The Friends of Horton Cemetery is a charitable organisation whose goal is to bring dignity and respect to the memory of the many tens of thousands of mental health patients, including war heroes, who died within the Epsom Cluster of asylums.
Of those who died in these hospitals while they were in operation, 9,000 remain buried on a neglected piece of land in Surrey, England, their graves may now be unmarked but they are not forgotten.
1500 ceramic flowers, painted by the public, were unveiled at The Horton Arts Centre, in Epsom on World Mental Health Day (10 October 2023).
Thank you to the Surrey History Centre, and in particular Julian Pooley, for allowing us access to your archives. Your collection has been an invaluable resource for our research, and we are grateful for your assistance. The majority of our images and information have come from your archives, and we are confident that our project would not have been possible without your help.
Show me the manner in which a nation cares for its dead and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender mercies of its people, their respect for the laws of the land, and their loyalty to high ideals.Sir William Gladstone
Between 1899 and 1955, 9000 people were buried in Horton Cemetery, which is now a neglected and inaccessible area of land in Epsom in Surrey, England. Each one had been a patient at one of the five mental health hospitals which made up the Epsom Cluster.
Volunteer researchers are writing the life histories of the 9000 individuals –their stories- bringing them back, one by one, into modern memory. Each story is unique, often highlighting the plight of those afflicted with mental illness in the early 20th century.
In time, the charity’s vision is to reclaim the derelict cemetery and transform it into a beautiful, calming garden-arboretum. There we will create a fitting memorial to all of the patients, each of whom forms part of the history of Epsom.