The Revolutionaries of Littlemore Hospital

Published by


24 May 2021
Selfie of Ruby Hello, my name is Ruby and I work for My Life My Choice which is a self-advocacy charity for people with learning disabilities in Oxfordshire. I have been there since 2017. I am a Travel Buddy trainer, a Power Up trainer and I am also part of the Young People’s group.
Satellite image of Littlemore Hospital This is a blog about a research project I was involved in, called the Revolutionaries of Littlemore Hospital.


Littlemore Hospital was an institution located in Littlemore, Oxford.

Image of a man behind bars with the caption 'Lunatic' It was first opened in 1846 as the ‘Oxford County Pauper Lunatic Asylum.’


The patients who went there were believed to be ‘lunatics,’ at the time this meant criminals or people who had learning disabilities.

Man in a military uniform outside a hospital It was turned into a Military hospital during the First World War.

In 1922, it reopened as ‘Littlemore Hospital’.

Man crying It wasn’t a nice place to live.

People were abused and worked for little or no money.

Woman in distress, with her hands on her head Electroconvulsive Therapy (E.C.T) was used with no pain relief nor without the patients’ permission.
Christmas tree and gifts There were very few good things about living there. We think food and Christmas may have been one of the only good things.
Hand holding a pen over a piece of paper Life at the hospital was so bad that the patients resisted.


Some wrote poetry and songs about their experiences.

Man in a firefighter uniform Some tried to live a normal life by getting a job. Some patients were firefighters!
Man in hoodie smiling Some patients from other hospitals played pranks on hospital staff.
Person in t-shirt with arrows towards a person in a skirt Some patients from other hospitals even tried to escape.
Boy with arrows to a young man, with more arrows to older man These patients were lucky because some of the patients who stayed would live there for the rest of their lives.
Head stone Sadly, some of the patients died at the hospital.


There isn’t much left to remember the patients or their experiences.

Group of people with recipe book and bowl This is why we, My Life My Choice Young People’s Group, have written stories and recipes based on what we learned: to remember the patients and their experiences.
Ruby with a plate of brownies It inspired me to write an escape story. This is my story.
Silhouette of a girl My character in the story was called Rosemary Dawson.
Image of a calendar page The story was set in December 1963.
Woman with a through bubble of her family Rosemary wanted to escape from the hospital because she wanted to see her family again after 7 long years.
Man with his knee raised bouncing a football She kicked a football far away and used this as a distraction to try and escape.
Silhouette of a person sneaking past gates Rosemary kicked the ball hard and ran out of the gate.
Man with his arm raised pointing the way for a girl She asked a man called Martin for help at The Littlemore Train Station.
pub building Martin surprisingly knew her brother, William from the pub he worked at called The Grapes.
two people walking outside a house He brought Rosemary back to her brother, who then took her home to have Christmas dinner.


graphic of a person with arms raised and the text swinging sixties Rosemary was glad that she escaped when she did. She was free in one of the best decades, the Swinging 60s.
Group of people with recipe book and bowl Other young people from My Life My Choice also wrote their own stories. You can find them here.
Bowl of cake mix I also wrote some recipes: ‘bread and cheese’ style cake and baked bread pudding.
Woman making thumbs up gesture I have enjoyed doing this project.


It has made be happy because I have found creating these stories and recipes fun.

Woman with a thought bubble of an image of people in nurses uniform I have also enjoyed it as I have learnt new things about Oxford and the lives of older people with learning disabilities.


I think it is important to know about the past so we can stop these bad things from happening again.

Image of a woman with a giant thank you speech bubble Thank you for reading!