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Friern Barnet Photo Archive

Colney Hatch Pauper Lunatic Asylum
The Friern Barnet Photo Archive
Colney Hatch Pauper Lunatic Asylum

An engraving of the Second Middlesex County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, opened on 17 July 1851. The first Middlesex asylum was at Hanwell and had opened in 1831. At its peak Coley Hatch, later renamed Friern Hospital, had over 2600 patients. SEE ALSO IMAGE NUMBER 114 FOR MORE COMMENTS
Picture added on 16 September 2009 at 15:57
Comments:
Hello,
A descendant of mine was admitted to Colney Hatch in 1851. He had been a serving Police Officer in Dagenham before being implicated in PC Clark's murder "The Dagenham Murder" in 1846. No charges were pressed but he was a prime suspect. After the murder he returned to Bethnal Green and returned to his previous employment of silk weaver. On the 17th January 1851 Butfoy was taken away from home and admitted to the Bethnal Green Workhouse 'as a lunatic' Then some months later to Colney Hatch. 41 year-old Abia Butfoy became only the second patient to be admitted to the huge newly-opened Colney Hatch Pauper Lunatic Asylum, in Friern Barnet in Middlesex. On 7th July 1853 He died at the asylum' aged only 43, the cause of death being given as "Chronic changes of brain'' He was laid to rest in the asylum burial ground four days later. The service was carried out by the chaplain Henry Murray'.
I would like to know if the cemetary still exists and is there any way of knowing where he was buried, a plot number?
Thank you, Sara Brooks.
Added by Sara Brooks on 30 April 2011
Hello Sara, I know this is a year and a half later, but better late then never. My name is Shi and I live on Friern Barnet Lane, literally 3 minutes away. My friend is a Medium who has previously visited there, not for work, just to have a look around. It was very sneaky but her and a friend managed to unscrew some boarding and get into the tunnels underneath the building. These tunnels lead to another building which we believe is the chapel. It is tiny, no bigger then a child's bedroom. So as the tunnels are leading from the building to the chapel it is very likely that this is the route they would have used to transport the dead from the hospital to the chapel for the ceremony, then from there to the burial ground. Now we couldn't find the burial ground, but there is a mound which could have been a mass burial. These are all just ideas. I hope none of this is too insensitive as you were talking about family, I just wanted to give you any information I personally know, and if you need any more help please feel free to email me, and me and my freind will be happy to help.
Added by Shi from friern barnet on 21 November 2012
I was an exchange student in the early 1980's- went to Amsterdam and came back out of my mind. Not sure if it was drugs or viral meningitis or an unexplained psychotic episode - but somehow I ended up in Friern Barnett hospital for some weeks absolutely out of my mind... just plain crazy. Thought I was Gandi, Jesus, CIA and Menachen Begin in my head. really gone. Got escorted back to the US, given lots of drugs, and regained a grip on realty - thank god. Vivid memory or the place and some folks there. Long strange trip.
Added by DF on 18 December 2012
My 3x great grandmother died here in 1881. On her death certificate the cause is "exhaustion from paralysis" but then underneath this it reads like an autopsy report! Did they do medical "investigations" on these poor people after they died? (Or even before?!) I don't know where she was buried. I checked the 1881 census but these people weren't even mentioned. How many of these people just didn't "exist" then in 1881? No wonder family research is so hard when some people aren't even included. Any more information would be gratefully received.
Added by CB on 23 December 2012
The burial ground is next to the gate house on right
Added by Steve Good on 24 December 2012
Thank you Steve Good
Added by CB on 25 December 2012
My great-grandfather and his father before him both worked at this hospital from around about 1870 onwards. It is fascinating to read about the history of this place as it looked an impressive building. I have found from the census that only those that were workers are named fully, patients are only listed by their initials.
Added by Sharron Horton on 20 January 2013
Yes - I found that too Sharron.

Added by CB on 20 January 2013
Am I right in thinking the graves are unmarked? I presume when the site was redeveloped for flats the graveyard was left intact. Can anyone confirm this?
Added by Dave P on 24 January 2013
I lived in Lyndhurst Avenue from the early 60's and can remember when the area bounded by Colney Hatch Lane just south of Hillside Gardens down to the North Circular Road, along the NCR to the railway bridge, and back up to the south side of the hospital was fields that formed the grounds of the hospital. When the hospital closed the land was sold for development and local legend had it that when the estates on Poplar Grove, Firs Avenue, Ribblesdale Avenue etc were being built in the mid 80's there were hundreds of unmarked graves being found. Doubtless there was some exaggeration but given the size of the hospital and the less enlightened times during which it operated I'd be surprised if there wasn't some truth in it. The hospital was huge, it reportedly had the longest indoor corridor in the world at one point, three quarters of a mile long. The estates that surround it - Parkhurst, Bellevue, and Carlton Roads for instance - were built mainly to house the masses of staff needed to run the place, and New Southgate station was built to service the hospital. People were admitted for what we today would consider to be the most incredible of reasons, such as having radical political views, or being 'feeble minded', and as many inmates had no relatives they saw out their days there and had no family to see that they had a decent burial.
Added by Greg Fisher on 07 February 2013
Sara, when I first moved into Friern Village in 1998 I did a tour of the then undeveloped hospital buildings and grounds given by Dr Ollie Natelson, a local historian.
He showed us an area next to Friern Barnet Road to the west of the entrance gates which is overgrown by trees and bushes. However you can just make out 4 white marker stones which he explained are the outer markers for the lime pits where former patients were buried who had no know relatives. I do not know if there are records anywhere of who was buried in this area. We were not shown any other burial sites but as another correspondent mentioned much of the former grounds are now built on, Friern Village being the most recent additions some 15 years ago.
Added by Peter Storey on 27 August 2013
I wonder if those 4 marker stones are still in place...........
Added by Carolyn Boon on 27 August 2013
Hello Peter, thank you for the information, very kind of you. Abia did have a wife so I am hopeful that he had a proper burial. Must have been an awful place have been incarcerated in, poor souls.

Added by Sara on 27 August 2013
I worked at the hospital in 1978/79. There was a small cemetery at the rear of the hospital within a walled area at the railway end
Added by Michael on 20 August 2014
Thanks Michael - would you be able to confirm whether the cemetery has now been built over by the new development of houses at the back of the hospital? Looking at Google Maps I can't see a space where it might have survived.
Added by Dave P on 24 August 2014
I've been searching for a Debra Gordon who was in Friern 1970-1990s, she sadly passed away not knowing her son was searching for her. Any info on this lady would be a great help.
Added by Scoot Gordon on 30 September 2014
I am looking for info on my great Uncle Gabriel Martin he died 11 Dec 1881 at the age of 16 and was buried in Colney Hatch Cemetery, so does that mean he was in the Asylum?
Added by Lorri on 26 October 2014
Hi.
I am looking for records of Bartholomew Corner who was an inmate of Colney Hatch. He died there in June/July 1871. Are there records for the patients?
Thanks,
Kaz.
Added by Kaz on 28 October 2014
Contact London Borough Archives. They hold the records
Added by Carolyn Boon on 01 November 2014
My mother Mina Rimell was taken there in 1935. My father wanted to be rid of her, divorce her and marry his pregnant girl friend. He paid a doctor to have her committed. I was 2 years old and taken to the Willesden Childrens Home.
She died there about 10 years later aged 33 years and given a paupers funeral in the East Ham Jewish Cemetery.
There are supposed to be 2 thousand people buried in the vicinity, which is now a luxury apartment block.

Added by Mark Rimmell on 27 March 2015
Carolyn Boon,
I have emailed them & have never a reply!
Kaz.
Added by Kaz on 28 March 2015
That's so sad Mark Rimmell.
Added by Carolyn on 29 March 2015
My mother Mina Rimell,was a Jewish Russian refugee living in Palestine. He never wanted to marry her but the army authorities insisted that since she was pregnant he must do the 'decent thing'. They came to Hanbury Street in the East End where I was born. He had met another woman who became pregnant....hence the payment to a doctor to certify my mother and have her removed to the Colney Hatch Insane Asylum. A Rabbi who I found after much searching long after she had died told me that not once did she even realise she was in an insane asylum but in a prison..and constantly asked 'Why?' and 'Where are my children and my husband.? 'She was constantly sedated and eventually died aged 33 years old. I met my fathers' new son, my half brother, who told me more of the story..Particularly that his new wife absolutely refused to take in two 'Jewish' children..I am wriitng my story..I am 81..and made a successful life in the movie industry..and spoke with Charles Chaplin in 1968 who unknowing to me and to him gave me the title when he remarked 'From the moment we are born ,we are sentenced to life''Sentenced to Life'..I hope will be completed...
Added by Mark Rimell (known as Rimmell) on 17 April 2015
Mark - please make sure you let me know when completed as I should love to read it.
Added by Carolyn on 19 April 2015
I wonder if the new luxury apartment dwelling gardens converted from the Friern Barnet Mental Hospital still contain some of the graves of those unknown people or were they disinterred and re buried...I suspect not...
Added by Mark Rimell (known as Rimmell) on 19 April 2015
Incredibly moving story Mark - thank you for sharing it. I too suspect the pauper's graves (over 2500 of them!) are still there. I can't find any evidence to suggest otherwise.
Added by Dave P on 19 April 2015
I was at this place in 80's - it was such a random few weeks in my life, but I have vivid memories of the place and people there. Nice folks, great chocolate brought by visitors. We are all so vulnerable. To anyone who knows me I am a healthy happy American mother of 4 teens.. but this place holds a special little place in my heart - it is a reminder of all our frailties. To this day I cherish my sanity after my time at FB. Happy Spring All!
Added by DF on 19 April 2015
It doesn't bear thinking about. I wonder where the designated burial site is/was?
Added by Carolyn on 20 April 2015
See photo 1727, which shows the burial ground. A comment in 2013 says it's now very overgrown.
Added by Colin Barratt on 22 April 2015
The burial ground has not been used since the 1870's. Those people who died at the asylum (not claimed by relatives) were sent to New Southgate Cemetery to be buried. I am familiar with the old burial ground, and as far as I can tell, there is now only a stone which reads "consecrated ground". I remember reading somewhere that the other stones have since been removed (none of the graves were ever marked). The two large burial registers were deposited at the London Metropolitan Archives, but the larger, main register is now "long-term" missing when one asks to see it.
Added by Lori on 21 June 2015
I have found where my Bartholomew Corner is buried after being in Colney Hatch Pauper Lunatic Asylum. If anyone needs any help in tracing yours let me know & I will check for you. Name & date of death should be all that is needed.
Added by Kaz on 22 June 2015
Hell Kaz, would be very grateful if you could find where Abia Butfoy is buried, he died on the 7th July 1853. Thank you. Sara.
Added by Sara Brooks on 25 June 2015
Hi Sara
I have checked everything i have & i'm sorry i can't find him :<(
Kaz.
Added by Kaz on 27 June 2015
Sara,
Just been looking through newspapers & have found some bit on a Abia Butfoy , not sure if he is connected to you, was yours a policeman?
Added by Kaz on 27 June 2015
Any info on Martha, aka Amelia, Coste - born 1828 died 14 May 1881 In the asylum. Thankyou
Added by Carolyn on 29 June 2015
Sorry Carolyn,
I can't find anything....I did check the British Newspapers online & there are thousands of articles on Colney Hatch & it's going to take a long time going though different sections.... Might be worth you getting a subscription ??

Added by Kaz on 01 July 2015
Hi Kaz, thank you for trying anyway. Yes, he was a policeman, he was involved in The Dagenham Murder. See top post on this page which gives more information. Best wishes, Sara.
Added by Sara Brooks on 02 July 2015
Thankyou also for trying for me. I'm not sure if there would be an article relating to her being in there. Carolyn
Added by Carolyn on 03 July 2015
Is there any information about a George James Cording working at Colney Hatch in 1914, also a lady Grace Eva Cording there in 1911?
Added by Jeremy Renn on 01 August 2015
Sara Brooks, I am also related to Abia Butfoy, he was my 3rd Great Uncle, I'd love to get in touch. My email is palula25@hotmail.com I hope to hear from you. Either way I wish you all the best, Paula
Added by Paula on 25 November 2015
I bought a flat that backed on to the grounds of Friern Hospital, Sycamore Hill. While I was there, a film crew was
filmed a making a film. Any ideas what it was.. ?a very sad place
Anonymous comment added on 30 December 2015
You do not say when you lived there but two feature films were made at Friern - 'Britannia Hospital' which was made in 1982 when the hospital was still alive and 'Beyond Bedlam' which was made in 1994 after it had closed
Added by David Berguer, Chairman on 30 December 2015
I have written about my mothers' incarceration in 1935. I never was tempted to visit the site. By great coincidence as a member of a film crew we filmed there in the 1990s a week before it would be closed forever and converted into luxury apartments and is now renamed 'Primrose Court'. It was a small scene for 'Longitude featuring Jeremy Irons and so at last I walked through the gates and into that dreadful interior.I guess it was meant to be...We filmed for just one day .
Added by Mark Rimmell on 30 December 2015
It's actually called Princess Park Manor, not Primrose Court
Added by David Berguer, Chairman on 31 December 2015
Hello,
For anyone interested; I have recently moved to Friern Village behind Princess Park Manor and in learning about Colney Hatch I will be making a point of looking into the original burial ground (following Peter's past suggestion of there being burial markers in the overgrown bit next to the entrance). I know from passing that area several times that there are some structures in there. They appeared to most likely be sheds, though.
Updates to come...
Added by Melissa D on 11 January 2016
Melissa - I shall look forward to it!
Added by Carolyn on 12 January 2016
Melissa, have you seen photos 1727 and 1728? These show the burial ground as it was. I don't know if the marker is still there. Perhaps you would let us know.
Added by Colin Barratt on 12 January 2016
Thank you David Berguer for reminding me that Colney Hatch is now called Princess Park Manor and not Primrose Court..
Added by Mark Rimmell on 12 January 2016
Discovered in SELECTED POOR LAW REMOVAL AND SETTLEMENT RECORDS:
ABIA BUTFOY, aged 37, No 34 Crop Street Green St. Weaver, See former examination in book 1847 Folio 261.

ELIZABETH BURTON. 27 years, same address, says she was cohabiting with the above named ABIA BUTFOY (It seems they never legally married! I wonder why?) and by whom she has 3B and (cannot read 19th century handwriting!) See Examinatin ABook 1847. Cannot say where she belongs,says that her parents are dead and she was put into our House (Workhouse) when very young. See Father's examination in book 1826, folio 42.


Added by Arabella Seymour on 25 February 2016
My mother was the receptionist at the hospital for 12 years in the 70s and early 80s. As a kid I used to walk down from Woodhouse School to meet her and it was a strange part of my life to sit around four an hour in a mental hospital at the end of each day! After school I worked there in the summers as a porter in 83 and 84 (I think). An incredible place filled with stories and history at every turn.
Added by Andy Caddy on 18 March 2016
I am the grand daughter of Charlotte Butfoy "Annie" who came from Bethnal Green - she married Alfred Bray. Brentford has also been mentioned. I am keen to know more about her
Added by Penny Young on 27 March 2016
I've just read an article (from 2012) which quotes the developers of 'Princess Park Manor' who say that they discovered a secret tunnel from the hospital to New Southgate station "in case any famous politicians or royalty were brought in as patients." I wonder if anyone can shed any light on this?
Added by Dave P on 12 April 2016
As far as I am aware New Southgate Station was originally built to service the needs of the immense institution and had nothing to do with secretly delivering VIPs. The more I read about this institution and others scattered over the country. We would now call them 'Concentration Camps/Internment Camps' not to be confused with 'Extermination camps'. My mother was placed there in 1935 and died there in 1943/4. At 83 I am writing my memoirs as I have mentioned previously. This and other places were designed not only for the insane but (Quotation Julian Huxley 1930) so that people with disabilities could be segregated from everyone else in the name of perfecting the human race' Also to be designed as 'Miserable places with spartan conditions and harsh work regimes'. I read in my researched too that a government official declaimed that 'Only by hard work and harsh conditions could people be truly be rehabilitated'.
The signs above Dachau and other Nazi camps came to mind 'Work Sets You Free' !!!
Added by Mark Rimmell on 04 May 2016
Hi, I have just come across this forum on the net. I am trying to trace my 2nd great grandfather Henry Merson. He was admitted into the Asylum on 23rd March 1867 and died 2nd December 1868. Is there any way of finding out what he was in there for and any treatment he may have had please?
Added by Sharon Skingley on 15 May 2016
As far as I am aware treatment was minimal. Too little staff and patients were sedated most of the time.Those that were able were put to work and as I have mentioned the place was designed to be a 'miserable place with spartan conditions and harsh work regimes.' This I have taken as a quotation from one of the officials which can be seen on Google. Very few records seem to exist but maybe 'Kaz' who occasionally comments on here could help you.Good luck in your search.
Added by Mark Rimmell on 21 May 2016
For a history of the asylum, please refer to my book 'The Friern Hospital Story'
Added by David Berguer, Chairman on 21 May 2016
My sister has been investigating our family history and has found that our great grandfather George Dennis was an inpatient at Colney Hatch for 4 years from 1888 to 1892. He was admitted because he had epilepsy and had frequent fits. He was married with 5 children but could not work as a foundry worker when the fits increased in frequency. He died in April 1892. My sister has found details of his medical records at The London Metropolitan Archives in Clerkenwell. She thinks he was buried at New Southgate Cemetery and has contacted them to confirm if this is true, We are waiting to hear back from them.
Added by Kate Sparks on 17 July 2016
I'm trying to find any information about my uncle Israel Elbling (known as Izzy) who was committed to Friern Barnet in the mid 1930s for ridiculous reasons and lived there until he died in 1990. Apparently he was full of mischief and once caused a ruckus because he told one of the staff who was actually a reporter from the News of the World that he wasn't allowed to tend the tea parties with the female patients because he seduced them. This was told to me by a doctor. Izzy was in his 70s at the time. Any information would be greatly appreciated.
Added by Peter Elbling on 05 August 2016
My grandmother worked at Colney hatch in 1923, she was just 16. Her name was Doris (Dolly) White and was attacked by one of the patients.
Added by Amy carter on 24 August 2016
My Grandmother Annie Key was a patient there from about 1930 till she died in 1964. I would really love to know why. It's said she died of septicemia caused through a broken hip.
Added by Roz Green on 26 October 2016
I oftem wonder if one can believe any of the 'causes of death' quoted on death certificates..One wonders how she came about the 'broken rib for example?...It was a horrific environment from the moment it opened ...
Added by Mark Rimmell on 27 October 2016
Hi, I'm researching information for a book. Im trying to locate any information I can on two separate patients (some say it was the same patient but I am inclined to disagree): 1) Nathan Kaminsky otherwised known as David Cohen, born in 1865, later admitted to Colney Hatch and perished in October of 1889 from "exhaustion of mania"

2) Aaron Kosminski otherwise known by Aron Mordke Kozminski was born on September 11, 1865, later incarcerated at Colney Hatch in 1891 and eventually released. Minimal information claims Kosminski died at the age of 53 on March 24, 1919 in London. No known photograph exists of either patient. I.am.wondering.if there was possibly a group photo shot that might have been taken that might possibly have either patient. Any other links to records would be greatly appreciated.

Another question I have concerns some treatment practices during this time (electroshock therapy, transorbital lobotomies, roman bath treatments, etc.). Pretty much from 1860's to theearly 1900's leading up to the 1903 fire.
Added by Michael Roman on 27 December 2016
Any information regarding Aaron Kosminski aka Aron Mordke Kozminski born September 11, 1865 died March 24, 1919, who was incarcerated at Colney Hatch between 1891 and 1894. Looking for possible photographs involved in group photographs, possibly. What group inmate photographs exist from the time of 1891 to 1894?
Added by Michael Roman on 27 December 2016
Hi, does anyone know of any one with the surname 'Carter' at Colney Hatch? My 2nd great grandmother's father (born 1829) is consistently and particularly recorded in many records that he was born in Colney Hatch (But all his siblings are just recorded as being born in Finchley). If he was not born in the building I imagine he would just be recorded as being born in Friern Barnet or Finchley? He was the first born and was baptized at St James the Great - abode recorded as Colney Hatch, however, his sisters were baptized in St Mary at Finchley, but they were living at Lodge Lane by that time. Does anyone know if there are any patient/inmate or even perhaps officer lists available online please? Also, does anyone have any knowledge about the street called Dungar Place? Struggling to find any trace of it anywhere, which led me to this website. Would greatly appreciate any info or advice.
Added by Jayne Cook on 20 February 2017
My Grandfather worked as a maintenance man in Colney Hatch around 1920's, it was through him that my mother met my father,my mother travelled from Wales to become a nurse there in 1920 when she was 18, she left to get married in 1928, she was also attacked by a patient Amy, and if the matron had not be doing her 'rounds' I would not be here, the patient was strangling her. My mum was a kind and compassionate person, I don't doubt there were some awful 'treatments meted' out and I find it very difficult to place her in that environment. She tried to go back after the war part-time, but found the treatment the patient were receiving on the wards too upsetting. later in the 1950-60s my late sister-in-law worked as a secretary there and I went with her and my brother to one or two dances there, the corridors were quit grim even then.
Added by Audrey Wilde Nee Young on 21 February 2017
Michael Roman - I am assuming this is the Aaron Kosminski who was the suspect in the Jack the Ripper case?
wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Kosminski
Added by Carolynkate on 22 February 2017
I believe my grandfather died in 1922 in Colney Hatch his name was Mark Moses. I have found his death certificate and am trying to find out why and who initially signed him into the aslyum. Do you know where any interment records could be found
Added by Carol Wilson on 29 March 2017
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