Fallen Women: The Lock Hospital Asylum Project at Morley

Thursday July 19th. 1787.

Johanna Westcot, 22 years of age last October. her Mother died when she was 4 yrs old, and her Father when she was 14. Left her Service with a Sailor who deserted her and having been obliged to dispose of all her Cloaths was reduced to the necessity of going upon the Town, and has been so for 7 years… Can read & work with her needle.

Ran away.

The stories of Johanna and the other inmates of London’s Lock Hospital Asylum were discovered in a handwritten register, and offer a unique and compelling insight into the lives of many young women in London in the late eighteenth century. 

We’re very excited to introduce a new workshop, in partnership between our Drama department and the London School of Economics, exploring the patient histories of the women of the Lock. ‘Unlocking the Lock’ will encourage you to connect with your creative side and let your imagination do the talking to read between the lines of these sparse histories. What did Johanna and her fellow inmates experience? Where did they run away to?

About The Lock

London was a city of stark extremes of wealth and poverty, religious fervour and enthusiastic sin. Prostitution was rife and syphilis commonplace. Founded in Westminster in the 1740s, The Lock Hospital was one of a wave of charitably funded medical institutions set up in this period. Its focus on venereal disease was distinctive and reflected both the depth of concern about the social costs of this disease and the stigma attached to it. The Lock was, effectively, London’s first sexual health clinic.

Treatment at the Lock Hospital was free for patients, who were drawn from the large numbers of poor who could not afford private care for their condition. Donors to the hospital had the right to sponsor patients, while parish authorities also paid to have poor members of their communities treated at the hospital. 

While male patients were expected to be able to return to their previous occupations after being cured of venereal disease, female patients were seen as both more vulnerable – having often been cut off from the support of their families – and more ‘morally threatening’ through their involvement in sex work. The Asylum was an institution attached to the hospital for the rehabilitation of ‘fallen’ women, helping them to develop their skills and find ‘respectable’ work after their treatment.

Give yourself three hours to unlock your imagination and intuition and discover the stories of so-called ‘fallen’ women like Johanna. This three-hour masterclass is available exclusively to women both online and in-centre with social distancing, so you can enjoy this experience while feeling confident about your own health and safety.  Find out more on our website.