Fiddington House – a brief history.

We do not know where these typewritten notes came from but they tell the story of the origins of the Fiddington Asylum.

Typed notes on Fiddington House, an asylum at Market Lavington

The notes transcribed

In 1816 a Mr Willett, linen-draper in Devizes took premises* in Market Lavington which he named the ‘Market Lavington Retreat’. The Gazette of March 27th 1817 carried an advertisement for this home for the insane. The conductors announce that they have taken for their model the celebrated ‘Retreat at York’, and describe their grounds as ‘pleasantly situated with several acres of ground appropriated to horticultural pursuits, calculated to induce the patients to take bodily exercise’.

The Asylum filled so rapidly that in 1832 when Fiddington Hill Farm and Manorial Rights came up for sale Mr Willett bought these new premises and enlarged and adapted them. It was 1834 before the patients were transferred to their new home where they now had fifteen acres of garden and grounds for recreation. A press notice advertising Fiddington Retreat speaks with enthusiasm of the lovely surroundings, and stresses the fact that there is now ample space for ‘maintaining these distinctions desirable according to the circumstances of life’.

Ann Saunders, in her book entitled ‘Russell Mill’**, says, ‘Uncle Willett and Aunt established a lunatic asylum. My aunt made the house comfortable and uncle made it lively. He laid out the grounds and built the house at Fiddington’.

*Those first premises were at Palm House, High Street, Market Lavington

** We have a photocopy of this book at Market Lavington Museum

Tags: , , , , ,

2 Responses to “Fiddington House – a brief history.”

  1. William Barnes Says:

    On researching family history I came across my grandfather x 4 who left a will in which he was in the employ of a Robert Willet Esq of Fiddington house Wiltshire .This was in the mid 1800 are there any records of employees at this time ,my grandfather was Joseph Ashley of Market Lavington he died in 1849, his wife was named Pamela . The history of the Fiddington house and Willet family are I find so interesting a visit in the near future is a must thank you for the information .

  2. Becky Barker Says:

    Hello, Are there any records of asylum admissions in 1841

Can you add anything to this or do you want to know more?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: