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Episode 4

Duration:
15 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 20 February 2014

The Last Asylum begins with Barbara Taylor's visit to the innocuously named Princess Park Manor in Friern Barnet, North London - a place of luxury flats and careful landscaping. But this is the former site of one of England's most infamous lunatic asylums, the Middlesex County Pauper Lunatic Asylum at Colney Hatch. At its peak, this asylum housed nearly 3,000 patients - including, in the late 1980s, Barbara Taylor herself.

Writing about The Last Asylum, Booker prize winner and memoirist, Hilary Mantel said, ''We believe our response to mental illness is more enlightened, kinder and effective than that of the Victorians who built the asylums. Can we be sure? Barbara Taylor challenges complacency, exposes shallow thinking, and points out the flaws and dangers of treatment on the cheap. It is a wise, considered and timely book'.

Darian Leader has described it as 'Superb, Riveting, insightful and relentlessly honest'.

Episode 4:
The history of mental health hospitals is fraught with failures and good intentions. When it was decided to close down the old asylums, the care in the community revolution was already well underway. Barbara finds herself in a hostel.

Reader: Maggie Steed

Abridged and produced by Jill Waters
A Waters Company production for BBC Radio 4.

Credits

Reader
Maggie Steed
Producer
Jill Waters
Abridger
Jill Waters
Author
Barbara Taylor

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