Emily Orley

Click here to edit subtitle

Found Lunatic By Inquisition

with Elinor Brass, April 2006

An immersive installation with sound inspired by the history of the local area and the idea that memory can be contained within the fabric of a place

Hoxton Street has a rich history, having been home to poor houses, lunatic asylums, saloon theatres and political dissident groups for centuries. 

Hoxton House on Hoxton Street, owned by the Miles family, became an asylum in 1695 and continued into 20th century. It was demolished in 1911. Referred to by Coleridge in 1803 as The Hoxton Madhouse, it included sections for private (fee-paying) men and women, for male and female pauper lunatics, for criminal lunatics and for 'maniacs' from the navy. It was the naval lunatic asylum until 1818. 

Although it is unclear how lunacy was diagnosed in the 18th and 19th centuries, Leonard Shelford's 1847's A Practical Treatise on the Law Concerning Lunatics, Idiots, and Persons of Unsound Mind gives a detailed explanation as to how one might have been found lunatic by inquisition and what happened thereafter.