105. A Peaceful Asylum

NARRATOR: 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.