Merrifield Children's Unit
Merrifield Children’s Unit (also known as Merryfield or Merrifields) was a residential children’s and adolescents’ psychiatric institution in the grounds of Tone Vale Hospital (an adult mental hospital) approximately 3 km (1.9 miles) north west of Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton, Somerset, England, in what is now the village Cotford St Luke.
The Merrifield Unit was established by psychiatrist Dr Martin Frank (known as 'Jim') Bethell (d. 1982) as a regional unit for the treatment of young people. By November 1961, it was catering for 36 'psychotic and maladjusted' children. In the mid-1970s, the Merrifield buildings were upgraded, and a substantial new extension was opened in March 1976 by Sir Desmond Pond.
The Unit served the whole of South West England, and for much of its existence its management was under the control of Dr Bethell and nursing officer Donald Mackey. Other child psychiatry specialists associated with Merrifield included Dr Adriaan Bakker and Dr Frank Bayley. Of the Merrifield patients, one observer notes, "Some of the children, although highly disturbed, were extremely well read and educated."
References and allusions in literature
In her memoir, The Light in My Mind, Joyce Passmore writes of being admitted to Merrifield in 1957 at the age of 13 suffering with epilepsy, prior to being transferred to the main adult hospital. The novel Delivered Unto Lions by David Austin is based on the experiences of a Merrifield patient in the 1970s.
Tone Vale Hospital, Merrifield Unit’s parent institution, was closed in 1995, as was Merrifield itself. The entire site is now occupied by the newly built village of Cotford St Luke. Merrifield is succeeded by the Orchard Lodge Young People's Unit located in Cotford St Luke.
- County Asylums
- "Obituary". British Medical Journal (Clinical research ed.). 284 (6316): 673–674. doi:10.1136/bmj.284.6316.673. PMC .
- "Obituary". British Medical Journal (Clinical research ed.). 284 (6326): 1416–1417. doi:10.1136/bmj.284.6326.1416. PMC .
- Psychotic and Maladjusted Children (Hansard, 29 November 1961)
- Hinton, David, & Clarke, Fred. (Eds.). (1997). The Tone Vale story: a century of care. Bishop's Lydeard: Rocket Publishing. p. 43. ISBN 1-899995-05-6
- Elsevier Heath Sciences. (1976). The medical directory, 1976: general alphabetical list A - Mac & Mad - Z, Part 1. Oxford, UK: Churchill Livingstone. p. 156. ISBN 978-0-443-01440-6
- Passmore, Joyce. (2010). The Light in My Mind. Yeovil, UK: Speak Up Somerset. ISBN 978-0-9549772-5-2
- A YEOVIL woman has published the harrowing story of her life in the hands of mental health services including 15 years confined to a hospital which carried out controversial t...
- Austin, David. (2010). Delivered Unto Lions. Dooagh, Ireland: CheckPoint Press. ISBN 978-1-906628-21-5
- Tone Vale children's unit remembered in novel (From This is The West Country)
- Tone Vale Hospital – Somerset | derelicte – urban exploration
- Cotford St Luke
- Farr, Hannah, & O’Herlihy, Anne. (Compilers). (2004, November). Child & adolescent mental health in-patients units in England, Scotland, Wales and Belfast: unit directory (2nd ed.). London: College Research Unit of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. p. 32.
- Media related to Cotford St Luke at Wikimedia Commons, which shows some of the former hospital buildings