ITV documentary: Broadmoor

ITV is showing part one of its documentary about Broadmoor tonight at 9pm. The makers were given more access than anyone has had before, so it should be an interesting programme to watch if you want to find out more about what the hospital does and how it does it. I think it probably won’t cover too much of the history of the place though.

From the Radio Times page about the programme:

“For the first time, the world’s best-known high-security hospital lets in the cameras. Documentaries about prisons, hospitals and mental health facilities have proved popular in recent years and in a sense Broadmoor offers veteran film-maker Olivia Lichtenstein a combination of all three.

It’s unlikely to make for comfortable viewing, though: this is a facility (technically a hospital, not a prison) that houses and treats the most severely psychologically disordered patients, including violent offenders such as Peter Sutcliffe. And having the patients’ faces blurred (on the insistence of the hospital) won’t make it any easier to watch. Even so, it should be grimly fascinating television.


1/2. Part one of two. Having been built as a Victorian asylum for the criminally insane, Broadmoor in Berkshire is now a high-security psychiatric hospital and home to some of the nation’s most violent men – many of whom are considered too dangerous to be accommodated elsewhere. This documentary meets new patients at the institution, others who are responding well to treatment, and some whose lack of co-operation keeps them from moving on.”

The ITV page includes a video clip of the director, Olivia Lichtenstein.



Published in: on 05/11/2014 at 10:51  Leave a Comment  
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The Domesday Book

I’ve just discovered the Open Domesday site, “The first free online copy of Domesday Book”. Crowthorne wasn’t even a speck on the map at that time, but I thought the results for the nearest places might be of interest: (more…)

Published in: on 24/04/2014 at 21:32  Leave a Comment  

The Sketch 23 Oct 1901

The Sketch

An article from the 23 October 1901 issue of The Sketch, an illustrated weekly newspaper/magazine. The full text reads:

“During His Majesty’s Pleasure”

Life At Broadmoor Asylum

An extensive red-brick building, fashioned somewhat like a squat letter “H”, standing on a lofty eminence, amidst beautiful scenic surroundings, and wearing a generally bright and attractive appearance. That is the Asylum, at Crowthorne, in Berkshire, which received as patients the insane among criminals.

The only feature about it which bears any resemblance to a prison are the large, nail-studded entrance-gates. The grounds in the rear are arranged in terraces, leading down by stages to the cricket-field, a wide stretch on bright-green turf, level as a billiard-table, and flanked by the high outer wall. Viewed from the rear, the Asylum might pass well for the princely country abode of a distinguished nobleman. Standing immediately outside the building on the top terrace, one obtains a perfectly free and uninterrupted view of the surrounding country, the outer wall being hidden below the terraces. The building is designed to accommodate 486 male patients and 185 females. Upon the occasion of my visit, they had one male beyond their number, but twelve short of their full complement of females. Another wing is being added, which is to accommodate an additional eighty patients and will be ready next year.


Published in: on 22/04/2014 at 09:31  Leave a Comment  


Ravenswood ad

An advert for Ravenswood School “for girls and little boys”. Ravenswood Village is now run by Norwood:

Published in: on 20/04/2014 at 15:45  Comments (3)  
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BBC News Magazine – Broadmoor Hospital: Inside a Victorian ‘lunatic asylum’

BBC News Magazine – Broadmoor Hospital: Inside a Victorian ‘lunatic asylum’

The BBC news website has posted a slideshow about the history, and future, of Broadmoor Hospital. It’s now 150 years since the Hospital (or Asylum as it was originally) opened to both male and female patients.

Published in: on 28/02/2014 at 11:55  Leave a Comment  
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Views of Broadmoor

Views of Broadmoor

Views of Broadmoor

The postcard is undated, but the various images on this card are shown on the Frith site as being taken in 1910: “Female Quarters”, “Female Entrance”, “Entrance”, “Male Quarters” and “The Terrace”. There have certainly been some changes since it was issued!


Published in: on 11/05/2013 at 14:03  Comments (1)  
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Drive around Crowthorne & Sandhurst in 1987

Here’s something a little different: a video on YouTube showing a drive around the village way back in 1987! It’s surprising how similar a lot of the place looks – in many places it could almost be from the present day if there weren’t all the old Escorts and Astras and things about.

2011 forest fire

Something slightly different for this post: Back in early May this year, Crowthorne was enveloped in smoke from one of the biggest forest fires in the area for many years. Some people were evacuated from their homes on Brookers Row, businesses had to close, and roads were shut.

The village featured on local and national news reports covering a spate of forest fires around the UK. The Crowthorne fire was notable in that it was much closer to homes and businesses than usual fires in the area, and spread rapidly to cover a wide area. At its peak, there were more fire engines and personnel tackling the blaze than were deployed when Windsor Castle caught fire in the early 1990s, with crews coming in from surrounding counties to try to beat the blaze. To access enough water to tackle the fire, they pumped water from lakes at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, leading to huge hoses running through the woods. The bypass was closed for several days, with the top of Foresters Way becoming a makeshift fire-engine park.

The trees weren’t the only fuel for the fire: a lot of the ground in the area is peat, which can smoulder underground for some time and helped the fire continue for so long. The breeze also whipped up flames and spread the blaze. At one point, the fire got to within a couple of hundred yards of my office.

During the fire and immediate aftermath, I took some photos and a couple of video clips. There’s plenty of other photos and videos on Flickr and YouTube – it was quite an exciting thing to happen round here, so lots of people seemed to go out with their cameras.

sleepymyf's Crowthorne forest fires photoset sleepymyf’s Crowthorne forest fires photoset

Six months on, they’ve bulldozed a lot of the scorched trees and cleared the ground so that they can plant new trees, including more fire-resistant varieties to help prevent something on this scale happening in future.

Published in: on 30/11/2011 at 16:49  Leave a Comment  

#13 – Crowthorne, Broadmoor Avenue

Crowthorne, Lower Broadmoor

Crowthorne, Lower Broadmoor: Frith no. 78039

Franked Crowthorne, Berks, unreadable date. The Frith website lists the photo as “Lower Broadmoor 1925, Crowthorne

This road is now known as Chaplain’s Hill. The houses are still there, and there are some garages as well now. The trees in the centre aren’t there any more, having at some point been removed to provide a small parking area.

Published in: on 25/09/2011 at 12:00  Comments (1)  
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#79 – Crowthorne Church and Cross

Crowthorne Church and Cross

Crowthorne Church and Cross, Frith no: 65794

The postcard is undated.

The Frith website lists the photo as “Church And Cross 1914, Crowthorne″.

Published in: on 11/09/2011 at 12:00  Leave a Comment  
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