Cheerful prospects and tranquil restoration: the visual experience of landscape as part of the therapeutic regime of the British asylum, 1800-60

Hist Psychiatry. 2009 Dec;20(80 Pt 4):425-41. doi: 10.1177/0957154X08338335.


The early nineteenth-century asylum in Britain was generally sited upon a hill with wide-ranging rural views, surrounded by agricultural land, gardens and landscaped grounds. A number of historians have discussed the role of these features as places for patients to partake in recreation, exercise and work. This paper will add to this literature by exploring the possibility that, alongside this active participation and interaction, the passive experience of viewing the landscape and the location of the asylum within a rural setting were also expected to have a therapeutic role.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Architecture / history*
  • Environment
  • Esthetics / history*
  • Gardening / history*
  • History, 19th Century
  • Humans
  • Maintenance and Engineering, Hospital / history*
  • Mental Disorders / history*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Mental Health Services / history
  • Recreation / history
  • Religion / history
  • Rural Health Services / history
  • United Kingdom