Years in the Wilderness

It has now come to light that following the York Incident, Anthony Glass spent between 1933 and 1940 in Bootham Park Hospital, also in York. Whether this was a direct result of what happened at the City Art Gallery, or if his crumbling mental state finally required him to seek rehabilitation is not clear. Either way, the trail goes somewhat cold at this point.

Bootham Park Hospital was built  as York County Lunatic Asylum around 1777, and was one of the earliest psychiatric hospitals in the North of England.

In 1772 at a meeting at York Castle, the Archbishop of York called together gentlemen of the three ridings of Yorkshire, along with Dr Alexander Hunter and architect John Carr. His intention was to create a lunatic asylum to prevent the mentally ill from being placed in unsuitable institutions like prisons. Carr’s practice was at its peak and the grand building was completed by 1777.

With its applied Tuscan columns, pediment and fashionable Venetian windows, it was reported in the press as “an elegant and expensive affair”, but it didn’t please everyone. William Mason, a Precentor at the Minster, wrote that its extravagant design was a waste of public money and suggested it should instead be advertised as “a lunatic hotel”. It was later discovered that despite its grandiose exterior some patients were held in terrible squalor. Indeed the conditions at the asylum were the stimulus for the foundation of the The Retreat at York which became world renowned for its pioneering treatment of the mentally ill.

The abuses at the York Asylum later became the centre of a great controversy. A national investigation in 1813-14 led to questions in Parliament. Some of the asylum records were burned in a suspiciously timed fire and two different sets of financial accounts were discovered. The resulting scandal led to substantial reforms in the way the hospital was run.
historyofyork.org.uk

If the information I’ve discovered is correct, Glass would have been around 50 years old when he emerged from Bootham Park, by which time the Second World War was underway. I think it’s quite unlikely he would have been drafted to the war effort with his history of mental instability – but with no career, no reputation, very little family and surely a dwindling or non-existent inheritance, what would Glass do next?

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