While the Norwich asylum catered exclusively for paupers, the County Asylum in Gloucester was set up to receive both paupers and paying patients of higher social classes. Music formed an important part of the asylum’s programme of recreations for these patients from the 1840s, and it seems that the pauper patients were gradually included in these activities.
One of the innovations at Gloucester was the introduction of singing classes for patients of all classes in 1842. It’s not clear from records how long the classes lasted. However, the Asylum’s Visitors recorded a number of benefits from musical participation. Music was an important entertainment and brought great pleasure to the patients. Learning the music and practising for a concert gave the patients plenty to do with themselves: filling time in a structured way was one of the key challenges facing asylum management. Participating in music also made the patients ‘kindlier’ and more likely to think of others.

The Crescent at Gloucester main site

Musical activities later in the century are similar to those found at Norwich. A band was formed in the 1860s, again to play for dances and other recreational activities, and the chapel boasted an organ and choir. Despite the early involvement in patients in music, it seems that from the middle of the century most musical activity was carried out by the attendants, with the patients either listening or participating in dance. When a second complex of asylum facilities was founded in Barnwood in 1883, it was the weekly dances that were established as a mainstay of entertainment at both sites.

The Clock Tower at Barnwood site
The Clock Tower at Barnwood site