At the start of the 1950s, asylums were collectively starting to remove the Victorian restraints they had inherited (such as the demolition of boundary walls and the adoption of open-door policies) and were adopting policies to make the hospitals more humane and welcoming.

Cane Hill’s wards were originally identified by letter, floor number and hospital side e.g. ward H2 on the female side. Walk’s suggestion, reproduced here, was to rename all the wards with the names of prominent people from the hospital’s catchment area.

This document appears to be a copy of Walk’s original. Not only does it feature several ideas which weren’t adopted, but the copy has been hand annotated with new ideas and the old typed ones struck out. I wonder if this was Walk’s copy on which he recorded the new suggestions during the committee meeting.

Most of his original suggestions were used and became the names by which the wards were known.

However, there is some confusion on the female side of the hospital. Ward "A" became Blake/Browning whilst Ward "B" switched to Alleyn/Andrewes. It isn’t known why they were swapped.

Base of page 4


21st December, 1950

Ladies and Gentlemen,


I have for many years thought that it would be more dignified and pleasant if wards were given names instead of letters and numbers, and I am now asking the Committee to agree to this being done. I hope the proposal, being in rather lighter vein than some of those which come before the Committee, may be thought acceptable as a subject for discussion at the Christmas meeting.

In the past the Voluntary Hospitals have alway named their wards, while letters and numbers have been the hallmark of the poor-law infirmary and asylum. Now that the status of these latter has risen, a change seems indicated, and this has already been made at some of the former L.C.C. hospitals (e.g. St. Alfege's and St. Olave's). Among our mental hospitals, St. Ebba's have always named all their villas; Runwell is built in units called after local features of the boroughs it serves; Bethlem has "houses" named after City worthies, and so forth.

To make the change with the least possible disturbance, I propose that the female wards should have names beginning with the letters by which they are now known; on the male side, the rest of the alphabet to be used, the wards being re-lettered from N to Y in sequence, and then allotted corresponding names. I suggest also that the change should be made in stages.

I submit a list of suggested names. They are for the most part those of famous persons associated with South London - with very few expections the association is with our own Catchment Area. I have given preference to names of persons who were in some way connected with psychiatry - whether as physicians, reformers or sufferers. In this way we cam emphasize the bond between the so called normal and abnormal, and honour some of those who, in spite of psychological handicaps, have enriched our lives by their creative works.

In a very few instances I have had to choose names that do not quite conform to these principles, and these are explained in their order.

The following is the complete list, with notes on each name:

Female Side

A.1.ALLEYN.The great name in Dulwich, founder of "Alleyn's College of God's Gift" (with its various offshoots.)
A.2.ANDREWES.Bishop Lancelot Andrewes, whose beautiful tomb is one of hte finest features of Southwark Cathedral.
B.1.BLAKE.William Blake, poet, artist, and mystic, lived in Lambeth; some of his visions and revelations took place on Peckham Rye. One of hte "great abnormals", though nowadays the question of his "sanity" is no longer debated.
B.2.BROWNING.Robert Browning was born at Camberwell, and is commemorated by the Browning Settlement at Walworth.
C.1.CHAUCER.The well-known association of the Canterbury Tales... [last line missing]
C.2.CRUDEN.Alexander Cruden, author of the "Concordance to the Bible" and other works; was patient at Bethnel House and elsewhere. Buried in Southwark and has a memorial in Southwark Cathedral.
D.1.DICKENS.Many scenes from his books are placed in Southwark and Bermondsey, and are commemorated in street names. His associations with Peckham, on the other hand, were until recently unmentionable. Much has been written lately about his psychology.
D.2.DONNE.John Donne, poet and Dean of St. Paul's, lived for a number of years at Peckham Manor House.
E.ELLIS.Havelock Ellis, essayist, reformer and psychologist lived for many years at Herne Hill.
F.FARADAY.Michael Faraday, the famous scientist, pioneer of electricity (and therefore of E.E.G. and E.C.T.) was born at Newington Butts.
G.GUY.Thomas Guy, bookseller, founder of Guy's Hospital, born at Horselydown in the Borough of Bermondsey.
John Haslam was "apothecary" (resident medical officer) at Bethlem, then newly removed to South London, at the beginning of the XIX century. A valuable writer on insanity, and the first to describe a case of General Paralysis.
John Harvard 1607-1688 lived in Southwark emigrated to New England and founded Harvard University.
H.2.HILL.Octavia Hill's pioneering work in housing wa largely carried out in South London. Surrey and Kent are also indebted to her as one of the founders of the National Trust.

There is also Rowland Hill, who founded a famous chapel in Blackfriars Road, afterwards, for good or ill, transformed into the equally famous "Ring".

H.3.HOGARTH.After the engraver and painter William Hogarth.
J.1.JOHNSON.Dr. Johnson is associated with South London through Barclay's Brewery at Bankside, and the Thrales' house at Streatham. He was a sufferer from various forms of neurosis and melancholia.
J.2.JENNER.I cannot find a strong candidate from South London, though Douglas Jerrold, author, and William Jolliffe, builder of London Bridge, whose home was at Merstham, are possibles. I would prefer to go outside for a name, and as this is the Infectious Diseases ward, to call it after Edward Jenner, whose discover of vaccination was the first of many successful measures of protection against these diseases.
K.1.KEATS.John Keats, the poet, was a medical student at Guy's.
K.2.KELLER.After the writer and social worker Helen Keller.
K.3.KING'S.Here again there is no strong candidate, and I porpose to call this King's ward, after the great hospital which has been in South London since 1913. This will balance Guy ward, mentioned above, and also Queens' ward, to be mentioned later.
L.1.LETTSOM.John Coakley Lettsom, celebrated physician of the early XIX century, founder of the Medical Society of London, the Royal Humane Society and others, lived at Grove Hill, Camberwell.
(when opened)
The Rev. J. Scott Lidgett, still happily with us, recently retired at the age of 96 from the Wardenship of the Bermondsey Settlement, which he founded 60 years ago; for many years he was also a prominent figure on the L.C.C.
M.MAPOTHER.Dr. Edward Mapother, first Medical Superintendent of the Maudsley Hospital and first Professor of Psychiatry in the University of London, by whose teaching many of us have been influenced and inspired.

Male Side

J.NIGHTINGALE.Florence Nightingale's name is assocaited with St. Thomas's Hospital, which in her time, was in Southwark, by London Bridge Hospital.
A.2.OLAVE.King Olaf of Norway, otherwise St. Olave, commemorated by the same of Tooley Street, and by St. Olave's Church, Union, Hospital, etc.
A.1.QUEENS'.After two queens (Katherine of Valois and Elizabeth Woodville) who lived in retirement in Bermondsey Abbey; also after our Present Queen, who has on more than one occasion made personal enquires concerning patients of ours.
B.1.PAXTON.Josepth Paxton, architect of the Crystal Palace.
B.2.PUGIN.Augustus Welby Pugin, architect and pioneer of the Gothic Revival; builder of St. George's R.C. Cathedral, Southwark; a sufferer from melancholia, for which he was treated at Bethlem.
C.1.ROSSETTI.Dante Gabriel Rossetti, poet and artist, lived for a time, with his wife Elizabeth, at Blackfriars. Both his life and that of his wife are of psychiatric significance.
C.2.RUSKIN.John Ruskin lived for the greater part of his life at Herne Hill and Denmark Hill. His life also is an object of psychiatric study.

There are several candidates for the "S" wards, from Shakespeare to Dr. Salter. I prefer the two following, both of the greatest interest to psychiatry:

D.1.SHAFTESBURY.The great Lord Shaftesbury, philanthropist and reformer, foremost in bringing about the improvement of mental hospitals, for many years Chairman of the Commissioners. Several of the schools he founded are in South London.
Dean Swift is triply qualified: he made Gulliver an inhabitant of Rotherhithe; he founded a famous mental hospital; he himself suffered from melancholia and dementia.
Dr. Salter studied medicine practised in Bermondsey.
E.TURNER.J.M.W. Turner painted his picture of the "Fighting Temeraire" at Rotherhithe. He was also one of the "great abnormals".
UNWINMary Unwin, friend and benefactor of the poet Cowper in his mental affliction.
F.1.VANBRUGH.I cannot find any prominent person with a name beginning with V associated with our catchment area; but Vanbrugh, architect and playwright, lived at Greenwich and is commemorated there by... [last line missing]
F.2.VINCENT.There is no other local candidate. I propose the name 'Vincent', which may refer to St. Vincent de Paul, founder of the Sisters of Charity; and to Vincent van Gogh, who painted some of his finest pictures while a patient in a mental hospital.
H.1.WESLEY.Not a very strong local candidate, but his wife, Susannah Wesley, died and was buried at Camberwell. Alternatives might be WILSON, after the founder of the Wilson Grammar School at Camberwell, or WILBERFORCE, the reformer, who lived at Clapham and later at Godstone.
H.2.WREN.Sir Christopher Wren is said to have lived at Camberwell Green, where a road has been named after him.
S.YORK.No suitable personal name beginning with Y suggests itself, and so I propose to name the ward after the City of York, where, at The Retreat, the humane treatment of mental patients was first started by William Tuke.
ZACHARYEnglish form of the Hebrew "Zachariah" which means "God will remember." He was the father of John The Baptist

Physician Superintendent

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