Intended for healthcare professionals


Henry Rollin

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 25 March 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2339
  1. Robert Bluglass, Warwick
  1. robert.bluglass{at}

Psychiatrist who helped transform Britain’s asylums

The mental asylum belongs to a vanished era. Buildings accommodated up to 2000 patients, for whom treatment possibilities were severely limited. Supervision was carried out by untrained “attendants,” and there were few medical staff. Henry Rollin, who recently died aged 102, was one of the last to have experienced those days when the medical superintendent was sovereign over his realm, able to shape and influence every aspect of the lives of sometimes thousands of people.

The first part of Henry Rollin’s career spanned the final days of these institutions, firstly at Caterham, a “mental deficiency” hospital; then at Cane Hill Hospital, Coulsdon; and finally Horton Hospital, Epsom, where he was consultant and the deputy medical superintendent from 1948 until 1975. Horton was one of five mental hospitals that the Metropolitan Asylums Board established in Epsom towards the end of the 19th century to accommodate 10 000 patients.

When Rollin joined the staff in 1948, Horton was being re-established after …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription