Sylvia Laurie
Table of Contents

Growing up

"They put me in there when I was 19 years old in Grove Park, when I was 19. Well I went off my head, I used to have screaming hystericals, screaming hystericals, and so they put me there, till I got over it.

My parents couldn't stand me, they couldn't stand my nonsense! But I got out of it a long time ago, I got out of it a long time ago. I'm grown up now. My mum and dad got me home, got me out of there on my birthday. I was 11 years at Grove Park Hospital and 12 years at Darenth Park Hospital. Mum and Dad used to visit me, weekends, Saturdays and Sundays, but not any other day. They used to let me go home for Christmas, they used to let me go home for Christmas, just for a week, it was a treat. Didn't like to have to come back. Some people didn't have anybody and they used to have to stay there at Christmas.

There was a school nearby, and I used to see the school kids from the wards. I used to see them running around and playing outside, and wished I could join them!

There used to be wild cats living there. We used to feed them and give them milk and cat food, Whiskers and fish. I love animals! I'm not allowed to have animals where I live now. Used to be a lot of wild cats at this hospital for years.

There were some horses down there, loads of horses in the fields, and we used to stroke them we did. We used to pinch the apples and pears in there, apples and pears and feed them to the horses, we used to go to the orchard and pinch the apples and pears."

Daily Life

"When the patients didn't use to do what they was told, they used to give them the draught to put them asleep, they used to give them draught when they played up or run away, run away from Darenth or Grove Park Hospitals.

They used to jump over the wall, and the police brought them back again, the police brought them back again. They used to give them a draught and put them in the rubber room, in the rubber room for running away. Punish them, you know, punish them, that's how cruel they was.
It was very big. There were a lot of long corridors, a lot of long corridors to go through. They was cruel to the very old ladies, they couldn't care less about them, they just threw them anywhere, anywhere, they couldn't care less, like you was a bit of dirt. Really cruel! Really spiteful! Really savage! They was afraid of the staff.

I used to stick up for myself; they didn't come it with me. I didn't like that Sister, she was horrible! She was a kind of head nurse, head domestic. If I saw her now, I'd say, "Get out of my way!" The domestics used to carry all the keys on their dresses, to lock up on the Lock Up Ward, they used to call it. Used to hear them rattling when they walked along.

I do think about it often because it was so cruel and unkind, and they couldn't care less. It's hard to forget it really… It is hard!."

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