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Iron used by patients in psychiatric hospital, c. 1920-1940

Patients in the laundry department of St Audry’s Hospital in Suffolk used this iron. The hospital opened in 1829. During the 20th century, it used manual labour such as gardening or laundry work as therapy. This stimulation was thought healthy for mind and body. The iron may have been part of this work therapy. It was only used by a patient considered stable enough. In the 20th century, many institutions began using more expressive therapies such as arts and crafts as rehabilitation. Suffolk County Asylum was renamed St Audry’s Hospital in 1919. It introduced occupational therapy for men in 1934 and for women in 1947.

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Glossary: psychiatric hospital

Psychiatric hospital specialising in the treatment of serious mental illness, usually for relatively long-term patients.

Glossary: laundry iron

instrument, not metal