Audio Tour 5
5a) A Place of Healing
5b) A Peaceful Asylum
(Scroll down for second part of tour)
5a A Place of Healing
‘A Place of Healing’ by Adults competition winner Jo Thomas.
Another beautiful day Lydia, and in such perfect surroundings.
Dearest Constance, I could not agree more. When Edmund told me the rest home was in Chiswick, I was most distressed at the thought of leaving London for the country, but I am now beginning to wonder how we shall ever get used to the noise of Belgravia again!
I completely agree with you my dearest. And how kind of our husbands to arrange for this period of recuperation for us. Although, if I were to be completely honest, I am a little surprised I have not been recalled to Ebury Street by now. I was of the impression that our period of rest was for two weeks. Correct me if I am wrong Lydia, but I believe we have both been here for something closer to three months?
Dearest, that is indeed the case. And I feel sure we are now well recuperated. Which is more than one can say for some of our fellow guests. There is a clever word for people who covet the possessions of others, I cannot remember it just at this moment, but I am certain it applies to the Dowager Countess. Last night in her room, in addition to my new Mr Forster novel, the nurses found twelve soup spoons, one 18
silver tea tray, three walking canes and Dr Tuke’s pipe. I know that at fifty she is well advanced in years, but surely there are more suitable places for such women to be secured?
And now it is my turn to agree with you Lydia. Let us hope that the situation improves.
I do hope that we hear from our good friend Mrs Fawcett soon. I am confused about her silence. Indeed I am surprised that none of our friends from The National Union have contacted us. Edmund assured me he would pass on our new temporary address, so we might continue our important work from the peace and quiet of Chiswick.
Indeed, the timing of our visit to this charming place is most unfortunate. I feel sure that given just a little more time we could have persuaded Mr Asquith to be sympathetic to our cause. I believe we made great progress at the House of Commons’ tea party. Mrs Fawcett was delighted we were able to talk to the Prime Minister directly, a much more civilised approach than that taken by dear Mrs Pankhurst and her associates.
I do believe that Edmund, and your beloved Henry, were surprised by the fortitude of our discussions with Mr Asquith! I saw them in deep discussion afterwards. Perhaps they will now be more vocal in their support for our activities.
Alas, from this distant place, cut of from our sisters in the National Union and without our usual means of support, I fear we are of little value.
Let us not be downhearted Constance. I see the gardener and stable boy ahead. Let us ask them if the Royal Mail has been delivered to day – I am sure good news awaits!
5b A Peaceful Asylum
The Tuke brothers ran their mental asylum here at Chiswick for more than 35 years. Rather than prescribing drugs, they listened and talked to their patients and were celebrated for their enlightened attitudes. Dr Thomas Seymour Tuke’s obituary described how his personal tact with patients led to them looking upon him as a trusted friend more than a doctor.
Most of the patients came from the upper middle class, gentry and aristocracy. Their days were mainly spent in the gardens, walking arm in arm with nurses. They also went on escorted outings to the theatre and played cricket on a pitch here at Chiswick that the Tukes laid out in the 1890s.
Cricket played a therapeutic role of sorts for patients. The doctors were keen cricketers themselves- Dr Charles Tuke played for Middlesex- and they encouraged patients to play and brought in outside teams for some healthy competition. One case note for a ‘Mr M’, who played cricket daily, reports that he ‘made a good score of 49 not out against the police’. Cricket is a sporting tradition that continues at Chiswick to this day.