asylum occurred on December 7th 1954, of 85-year-old Mrs Edith 'Mollie' MacRae, mother of pioneer aviator, RAF test pilot and air race contestant Campbell Mackenzie-Richards.

 

Heigham Hall was taken over by Dr. J.A. Small in 1930. It closed in 1960 and was demolished to make way for Norwich Corporation's Dolphin Grove social housing estate scheme which rehoused many Norwich families displaced by slum clearance.