Kew Lunatic Asylum

02 January, 2011

Front facade of Kew Asylum building, now private residences.
Front facade of Kew Asylum building, now private residences.
Image: Meg Lomax
Source: Meg Lomax

Question: I am doing historical research in the Kyneton Cemetery. I have come across the grave of W.A. Ansley, dated December 27, 1902. The headstone was put in place by the staff at the Kew Asylum. W.A. Ansley was listed as a clerk in the burial register. Is there any way to get any further information about him, specifically to confirm whether he was staff or a patient?

Answer: Patient records for Kew Asylum are held by the Public Record Office of Victoria (PROV) – a selection have been digitised and can be viewed online. Have a browse of their finding aid PROVguide 58 Education, Health and Welfare – Mental Health Records.

What is available online from PROV is only a small percentage of their holdings – they do hold more records on staff and patients at Kew Asylum, and as a state institution, PROV is where all extant records are held, so it may be a case of you visiting PROV in person and ordering records to look at in the reading room there.

They do have an archivist on duty most days of the week, either between 10:00am and 12:00pm, or 1:30pm to 3:30pm, but you can call and check first when they are available for consultation.

Comments (6)

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Stuart Pattison. 30 September, 2012 16:15
I love these old asylums, the great architecture and the ambience and ethos of a time long gone. I've visited many old asylums it's a great hobby of mine. I'm planning a trip to Melbourne next year, and i will be visiting Kew, even though it is now ' residential apartments ' but nevertheless i should get some good photos, And i've deafeningly got to see the Ha- ha walls (never seen them before as every asylum i've visited has never had Ha- ha walls ).
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Margaret Frater 9 July, 2013 17:04
Question: I am told my grandfather, who died before I was born, was a staff member at Kew Asslyum. He died on 18 Sept 1917 aged approx 39. can you tell me if there are any records I could access?
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Verena Valentinus 29 May, 2014 16:47
Would love to be able to visit this building with my crew. What number do I ring to get approval? Cheers
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Discovery Centre 8 July, 2014 12:49

Hi Verena,

The Kew Asylum building is now a private residential complex, however the building is accessible by public road: Willsmere Road, Kew. You can only access the facade though, it is a gated community and access to the grounds of the building is only via prior approval from the Body Corporate - their details can be found at the front entrance of the administration block, however requests are assessed on a case-by-case basis by the residents committee.

Carol 12 June, 2014 18:05
My Grandfather William Patrick Shields death certificate lists Kew Asylum as his place of death in 1960-age 68. He was sentenced to Pentridge for 8 years in 1948. I would like to know what year, and for what reason he was sent to Kew.
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Discovery Centre 7 August, 2014 15:26

Hi Carol,

As a government-run institution, any extant records relating to admissions and discharges would be held by the Public Record Office of Victoria - you should get in touch with them for help looking for any documents relating to your grandfather's time at Kew.