29th July 1865
St Saviour’s hospital’s foundation stone is laid
St Saviour’s Hospital, on Prince’s Tower Road, was purpose built to care for patients’ mental health. It took three years to construct, between July 1865 and July 1868, when it opened its doors to its first residents. The hospital was built on the site of Queen’s Farm, which the health authorities rented from the States of Jersey.
The institution was originally called the somewhat less palatable Jersey Lunatic Asylum and, after that, the Jersey Mental Hospital. It was finally named St Saviour’s hospital in 1963.
Laying the foundation stone
The foundation stone was laid by his lordship, the bishop of Peterborough, who was visiting Jersey at the time and also laid the foundation stones of St Simon’s District Church and St James’s Boys’ and Girls’ Schools. He was assisted by the Lieutenant-Governor, Major-General Burke Cuppage. The bishop wasn’t such a strange choice to lay the foundation stone: he had been born in Jersey, but also died, in Witby of a ruptured blood vessel, at almost the exact date of the hospital’s opening.
The hospital frequently posted advertisements for its services in the local and national press. One such advert, carried by the 3 November 1868 edition of the London Evening Standard, read, “Jersey Lunatic Asylum – This Asylum, situated in one of the most healthy and beautiful spots of the island of Jersey, and about three miles from the town of St Helier’s, is NOW OPEN and affords every accommodation for PRIVATE PATIENTS. Term – First class, 100/. per annum; second-class, 50/. per annum – Further information may be obtained on application to the Medical Superintendent.”
Clearly there was no variation in price for male or female residents, but there was a difference in the wage that the institution was willing to pay its staff depending on their gender. On New Year’s Day 1869, the Daily Telegraph & Courier, published in London, carried another advert from the hospital: “Jersey Lunatic Asylum – WANTED immediately, for the Jersey Lunatic Asylum, a HEAD MALE ATTENDANT. Salary £30 per annum, with board &c. Also a Female Head Attendant, salary £25 per annum. They must be able to read and write well. None need apply who have not had previous experience – Applications to be made at once to the Medical Superintendent, Jersey”. Not only did the female head attendant (the job title of which wasn’t even in capital letters like the job for her male counterpart) receive less pay; she also missed out on the “board &c”, which would have reduced her effective pay still further.
The asylum used to hold an annual picnic, during which it would take its ‘inmates’, as the press described them, on an excursion around the island. Each year, the papers reported the fine weather and good behaviour of the patients, but it sounded like a somewhat stiff and rather militaristic affair, with the patients called back to their vehicles with a bugle call, at the sound of which they would all fall in.
On 18 December 1872, the Hampshire Advertiser reported on “an escaped lunatic in Jersey”. Jacques Cabot had broken out of the asylum the previous week and not been caught until the lieutenant-governor heard the smashing of a window at St Saviour’s Church. The culprit was Cabot, who claimed he’d been inspired to damage the building after already having done the same to several houses in the neighbourhood.
The main part of the hospital closed when a new facility opened in 2014 and it was left unused until the decision was made to sell the building and site. Unfortunately, this attracted the interest of vandals, who broke a window and started a fire inside the building in January 2017.
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