Market Lavington Museum

An Asylum Belt

Fiddington House was a privately run lunatic asylum. The asylum was set up in the early nineteenth century by Mr R Willett. Originally it was at Palm House on Market Lavington High Street, but it fairly quickly outgrew those premises and Mr Willett was able to buy Fiddington House which, at that time, was a part of West Lavington. The parishes were sorted out later in the 19th century and Fiddington House became a part of Market Lavington.

Reports show that Fiddington House was highly regarded. Mr Willett comes in for praise in these regular reports. In the 1844 report, Mr\Willett was taking his paying ‘guests’ and he also took in paupers for eight shillings (40p) per week.

But what was this belt for?

Part of a belt at Market Lavington Museum

This belt piece forms a part of the Market Lavington Museum collection.

The belt is named - R Willett Fiddington House

It clearly belonged to Mr Willett but the photographs do not make clear that it is made of metal. We guess it might have been used in some way to restrain patients. Are we right? Can you help us with that? If so then do contact the curator.