Posts Tagged ‘insane’

Recently I went on a trip with friends out to Italy, more specifically Venice. We stayed around the Lido area which is around three kilometres away from the abandoned island of Poveglia. In the port at San Marco we saw a ship called Poveglia and we took it upon ourselves to ask them if the boat did indeed go there… blank faces. This was a similar event when we asked the local police too, seems it was not a well heard of place.

The island itself is not on the main routes, and there are no tourists being guided around. I had hoped we’d find out a way to get there but sadly not. However this hasn’t deterred me from recounting this curiosity. I am sure someone may be able to correct me where I go wrong. (Hope so anyway).

The Island seems to have a lengthy history attached to it, records suggest that in the 9th Century it was fairly well populated but had suffered plenty of wars and attacks. In 1379 Venice came under conflict and the people from Poveglia were moved to the Giudecca. The Venetian government built a permanent fortification on the Island; the Octagon there is still visible today. It remained uninhabited until it was offered to the Camaldolese monks in 1527, they refused to take it. In 1661 descendants were then offered the Island but again it was refused. It was still left empty and abandoned.

1777 saw the Island being used by the Public Health Office who used it as a check point for goods and people as they came and went through Venice. 1793 saw the plague changing the island once more, several cases of the plague on two ships meant that it was a temporary confinement place for the ill. It was a place made permanent in 1805, and the church of San Vitale there was destroyed, the old bell tower was then converted into a lighthouse. It was closed down in 1814.

The 20th Century was used as a quarantine station once more, and then in 1922 the buildings that were left had been converted to a hospital for the mentally-ill and for long-term care. This was the case until 1968 when the hospital was closed, the island was used for a while after that but now is closed off.

So on to the creepy bits? That’s what we’re here for right?

The mental asylum doctor was no doubt given his tyrannical legend like so many others of the time, due to practising lobotomy and other, now, barbaric practises. He was tortured by his patients, went “mad” and then jumped to his death from the bell tower. However the story says that he survived and was then strangled by a mist from the ground.

Other sources say that so many people were buried and burnt during the time of the plague that the ground is half human-remains. The local fishermen will give it a wide berth to ensure they will not fish up the bones of ancestors and a stay overnight would most like produce interesting tales, Ghost Adventure’s went that way themselves and discovered this to be much the case. The locals are either unaware of this place, or will feign disinterest leaving only the more curious and grizzly minded wanting to go there.

A rather good first account from someone that has visited can be located here: MENTAL FLOSS

Poveglia Googled

Okay here goes! This one is pretty famous to those of us that like to watch horror at the very least. As the setting for the Session 9 Film (the cast of CSI in a horror?) it has a very interesting history let alone the ghost stories… so hold on to your coffee/tea and get ready for a blog that could be rather lengthy. The State Lunatic Hospital was a psychiatric hospital located in Danvers, Massachusetts. Built in 1874 and opened in 1878 it was a self-contained hospital built according to the Kirkbride Plan. One of the rumours boasts it as a birthplace of pre-frontal lobotomy (lush!).

It was originally two main centre buildings which had the administration and had four radiating wings. There were kitchens, laundry, a chapel, dormitories, boiler  house and other detailed rooms from the plans and records that exist. The water came from Middleton Pond. Over the years they added other buildings and most of the buildings on the campus were connected by a series of confusing underground tunnels. Part of this underground myriad of tunnels was a hub for maintenance; this was nicknamed “The Wagon Wheel”. The older tunnels were used in the Session 9 film. With the original plan being to house 500 patients it’s no surprise that with over 2000 by the late 40’s overcrowding was a major issue. People were held in the basements of the Kirkbride and of course this will add to the stories of  ghosts, tales of horror and anguish.

The asylum was established for residential treatment and care for the mentally ill, in the 1890’s Dr Charles Page, superintendent, declared the use of mechanical  restraint as unnecessary and harmful in some cases. There was more then one account of the way in which people that been treat, the idea of inhumane shock therapies, lobotomies, drugs to control the patients and the time honoured tradition of the straight-jackets. June 24th 1992 the hospital closed, the buildings were left to rot and it was not until many years later it was demolished.

The property was sold to Avalon Bay Development in December 2005 and they demolished most of the buildings, despite an outcry about the matter. June 2006  spelt  the last of the demolition, including the Kirkbride, only the Danvers Reservoir and original block shell remain, buildings are worked around it, Avalon Bay predicted they would have properties ready by Fall 2007.

A spanner in the works came up April 7th, 2007 when four of the complex buildings and four of their construction trailers burnt down. The fire was visible 17 miles away in Boston and investigation began. Avalon Bay provided a live webcam of the construction at the old hospital site however they cut out around 2:03am; it could be due to the damage from the fire. The underground tunnel to the power plant still exists though it is blocked off, and now the only thing left of the asylum are the cemeteries, blocked off tunnels and the brick shell of the Admin, D and G Wings.

So what of the ghosts? Now converted into apartments there have been reports of flickering lights, of full body apparitions, footsteps and audible sounds, and the doors that like to open and close seemingly of their own accord. Here goes:

2001 horror Session 9 is filmed around here, I thought it was a pretty good film.

In Project 17 by Laurie Faria Stolarz teenagers break in to investigate the haunted asylum.

In Mage: The Awakening (Role play game) the hospital in the World of Darkness was administered by vampires who fed on the patients.

It is also believed to be a widely used source of inspiration for H P Lovecraft’s Arkham Sanatorium, alongside the Asylum that shares the name in Batman. It is referenced by name in H P Lovecraft’s Pickman’s Model.

it is located in Mayfair, Central London. In the 1900’s t was known as the most haunted house in London. It was made famous by Peter Underwood’s mention of it in Haunted London. For those that are not aware Peter Underwood is famous for his investigations into Borley Rectory and was the literary executor of the Harry Price Estate, he is well respected for his approach into Paranormal Research.

From 1770 to 1827 it was the home of British Prime Minister George Canning, it has since changed hands a fair few times but is now an antiquarian book dealers, Maggs Bros.

Legend has it that the attic is haunted by a young woman who committed suicide in it, she threw herself from the top after being abused by an uncle. In contrast there was another story it was a man locked in the attic room, fed through a hole in the door until he went mad and died.

George Canning was the first to report odd noises and strange things whilst living there. In 1885 the house was brought by Mr Myers who had been jilted by his fiancee. It was here that he slowly went mad and the reputation grew from there on.  As a bet in 1872 a Lord stayed the night, shot at an apparition but then found only the cartridges in the morning.

In Mayfair Magazine. 1879. a maid that stayed in the attic was found to have gone mad. She later died in an asylum the following day and oh the day she was reported to have been found a nobleman took up the challenge to stay the night, he was then found dead and the coroner pronounced it was due to fright.

1887 Sailors from the HMS Penelope stayed the night, on was dead in the morning having tripped as he ran from the house.  Another reported that the ghost of Mr Myers rushed towards them.

Curiously the house has not had any reports since the Magg’s Brother’s got the place in the 1930’s and remark that the tale of the house seems all too familiar in comparison with Lord Lytton’s story The Haunted and The Haunters.

 

 

A great degree of outrage was expressed about the rioting in London, people taking to the streets causing vast damages to cars, shops and property in general. In the 1780’s there was a London Riot that I believe was far worse in comparison, was this due to the care and conditions they were in or are we simply no good at organising a rebellion? We’re out of practise, we’re more civilised with our approach? Who knows but rioting, rebellion and other forms of protest about the place have really been a history of the world.

 

Outside Bedlam and inside, the controversy of the mentally ill do not just apply today. Registered private madhouses, publicly funded or care in the community how can the “insane” be cured? Speaking on a rarely personal level about this, I suffer depression, it comes in bouts, it can be extreme or mild. I can have the majority of the symptoms controlled by fluoxetine which also aids the companion to my depression, OCD. Most people that meet me say they cannot tell, I have to politely point out that unlike a missing arm, a blind eye to injury or an obvious disease with symptoms mental illness still faces good and bad days as an illness.

 

So let’s take it back a bit, with such a troublesome irk as myself who cannot possibly function without the intervention of a quack Bethlehem it is! Of course those “ignorant do-gooders” outside often thought there would be a better way to deal with it. Partly from fear of the unknown it’s pretty simple to think that everyone in a madhouse is literally sat there rocking, hair half pulled out, drawing over the walls with pens or blood and picking at scabs… yes the plight of the mad from a media sense really hit the news. Made all the more poignent by an attempt to burn down Bedlam to allow the “prisoners” out.

 

Some genuinely would have been misplaced, there is no argument there but others might be in need of being detained for their own good. When the rioters hit the streets all of this became background noise just like the recent riots. The effects on the mass populous and the damges to property, alongside controlling the situation take over.

 

So how did they fare?

 

The Gordon Riots – anti-Catholic riots that lasted for a week

 

  • 40-60,000 people involved
  • 285 rioters were killed
  • 173 injured
  • 139 arrested
  • 12 rioters were imprisoned
  • 25 people were hanged
  • 50 patients from Bedlam handed themselves in rather than face rioters
  • Estimated cost £180,000

 

The London 2011 Riots – Lasted Two nights in major effect, regards the shooting of 29yr old Mark Duggan

 

  • Arrests 1802
  • 1st Night, 310
  • People Charged 1032
  • 5 deaths
  • 16 injuries
  • 20800 emergency calls (no telephones in 1780) compared to average 5400 = 400% increase.
  • 2169 calls to the fire stations = 15 times normal amounts
  • Police injured = 44 on the Monday night
  • Minimum cost of the riots over 1 million pounds
  • Specific listed incidents numbered 160

And my next look is likely to be at the Ginhouses…

London’s pretty famous for a variety of reasons but one of the places I read about when I have the time is Bedlam. Bedlam was originally the St Bethlehem Hospital, in 1247 when it opened and was nicknamed Bedlam.

It was a lunatic asylum and possibly one of the first of it’s kind in England, other uses and the word Bedlam is now synonymous with chaos.  So it comes as no surprise that there are many stories roaming around about it, paranormal or otherwise.

Archaeologists were brought in to survey the area with a proposal for Crossrail tunnelling. The bodies have been removed for study. It has posed interest on a macabre level because of the bodies being found uncoffined and there could be thousands in numbers. It’s a significant number of patients and their stories which will hopefully be brought to life via the London Museum at some point.

From opening it’s door it accepted the “insane” and did so as a Religious priory until Henry VIII managed to close them, 1547 it shut it’s doors only to be refounded as a Hospital which in 1598 was reported as full of squalor and neglect.

With decaying buildings, a cesspit threatening to overflow and unchecked drains it would have been a horrific place. The patients hardly faired any better either with iron restraints, buckets of water and the lash being used to control them.

The howls of the patients were enough to drive other men just as mad, the notoriety of the place made it a tourist attraction. It was possible to pay a penny to walk through the place and to witness it first hand.

London faced a realistic crisis of the dead overcrowding the city, the graveyards were at crisis point. Gatherings from Graveyards is a book that was in response to the crisis and in graphic detail for the time is given a unique look into the problem. There is a distinct possibility that the numbers of dead there are brought to the graveyard as they have space. The reason this is more likely is also that Bedlam was a hospital and like any other they would discharge patients or the bodies could be sent to the deceased’s local parish instead.

I am told that there is a series about this place and that it’s based on ghosts and hauntings. For every real historical situation someone will find a reason to use it for a TV series eh! Personally I think a Lovecraftian or Poe style story based on it would be brilliant so if you know any do pass them my way.