While my wife was researching her family history she came across the very sad story of  her great great uncle Walter Edgar Blatch, This young boy who was born in Tottenham on the  31st May 1846 ended his short  12 years of  life by being murdered by an inmate at the Peckham House Lunatic Asylum on the 14th June 1858.

Peckham- house lunatic asylum was run by  Dr Armstrong, it was a very violent, brutal and cruel place and must have been  a very frightening and intimidating place to be for an adult, what it must have been like for a child one can only try to imagine.

My wife and I have read so many old documents which tell the story of  such horrendous abuse, cruel treatment and punishment at Peckham House that even after all these years prove to be very moving. Some of the attendants were nothing more than than brutal criminals who met out the most violent punishments for the least patient ‘crime’.

Why Walter Edgar Blatch age  9 was admitted to the Marylebone work house on the 22nd  May  1855 we will never know although from the 1851 Census that he was listed as a lunatic,  He was admitted as  being ‘idiotic’. Perhaps his parents could not cope with having a child with a mental illness, times were very hard and most people of that time and social stature would have been busy just getting by day to day  and would not have had the time to look after such a child.

Marylebone  Workhouse

Wards walter2

Peckham House, 112 High Street, Peckham south London. This was a large mansion house built circa 1785, it was taken over as a lunatic asylum in 1826 and closed in the 1950’s. Until 1826 it was lived in by a wealthy family named ‘Spitta’ it was described as a ‘fine old mansion’ with many acres of land. The family lived in great style and had many fetes and garden party’s within the grounds.

A very different life for the Pauper Lunatics who lived there after  Dr. Peter Armstrong took over in 1826. Apart from the brutality, the patients diet was at the very best poor. The diet consisted of  “meat, potatoes, bread” and “soup and bread”. On Sunday it was “Irish stew with bread”. The soup was made up from bones, liqueur and some vegetables The amount they were given was described as “meager” and there were  many complaints of poor quality, short measure,fraud and false accounting. The kitchen was described as “very dirty”.

Peckham House has long been demolished. A school now stands within  its old grounds.