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The Crichton Royal Hospital
In the years since 1839 'The Crichton Royal' has achieved international renown as a mental hospital. The following selective extracts taken from the 'History of Crichton Royal Hospital 1839 - 1989', by archivist Morag Williams, describe the founding and early years of the hospital.

On 4th June 1839 the first patient was admitted to the brand new purpose-built asylum, the Crichton Institution, on the southern side of Dumfries; she was admitted from Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary just a mile down the road. The new asylum was described by the Saturday Magazine of 20th July l839 as "surpassing everything of the kind that has yet been established in Europe."It would have been most interesting if that first patient had been able to leave for us an account of her impressions of her new abode. However, what we do know with hindsight is that for her and for the asylum the prospects were good.
[Dr James Crichton]DR.JAMES CRICHTON 1765-1823.
In the year 1765 when James Crichton was born, his father, a Writer(Solicitor), was Provost of Sanquhar. After training in medicine, and on taking up service with the East India Company, Dr. Crichton made his fortune as a trader in India and China and in his profession, particularly as physician to the Governor General of India. His book of oriental maps and engravings, published in 1796, is a prized possession of the Crichton Royal Hospital Archives, as is his teapot of Chinese origin bearing the Crichton Crest and motto 'God Send Grace'. The teapot was made at Ching te Shen towards the end of the Ch'ien Lung period, 1736-1795, of the Ch'ing dynasty.Unfortunately the crest as depicted on the tea-pot is thought to be incorrect.It seems that errors were sometimes created in detailing armorial porcelain because orders were placed at Canton and relayed to Hong merchants who then transmitted them to Ching te Shen. It is therefore not clear whether the error in the Crichton crest was deliberate.
[Mrs Elizabeth Crichton]After returning to his homeland in 1808, Dr. Crichton purchased in the following year the estate of Friars' Carse, situated on the banks of the River Nith and neighbouring the property of Ellisland, recently tenanted by the poet, Robert Burns. It was to this property that he took in 1810 his bride, Elizabeth Grierson, aged 31 years and 14 years his junior. She was a daughter of Sir Robert Grierson of Lag and Rockhall and a descendant of the notorious persecutor of the Covenanters.After only thirteen years of marriage Dr.James Crichton died. Having made provision for his family and friends by the terms of his will dated l2th November l82l, which included granting the liferent of Friars' Carse to his wife, a codicil dated 20th November 1821 stated:
"It is my wish that such remaining means and estate shall be applied in such charitable purposes .... as may be pointed out by my said dearly beloved wife with the approbation of the majority of my said Trustees."
The sum involved was about £100,000. Mrs.Crichton's Co-Trustees were her brother, Captain William Grierson,(later Colonel Grierson of Bardannoch); her neighbour, Captain Charles Johnston (later Admiral Johnston of Cowhill); her brother-in-law, John Crichton of Crichton Hall,Sanquhar (Writer); and Thomas Manners, W.S., her husband's Edinburgh lawyer.
In Mrs.Crichton's own words of December 1823:
"It was my most anxious wish to attend in the STRICTEST manner to the wishes and positive instruction of my husband." In attempting to execute his wishes she met with a major obstacle to immediate progress: "My intentions in this respect, however, have for the present been put a stop to by a summons from Mr. John Crichton by which I perceive that he has determined to dispute in a court of Law the validity of his Brother's Settlement."

It was 1829 (by which time her fellow Trustee, Thomas Manners, was dead) before Mrs. Crichton was legally empowered by "an unanimous judgement of the Court of Session, affirmed in the House of Lords" to proceed with her plan.
As she expressed it in a letter to the Trustees of 4th June 1829 there were three main conditions to fulfil: one, "the charitable purposes"; two, the bequests to "friends"; and three, the bequest to "relations": "incomparably the first in importance are charitable purposes. As to these the question which I have felt it to be my duty to consider, is, what species of charitable purpose is best calculated to answer the benevolent intentions of my Husband - to do honour to his memory and at the same time most effectually to advance the Interests of the Public. I have bestowed much reflection on this subject, and the result has been a deep-rooted and conscientious conviction that nothing can so happily correspond with my Husband's intention often expressed to me .... as to appropriate by far the large proportion of the Residue of his Fortune in Founding and Endowing a College at Dumfries .... for the Education of poor Scholars."
She was hoping that having obtained the approval of the other Trustees, including her brother-in-law, the Government might be prevailed upon "to take the charge and direction of the proposed College, so as to give it from the first the station and advantages of a University." Before concluding the letter she said: "you will see that I ask nothing for myself. I am satisfied with the provisions made for me, because they were such as my husband sought fit to assign. The only reward I look for is the consciousness that I have left nothing undone on my part, to render his memory an object of public respect and private affection."
Her optimistic mood of 1829 resulting from her communications with Robert Peel and His Majesty's Government and the Commission on the "Scotch Universities" was overturned in the course of the next 4 years.
An interesting letter of October 1829 (by which time a proportion of the fortune had been expended) from Dr.Henry Duncan of Ruthwell to Mr. Hope-Johnstone of Annandale gave an assessment of the scheme:
"The pecuniary means offered by Mrs.Crichton from her husband's Trust Fund are £85,000. This sum though considerable cannot be regarded as ample when the magnitude of the scheme in view is contemplated. I must therefore take for granted that government will at once relieve the funds from the burden of the Annuities, and also of the necessary buildings, in the expectation perhaps of raising one half of the sum requisite for the latter's object by public subscription, otherwise I do not see how even a respectable commencement can be made. This would leave the Trust Fund untouched for the endowment of the different chairs, bursaries, etc. and for various other necessary or useful objects."
Mr.J.J.Hope-Johnstone, M.P. for Dumfriesshire, who had been pressing the Trustees' case with the government, was obliged to convey a refusal "to bestow such privileges as would render the Institution respectable and efficient." The existing under-utilised Scottish universities had also helped doom the scheme.
However, on the 31st October 1833 when the Trustees formally abandoned the university scheme Mrs. Crichton bounced back with a new set of proposals that "a certain part of the funds should be appropriated towards founding and endowing a Lunatic Asylum in the neighbourhood of Dumfries upon the most approved plan and capable of accommodating 100 patients."
"Mrs. Crichton further proposed that a sum not exceeding £3,000 should be appropriated to founding a free school at Sanquhar where Mr. Crichton was born for the education of the poor classes of the Community in that parish." (By the terms of Dr. Crlchton's will Dumfries Academy was to receive £3,000. too, on the death of Mrs. Crichton.)
Her brother, though absent from the meeting, was no doubt in accord with his fellow Trustees in granting unanimous approval to the two schemes. The public, however, were not so well disposed to the idea. A scurrilous attack on the proposed establishment, labelled as the "Crichton Foolery" , appeared in the Dumfries Times dated 19th November 1834. "They (the Trustees) should know that the erection of a public madhouse is a mode of appropriation which the town and neighbourhood entirely object to as wasteful and uncalled for." The article proceeded to argue that other asylums in Scotland could answer the needs of the local population. Furthermore, what had roused the "Correspondent" to such ire was the "absurdly disproportionate magnitude of the scale on which it is planned."

In February 1834 forty acres of the Mountainhall Estate at Hillhead were purchased for almost £5,000 by the Crichton Trust, which was reduced to three members that same month with the death of John Crichton.
An eminent Scottish Architect, Mr. William Burn of Edinburgh, was invited to draw up plans for the new asylum. Mr. Burn had designed Murray Royal Asylum at Perth and also the present Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh; his local works included Craigielands at Beattock and several churches in the South West, for instance Morton Church at Thornhill.
By the mid 1830's the Crichton Trust reserves would not permit of the building of Burn's entire plan which was composed of two linked Greek crosses. The trio of Trustees gave approval to the erection of just over half of the original plan, that is the northern portion of the present building known as Crichton Hall, which at the outset was called the Crichton Institution. On 20th June 1835 Mrs. Crichton delivered her prayer of blessing for the building which was soon to take shape.

"It is my earnest wish and desire that this building should be founded on the faith of God. It is built from the funds of my husband, which were acquired solely by the great blessing of God upon his honest industry.* From a poor youth he became a rich man, but he ever acknowledged with the deepest feelings of gratitude that to Him who had been his God and his Guide the praise alone was due."
"Deeply impressed by those feelings, it is the sole and most earnest wish of my heart to present this Building and Institution as a humble offering of gratitude to God, and humbly, and upon my knees, in the presence of Him who seeth the hearts of all His creatures, I dedicate it to Our Father in Heaven, humbly and earnestly beseeching Him to turn His eyes from the sins of her who offers it, and for Christ's sake to hear her prayer:- 'O. Lord God Almighty. I draw near, and with humility and trust I commit this Asylum to Thy care. I am alone, weak, feeble, and friendless. But Thou art Almighty. Take it, therefore, into Thy Keeping. Oh, bless it with Thy best blessings. Keep it from corruption, and from sin. Take it entirely into Thy care; let not the Devil or man prevail against it to hurt it; and in everything relating to it, from the greatest to the least. Oh ! be thou its Director and its Keeper, its Guide and its God. Never leave it, never forsake it. Keep it as the apple of Thine eye. Bless it, oh my God, and it shall be blessed'."

* Mrs. Crichton stressed that her husband had acquired his riches "upon his honest industry". One wonders if this was her way of answering those who have questioned over the years the nature of his trade in the East.

Seven days later on 27th June 1835 there was no ceremonial laying of the foundation stone, merely feasting for the 160 men working on the site. The Dumfries and Galloway Courier of 1st July records: "They took the road to their lodgings as well as they were able .... some of them a good deal top heavy .... and in the evening there was rioting and fighting."
Two oil paintings in the hospital's possession exhibit interesting features of the design of the asylum. One depicts the buildings as they were designed by William Burn - not as they were executed - that is, the whole main building with its identical twin towers, an elaborate central dome, and a high wall running round the periphery. The service buildings which included laundry, stables, stores, and dung heap are also shown; not surprisingly this range of buildings was not permitted to 'grace' the front (western) aspect for long, and after other sites were found for them they were demolished in 1857. This move would have pleased Mrs. Crichton herself because writing to Admiral Johnston, possibly in 1856, she said: "The present offices have always been a great eyesore, particularly the smoke and the great want of having no place for the Horses and Carriages of the Directors whilst at the Asylum on business." (However, she was philanthropic enough to add the rider, "still if we could in any way do good to a larger portion of our fellow creatures, I would prefer it.")
It is interesting that this precise scene was also featured as a woodcut accompanying an article describing the new asylum which was printed in the 'Saturday Magazine' of July 20th 1839. Furthermore, in the hospital's collection of early artwork by patients the same scene recurs several tirnes. It is not clear who the original illustrator was: it is hardly precise enough to have been commissioned by the architect himself.
The other painting dated 1847 is by Joseph Watson, a local professional artist, who resided at Castlebank, Glencaple Road. (Other examples of his work are owned by Dumfries Burgh Museum). The artist has detailed his impression from the high ground to the North East of the hospital (where the golf course is now located). The main asylum building, set against a charming backcloth of Glencaple and Criffel, is seen as two-storeyed from this vantage point because of the lie of the land and reveals the caged balconies where patients exercised in bad weather and which were glazed in stages towards the end of the nineteenth century. Crichton House (Campbell House) where the Superintendent lived, is in the foreground.
Mr. Ernest Errington, who became Secretary and Treasurer to the Crichton Board of Management in 1960, calculated that it cost £38,149 to erect the original hospital and a further £4,506 to equip it.
One of the regulations of the new asylum was that a patient's name was known only to the Visiting Committee, the Medical Officers, and Matron.
The first patient as we have already learned, was admitted on 4th June 1839, the day after the Hospital opened. She would have been placed on the west side of the building as gentlemen were housed in the east. This thirty-year-old childless blacksmith's wife was suffering from delusions. Her illness was purported to have been brought on by a fit of jealousy at seeing her husband hand his snuff box to a good looking young woman in the next pew during a church service: "the patient walked to the asylum under the charge of some friends. She is much emaciated, the skin sallow and dirty looking; the aspect that of prostration and dejection."
Some four years later on 15th May 1844 the patient was discharged: "the progress .... towards a healthy and happy tone of mind has been very gradual .... the light of reason rendered her almost good-looking."

DOCTOR W. A. F. BROWNE 1838-1857
While the hospital was being built Mrs. Crichton in casting around for a worthy medical officer had her attention drawn to a book published in 1837. The book, called 'What Asylums Were, Are, and Ought To Be', had arisen from a series of five lectures delivered to the Managers of Montrose Royal Lunatic Asylum (which had the distinction of being the first of Scotland's Royal Asylums) by the Superintendent, Dr. William Alexander Francis Browne.
Dr.C.C. Easterbrook and Dr.J. Harper, later Superintendents at Crichton Royal, described the book as "epoch-making" and a "fighting book written under the impulse of burning indignation" respectively. As well as indicating various systems of classification of patients Dr.Browne included his own system:

I. Idiocy. Non-development of faculties.II. Fatuity. Obliteration of Faculties.
1. Gradation. Non-development of all the powers.1. Partial.
2. Gradation.External senses developed.2. Complete.
3. Gradation.A propensity or affection developed...
4. Gradation.An intellectual power developed...
III. Monomania. Derangement of one or more faculties.IV. Mania. Derangement of all the faculties.
Section ISection II1. Mania with increased activity.
1.Satyriasis.1.Incapability of perceiving relations of ideas.2. Mania with diminished activity.
2.Homicidal and destructive.2.Incapability of perceiving relations of external things...
3.Proud.3.Incapability of perceiving qualities of external objects...
6.Cunning and suspicious.....
7.Religious and superstitious.....
8.Desponding and suicidal.....
11.Benevolent or affectionate.....

Moral treatment of the patient, which meant something akin to treating the patient as an individual, was the key to his scheme. In the ideal asylum Dr. Browne declared: "The whole secret of the new system and of that moral treatment .... may be summed up in two words, kindness and occupation."
His aim was "recovery", not confinement, of the insane. "The key to cure could only be held by a physician of the highest order: a man of high moral and physical courage who tempered his benevolence with a judicious mixture of firmness and persuasion, a man whose final goal was not set aside for short term gain."
Here is Dr. Browne's description of his ideal asylum: "Conceive a spacious building resembling the palace of a peer, airy, and elevated, and elegant, surrounded by extensive and swelling grounds and gardens. The interior is fitted up with galleries, and workshops, and music rooms. The sun and air are allowed to enter at every window, the view of the shrubberies and fields, and groups of labourers, is unobstructed by shutters or bars; all is clean, quiet, and attractive. The inmates all seem to be actuated by the common impulse of enjoyment, all are busy, and delighted by being so. The house and all around appears a hive of industry." (It will be deduced that had Dr. Browne been present when the plans for Crichton Royal were being drawn up the set-up might have been slightly different.) After driving in March 1838 to Montrose in her yellow and black C-spring coach Mrs. Crichton presented herself at the asylum for an interview with the unsuspecting Dr. Browne. Favourable impressions must have been formed because the post of Resident Medical Officer at the new asylum in Dumfries was offered to him and accepted there and then. The value of this appointment, effective from 1st July 1838 and commanding a salary of 350 per annum, cannot be over-rated for either party.
On the one hand the 33-year old Dr. Browne was given the inestimable opportunity, for a young man brimful of ideas, of starting with a clean slate for the implementation of these ideas. On the other hand Mrs. Crichton could have found no abler promoter of her aim to establish an asylum that would be "the best in Europe" than the man who had formulated such a comprehensive and humane scheme for an ideal asylum.
In practice, as in Dr. Browne's lecture on his ideal asylum, there was no aspectof his real establishment's workings that he did not consider. Take for example the furnishings: "Every article should be constructed in reference to two important principles: the perfect safety of those for whom it is intended, and the similarity it should bear to what is in common use, and to what custom has made familiar and necessary. The following may serve as examples: the windows consist of a double-sashed iron frame-work, uniting the four great requisites of perfect security without the appearance of restraint, free ventilation, the admission of light, and the command of a beautiful landscape. Gas has been introduced into every room in the House, and it is conceived in such a manner as to defeat the designs of the mischievous as well as of the suicidal....It may appear undignified that the man of science should direct his ingenuity to the arrangement of a curtain....Whether formed with French draperies or with canopies, the curtains are suspended by springs from the roof which sustain a certain weight only, so that the whole fabric descends like a parachute when pressure is made in a straight line. The bedsteads have been constructed so as to combine safety and elegance. In the case of paupers, for whom bedsteads of iron are provided, every precaution has been taken to baffle cunning and despair. The toilet-tables have the glass affixed to them; and where the basin-stands are convertible into toilet-tables, the lid is secured by a lock, so that, when necessary, the utensils are secured from breakage, and cannot be used as weapons of destruction or for improper purposes." ( 1840 Report).
In 1843 Dr. Browne turned his mind to improving the quality of the water supply at the asylum. His son, later known as Sir James Crichton Browne ('Crichton' in his name stemmed from the fact that Mrs. Crichton was his Godmother), described the situation in the "Foreword" to the "Chronicle of Crichton Royal". "Dumfries in those days had no public water supply .... river water, more or less contaminated with sewage, was carted through the poorer streets and sold at a halfpenny a pailful. My father speedily, even in those pre-sanitarian days, recognised the danger of the existing system as far as the Crichton Royal Institution was concerned, and insisted on the construction at the highest point on the property of a series of sand filter beds through which all water passed on finding its way by gravitation to the service tanks." (These filterbeds were located at Hillhead). "The wisdom of this provision was soon vindicated. In 1848 there was an outbreak of cholera in Dumfries, proving fatal to 430 of its inhabitants. The epidemic surrounded the Crichton Royal Institution. There were cases in Cherry Trees, a village to the south-west, and in a farmhouse to the north of it, but not a single case occurred within its walls. My father was at first inclined to attribute its immunity to a strict system of quarantine he had established, but soon came to realise that it was to the sand filter beds that it owed its protection from the pestilence."
Dr. Browne's elegantly written annual reports, which he used as propagandist vehicles to convert the general public to his views, and his case notes reveal a degree of interest and knowledge of his patients that could only have emanated from a truly caring and dedicated individual.
In the absence of the sophisticated drugs at the disposal of psychiatrists today Dr. Browne from the very outset attempted to ensure that his patients were kept busy and interested. In his report of 1850 he said :"lt is at all times sound policy to render the insane useful or impress them with the conviction that they are so."
"Occupational Therapy" was practised at Crichton Royal long before the term had been invented. The first annual report contained a list of activities in which patients were encouraged to become involved.
The New Moon Library and Magazine.
Since 1839 there has been a patients' library at Crichton Royal to which the public was invited to donate books. It was Dr. Browne's practice to tempt patients to read by leaving books Iying invitingly around the various galleries. Naturally more books would be found in the upper galleries which housed the most tranquil patients; the fractious patients of the ground floor galleries, though not denied the pleasures of reading, would be less inclined to do so and much more inclined to engage in wanton destruction. Dr. Browne declared in 1844: "It is certainly as expedient to bestow care on the Library as upon the Laboratory."
The sister occupation of writing was fostered too. In order to give purpose to this activity the "New Moon Magazine", priced sixpence (21/2p), made its appearance in 1844. This was the first time that psychiatric hospital patients had contributed to and produced their own magazine. Widely circulated and bearing a title, which would be branded as offensive in many quarters today, this monthly magazine was so profitable that by 1846 a printing press was purchased from the profits, as were some fresh stocks for the Library. (Its price was reduced to threepence in 1874; and finally it was distributed gratis from 1893).
Whenever a suitably qualified or interested patient came along he or she would be entrusted with managing the Library, located in the tower, or with editing or printing the New Moon Magazine. In the early 1850s the contents of the Library were catalogued and, although Dr. Browne's Report of 1851 indicated that it was being printed at Crichton Royal at that moment in time, recent research indicates that it was printed in the spring of 1853. This was established by the fact that each edition of the New Moon Magazine included lists of recent acquisitions for the Library. It appears that this is the earliest Scottish psychiatric hospital library catalogue in existence, although Murray Royal at Perth has a much more attractively presented one which appeared in 1863.
A patient in the 1850s who was a printer to trade was persuaded to undertake some printing duties. He made such progress that he struck a bargain with the authorities: he would assume the job of printer provided he "is regarded as a voluntary boarder who does not pay his board". His case notes continue: "As a patient he is discharged!" Unfortunately the nature of his illness did not permit this state of affairs to continue indefinitely.
Eventually the volume of printing being conducted led to the employment of a full-time printer. Adam Richardson, a man with an extraordinary compulsion to invent and who is credited with installing voice tubes for communication between Crichton Hall and the Superintendent's house in 1870, held the post for twenty one years until 1883.
The New Moon Magazine continued to be produced almost without interruption until 1937 when the hospital magazine was changed to the Crichtonian. Nowadays the in-house magazine is called Crichton News.
Today the patients of the hospital, composed as they are of a large number of geriatric and comparatively short stay younger patients, cannot begin to rival the literary merit of those of the first hundred years when men like J.B .R., a former divinity student and a patient of sixty years standing - having spent ten years previously at Montrose - or D. F., a local schoolmaster and poet, were contributors.
References to the New Moon Library ceased in the 1880s: about that time the CRI Library came into prominence. It was located on the ground floor of the present day Cluden Ward on the left hand side of the door from the main corridor. When Easterbrook Hall opened in 1938 the Library moved there.
For a time from the 1940s a dual system of lending was in operation: books from the local public library augmented the hospital's own supply of books. In the late 1970s only public library books were loaned out.
However, books, belonging to the original New Moon Library and considered by a representative of the National Library of Scotland to be worthy of retention, are available for reading within the new museum established to commemorate the hospital's 150th anniversary.
The original museum established by Dr. Browne in 1846 was housed in the uppermost section of the original tower. As with the Library, the New Moon Magazine was the vehicle through which appeals for exhibits were made and in which donations were recorded. Items like the "ivory necklace from the Red Sea supposed to have belonged to one of the Pharoah's handmaidens" or a piece of wood from the "Dalswinton Steamboat" of 1788 may have been of dubious authenticity or value. Nevertheless, some of the artefacts like the considerable coin collection, stuffed birds, and bronze age axe-heads had merit. Under Dr. Browne's successor, Dr. James Gilchrist, who was an avid collector particularly of botanical specimens, the museum expanded considerably. Showcases were set up in the corridors of Crichton Hall. As the Second World War approached space was at a premium. The museum was dispersed. Some of the showcases were given to schools while botanical specimens and axe-heads were formally handed over to the Dumfries Burgh Museum: but sadly the fate of the vast majority of the collection is unknown.
Theatrical Productions.
Tremendous emphasis was placed by Dr. Browne on entertainment. One and all, staff and patients, were encouraged to participate in concerts. In 1843 for the first time ever in a mental hospital, patients at Crichton Royal produced a play "Raising The Wind": the actors, too, were patients.
Art Therapy
The hospital has a large volume of art work collected by Dr. Browne 1839 to 1861. In a pamphlet published anonymously by Dr. Browne in retirement he described the collection as being contained in three volumes, the contents of which he described in detail. Closer inspection of our volume revealed that it was dated 1886, the year after Dr. Browne's death, and that this volume was probably compiled from the remnants of the original three volumes .
One can only regret the loss of almost all of the work by a professional Cumbrian landscape artist, who earlier in his career illustrated some early editions of Scott's Waverley Novels; also missing is a range of pencil drawings of patients whose significance will be appreciated later.
A description of one particular artist will provide insight into Dr. Browne's technique. The case of R. C. on admission in 1843 did not look hopeful. "The hereditary taint is broad and deep": seven members of his immediate family had severe mental problems. Five years before coming to Crichton Royal the patient, a former officer of the East India Company, had a nervous breakdown as a result of intensive study of oriental languages, for which he had a considerable aptitude.
At length Dr. Browne persuaded his charge to design a playbill for a forthcoming theatrical production. Having embarked on the task, the patient decided that it would be the best playbill ever. The end-product was tri-lingual carrying details in English, Hindustani and Parsee.
At this point Dr. Browne was pleased with his patient's progress but added: "He still deals in sesquipedalian words." This remark was characteristic of Dr. Browne's humour since he was accusing his patient of liking to use long words when of course he was just as guilty of the charge.
It was a short step from designing the playbill to going to see the production. What man of talent on seeing his companions involved in a dramatic production could resist participating in the next one to be staged! This he did most creditably - all the more remarkable, Dr. Browne commented,when he has been "separated from the world for five years, much of which he has spent rolled up in a carpet and prostrate on the floor." In 1846 having spent three years in the Hospital Dr. Browne records: "After achieving many triumphs in histrionic and pictorial art .... this gentleman .... was liberated."
Nursing Lectures
The chief obstacle Dr. Browne found to the creation of his ideal asylum was that suitable staff was not available. Attendants or nurses were untrained: yet they were the people constantly in contact with his patients and were therefore likely to have the greatest influence. In an attempt to remedy the situation in 1854, six years before Florence Nightingale instituted her Nightingale Training School at St. Thomas ' Hospital, London, Dr. Browne began a course of nursing lectures. He recorded in his Report of 1855: "A course of thirty lectures was commenced in October, 1854, and continued weekly until May, in which mental disease was viewed in various aspects; in which the relations of the insane to the community, to their friends, and to their custodiers, were described; in which treatment, so far as it depends upon external impressions, the influence of sound minds, of love, and fear, and imitation, was discussed; and in which it was attempted to impart attraction, by illustration and narrative, and to convey instruction by examples drawn from the actual inmates. The descriptions were powerfully aided by portraits of patients familiar to the auditors, most graphically executed by a patient who had lost, but regained, his genius as an artist .... The class consisted of the officers, the male and female attendants, some of the patients who belonged to the medical profession, and occasionally a visitor. The attendance although perfectly voluntary, was numerous, attentive, and grateful." (The loss of a great number of the fifty five portraits of patients by W. B. is very regrettable.)
These lectures proved to be a landmark in nursing history and a very enterprising move for a psychiatric hospital, though like the equally enterprising use of anaesthesia at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary for the first time in an operation in Europe only eight years earlier, those involved were not truly aware of the historical value of their actions at the time. (It is worth saying that on the medical front Dumfries must have been a very exciting place in the middle of last century).

In step with the perceived requirement of the times the Hospital expanded and contracted again. At its peak it extended to some 1000 acres in area and housed up to 1300 patients. In addition to its own water supply it had power station, farm, gardens, and various ancilliary services with all the necessary trades-people to run them assisted by suitable patients as part of their therapy. It was at one stage virtually self sufficient.
The expansion of the hospital resulted in the erection of some attractive and interesting buildings by such architects as William Burn, Sidney Mitchell, and local man Walter Newall amongst others.Virtually all the buildings on the site have been recognised as being of architectural significance and are protected by being listed as either Category A or Category B buildings.
A gradual contraction began in the 1970's with the farm being taken over by The West of Scotland Agricultural College, wards closed when no longer required, and surplus buildings being leased out. This contraction accelerated in the 1990's and in 1995 the site, excepting those buildings still required by the Hospital,was purchased by the Regional Authority to preserve it as an amenity for the people of the region. It is now known as 'The Crichton' as separate from Crichton Royal Hospital and is run by 'The Crichton Development Company' which was set up to run and develop the site.
In 1999 on the threshold of the new millennium it could be said that Mrs Elizabeth Crichton's original wish may eventually have been achieved with the establishment of the Crichton University Campus. This unique development in Britain if not the world hosts two Universities and a College - an extension of Paisley University, Crichton College of the University of Glasgow, and a section of Bell College, Hamilton. The three establishments although operating independently combine to share certain facilities such as Library and Students Union.

[Mrs Elizabeth Crichton]On May 19th 2000 His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, unveiled a bronze statue of Mrs Crichton during a visit to the Crichton University Campus. The sculpture was commisioned by the Crichton Trust with funding from the Universities of Glasgow and Paisley and the Landale Family Charitable Trust. The Sculptor was Professor Bill Scott (born in Moniave) of Roslin, Midlothian and the statue was cast by John Brazenall. The statue, mounted on a single block of local Lacharbriggs sandstone sited between Crichton Memorial Church and Easterbrook Hall, shows Mrs Crichton seated looking towards the campus area and holding in her hand a book depicting the Goddess Athena.

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