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List of ward items from a psychiatric hospital, Kent, England, 1945-1951

Plant pots, soap dishes, thermometers, board games…details of daily life on a psychiatric ward are listed here. The printed list is a sort of ward audit from Kent County Mental Hospital. It was extensively corrected by hand between 1945 and 1951. It is interesting to see what kept the patients busy. A television was first listed in 1951. This was the same year the board game ‘Snakes and Ladders’ was taken off the list. Patients in the 19th century were encouraged to do manual labour in the gardens and workshops of the institutions. The emphasis shifted during the 20th century to recreational exercise and creative therapies such as painting and music. Critics argued this highlighted the extent to which mental hospitals merely warehoused patients rather than curing them. Listed here are skipping ropes, badminton racquets, 24 Cribbage boards, and the ward was complete with not one, but two pianos.

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Glossary: psychiatric hospital

Psychiatric hospital specialising in the treatment of serious mental illness, usually for relatively long-term patients.

Glossary: asylum

A historic term for a psychiatric hospital. The term in this context was common in the 1700s and 1800s, but is no longer in use.

Glossary: list - document genre

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