I was very interested to read the article on
Broadmoor Hospital written by John Heritage in
the June 2002 issue of Berkshire Family Historian.
My husbands great great grandfather, George
Lanham, was sent to Broadmoor in 1875 from
Cambridge, after he attempted to poison himself
and four children in 1874. One boy, also named
George died but the other boys survived. I found
the details of the case after 18 months of
research. I had the parents names
George Lanham and Lucy Oliver who were
married at Cambridge in 1869. I also had the
births of the boys but very little else. A census
search of the 1881 index enabled me to locate
three of the boys in the workhouse at Cambridge
and I searched for their parents death,
assuming that would give me the answer. It was
the receipt of the death certificate for George
Lanham aged three which stated that he was killed
by his father that enabled me to track down
his father. He was sent to Broadmoor, having been
found criminally insane in 1875. I contacted
Broadmoor in August 1998 to ask for further
information but all they would do was to confirm
that George Lanham was a prisoner and died in
1881 at the hospital. I wrote to them again, to
ask whether they had a photograph of George,
having seen that Cambridge Gaol photographed
their prisoners. I wrote again asking about a
photograph but once again I had the same refusal
Feeling disappointed I decided to press the
issue and wrote to the Home Secretary at the time
asking to see the records but received no
response. I then wrote to my MP quoting freedom
of information which was banded around at
the time, and to my delight received a letter
back from the Health Department, via my MP, which
gave me permission to view the records. I wasted
no time in contacting Broadmoor but they said
they would provide copies of the information only
and guess what, on a proper search of the
file, they found a photograph. I have since been
to Broadmoor to see where George was buried.
Trevor the chaplain showed both my husband and me
the burial ground and with the aid of a plot
plan, we were able to roughly ascertain the spot.
I would be more than pleased to see a museum for
Broadmoor in the area, such as the one for
Dartmoor prison. I understand that the archived
documents may be in the Public Record Office soon.
I am not sure how I feel about sharing
Georges documents, but I guess that is the
price of freedom and I can live with that.
Just for the record, George was a deeply
religious man and said he was taking his children
out of a world of sin and to a better place.
Please address any response to .