Caroline Caldicott was the second daughter born to Joseph Caldicott and Caroline Connop. Caroline was born in 1838 in Coventry and was younger sister to Joseph and Caroline’s first child, Emma.
By the age of 23 Caroline had become a silk ribbon weaver like her sister, Emma. Ribbon and silk weaving was a huge industry in Coventry, Cash’s being one of the most notorious family firms. The Caldicotts of Coventry were also a ribbon manufacturing family and it is likely that Caroline worked for the family company.
Caroline remained a spinster all her life. After her father’s death in 1870 she continued to live with her mother Caroline. When her mother died in 1895, when Caroline was 57, she went to live with her youngest brother, William Alfred and his wife, Louisa Poeton, her place of residence listed in the 1901 Census.
However, on 27th March 1909, Caroline was admitted to Hatton Lunatic Asylum located just outside Warwick, at the age of 71. She died there just a few months later on 14th September 1909.
Often the elderly were taken into asylums as a slightly more preferable alternative to the workhouse, if they were unable to look after themselves.
Whilst this may seem like a harsh place to end your days, Hatton was regarded as one of the more forward thinking in mental health care.
It opened in 1852 and was originally known as Warwick County Lunatic Asylum. Dr John Conolly supervised the opening and the first patients to arrive were treated under his regime of “moral therapy” modelled by “The Retreat” based in York. This method of treatment centred around work for the patients and leisure pastimes instead of the use of restraint seen at asylums like Bethlem Hospital, the renowned “Bedlam”.
It is likely due to her age and her death following shortly after her admission to Hatton that Caroline was suffering from dementia and may have required a more specialist care than her brother and sister-in-law were able to provide for her. It is said that many of the elderly patients of Hatton were cared for by the younger long term patients of the asylum as part of the “work” aspect of their therapy. An interesting social example of care for the elderly.