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A urine soaked record – the Bath Home and a homeopathic hospital

By Hugh Dominic W Stiles, on 23 January 2015

In our collection we have a big thick green-bound ledger, measuring approximately 13 1/4″ by 8 3/4″.  A torn bit of paper on the front cover indicates that it was used by the Poolemead Home for Deaf Women, at 9 and 10 Walcot Parade, Bath, to record names and details of the inmates.

Homeopathic WalcotThe home, founded in 1868, became known as the Deaf and Dumb Industrial Home, then was taken over by the National Institute for the Deaf in 1932, and moved to ‘Poolemead’ at Twerton-on-Avon, near Bath, in 1933, and is now known as the Leopold Muller Deaf Home.

The Story of how the home began is related in Silent World (1946) –

An old four-page pamphlet, grubbed up from the archives of 105 Gower Street, and believed to be the only copy in existence, told me all there was to know about the beginning s of what we now call “Poolemead”.  How the Reverend Fountain Elwin, of Temple Church, Bristol, found a little deaf mute girl in his parish and took her into his home; of how the family moved to Bath; and how his daughter and her friend Miss White went about the city looking for deaf and dumb children, found several neglected little waif, and began to teach them in a rented room in Orange Grove.

A Hundred Years Ago

This must have been about 1832, for our pamphlet tells us that Miss Elwin began her life’s work among the deaf when she was eighteen, and she was born in 1814.  she died when she was ninety.

Her early efforts went so well and aroused so much interest that in 1840 a Committee was formed and premises taken over at 9 Walcot Parade.  In 1868 a home for adults was started, and by the middle 1890’s the adult work had far outstripped the school.  The State was beginning to accept its proper duty of educating the young, and by 1897 the school had been closed altogether and the Charity Commissioners had agreed to the accumulated funds and property being used entirely for the home.

So the Bath Home for Deaf and Dumb Women came properly into being.

What became of the  leaflet I cannot say –  it is possible it survives in the collection hidden somewhere.  We have very little for Bristol in general (two late 19th century reports from the Bristol Institute are ‘missing’) and nothing from Bath, so I cannot compare anything in the way of annual reports for the home.  The founder was Jane Elwin, Fountain Elwin’s daughter.  Initially I connected him with the Elwin family in Norfolk, who produced another Fountain Elwin around the same time, but census returns show he was born in Middlesex circa 1784.  I believe that they may well have been related.  Elwin was ordained in 1810 and ended up at Bristol’s large (now ruined) Temple Church.  He died in Bath in 1869 aged 85.  Jane was born in Bedminster, dying in 1904.  The 1901 census describes her as having ‘senile decay’.

The 1851 census shows a seventeen year old house maid, Elizabeth Buck, who was ‘deaf and dumb’ – surely this might be the deaf girl taken in by Elwin?   She was not described as deaf on the 1841 census.

If I discover anything more about Jane Elwin and Bath I will update this page.

The ledger illuminates other information we can find on the census (and no doubt other records).  For example, the first person listed for the Bath home is Harriet Ball – see below on the left (click to enlarge).  She was “deaf and dumb from a scald when two years old, her right arm amputated, she was one of the first to enter the home”.  An audiologist I consulted suggests that she may have had non-organic hearing loss, but it is far more likely that she had hearing loss that had not previously been detected.  The Bath Home seems to have used the ledger into the 1930s, though with only basic information on the later entries.

Ball clarkePrior to its use by the Bath Home, the ledger started life in Norwich as we can see from the plate in the inside front cover here.

Fletcher alexanderNow look again at the front plate at the top of the page and underneath the label we can make out the words ‘Homeopathic Hospital’.  It was originally used then by one of two possible homeopathic hospitals in Norwich at that time, the first entry being for a Susan Bush in 1856, the last in 1860 by …son (name partly concealed).  Here is an example of a patient in 1856, and I have chosen one who was deaf – Eliza Landamore.  Click for a larger size.

Eliza LandamoreA second example is below – and again I chose a person with a hearing problem, Susanna Denny who has ‘ottorhea’.Susanna Denny

Another patient, Robert Rippingale, born in 1843 in Catton (near Norwich)

Septr. 9th 1856 “For the last six years has had scrofulous swellings of the neck [from?] the remains of an old sore. Perfectly adherent to the bone of the lower jaw. His general health has been tolerably good. Has been an outpatient of the Norwich Hospital but without benefit.
Silica [6?]
16th Rather better ”
23rd Still improving Sulph + Silica

Robert did not live long – sadly he died in 1864.

At some point in 1860 I would surmise, the ledger met with an unfortunate accident.  Having read the heading of the article I think you will know where I am going with this…  Someone spilt urine onto the ledger, sticking many pages together.  Sadly some idiot later attempted to part the pages, damaging many.  It still smells very strongly of the cause of this accident!  However, clearly, as it was only partly used someone decided that it still had plenty of life left in it.  Quite how it travelled from Norwich to Bath we can only guess, but as you read above there was some sort of a possible connection with the Elwin family of Bath and Elwins in Norwich (a Robert Fountain Elwin was a rector in Norfolk).

If anyone recognises the hand that the Norwich part of the record was written in, please let us know.  There is no name in the front, so I cannot be sure who first used the book.  The Bath part was probably written by Emily Walker Morgan, head of the home in 1911 (aged 45) where the handwriting matches that at the start of the Bath part of the ledger.  I surmise it was first used by her around 1910.

Later enties show the handwriting getting shakier into the 1930s before it changes, and the record is less detailed.

Silent World, 1946, October, p.112-4

1841 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 970; Book: 3; Civil Parish: Walcot; County: Somerset; Enumeration District: 5; Folio: 7; Page: 6; Line: 20; GSU roll: 474610 (for the Elwins)

1841 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 931; Book: 13; Civil Parish: Lyncombe and Widcombe; County: Somerset; Enumeration District: 4; Folio: 27; Page: 5; Line: 18; GSU roll: 474593 (for Elizabeth Buck)

1851 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 1943; Folio: 464; Page: 32; GSU roll: 221102

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 1690; Folio: 53; Page: 6; GSU roll: 542851

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 2487; Folio: 55; Page: 5; GSU roll: 835196

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 2438; Folio: 30; Page: 4; GSU roll: 1341587

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 1935; Folio: 53; Page: 7; GSU roll: 6097045

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 2341; Folio: 19; Page: 4

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 14715; Schedule Number: 333

Inmates in 1911 on the census –
Name Relation to Head Birth Date Age Gender Marital Status Occupation Birth Place Address

Emily Walker Morgan Head   1866    45   Female Single  Head Matron Of Institution   Dublin 10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Elizabeth Martin   Assistant    1868    43   Female Widowed   Assistant Matron   Bath, Somerset  10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Harriett Ball               1857    54        Female Single             Paddington, London, England    10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Frances Clark             1846    65        Female Single             Paddington, London, England    10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Elizabeth Chambers    1848    63        Female Single             Liverpool, Lancashire             10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Ann Rogers                1850    61        Female Single             Bridgend, Glamorganshire      10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Louisa Tickett            1857    54        Female Single             Mile End, London, England   10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Elizabeth Townson     1882    29        Female Single             Liverpool, Lancashire             10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Ellen Hillyer               1857    54        Female Single             Dorchester, Dorset                  10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Ann Adams                1857    54        Female Single             Milton Nr Lymmington, Hampshire   10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Eliza Curl                   1875    36        Female Single             Dereham, Norfolk                   10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Emily Hubbard           1864    47        Female Single             West Ham, London, England 10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Honor Ninnes             1886    25        Female Single             St Ives, Cornwall                    10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Elizabeth White          1846   65        Female Single             Devizes, Somerset                   10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Charlotte Lowndes     1871   40        Female Single             Brighton, Sussex                     10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Annie Shepherd          1872   39        Female Single             Leeds, Yorkshire                     10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Georgina Fuller           1850   61        Female Single             Norwood, Surrey                    10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Ellen Smith                1888    23        Female Single             Paddington, London, England  10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Annie Crouch             1873    38        Female Single             Hammersmith, London, England   10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Alice Turner               1872    39        Female Single             Eastbourne, Kent                    10 Walcot Parade, Bath

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