Welcome to our website on the Devon County Lunatic Asylum (DCLA)!

This website takes you on a fascinating journey through the history of the Devon County Lunatic Asylum at Exminster. Based on archival case notes and supplemented by Medical Superintendents’ and Commissioners of Lunacy’s reports as well as interviews with former staff, we tell the stories of real patients and their journey into, and life within, the asylum, hoping to highlight changes in the legislation and care of people suffering from mental health problems.

The Setting

Get started by exploring the asylum’s history from 1845 to 1986.

Case Studies

Take note of the four case studies where we tell the fascinating stories of patients hospitalised in the DCLA during the 19th and 20th centuries. These have been supplemented with audio and video clips based on surviving hospital documentation and interviews with former staff.


If you would like to contribute your own experiences with the DCLA, please visit our ‘Memories‘ section, where we invite you to submit your pictures and stories.