The Knitting Circle is dedicated to Betty, Joyce, Dorothy, Linda, Rosemary, Priti, Nan, Celia and to the thousands of women who survived life in the Asylums. Your lives were not made easy, but you taught me much about the irrepressible human spirit and the art of laughter in amongst the tears.

With deepest thanks to the remarkable storytellers who have accompanied the team on this journey so far, who have gifted their stories to create this piece of work: Mary, Rosie, Carole, Hilary, Premila, Dr Rachel, Derek, Dave, Mike L, Mike J, Rilwan, Stephen, Katharine, Joyce and many others not named here.

Thank you for trusting me with the stories of your lives. I hope I have done you justice.

Mary & friends at Yatton.

'With love to all of you at The Knitting Circle for opening night - from Mary, Rosie and Carole. 'We are coming in a minibus to see our play.'

Arts Council Logo

Rosie Clarke and
Mary Robbins
(Story Contributors)

'We are the bees, the bees make all the honey. We do all the dirty work, the staff take all the money.''

Web Design: Lesley Willis and Julie McNamara            Julie McNamara 2011

'Rosie, Mary & Carole: 'There's no going back now. Every day is like Christmas.'

An Openning Night Card from Carole, Rosie & Mary

Site Map





Julie Mc


Julie Mc Productions logo

Hold the Hearse!

Let Me Stay

The Knitting Circle

I dream, I dare, I do

Disability Film


Mary & friends at Yatton

Click here for the
video of Alan Cliftons' take on the story so far

Rosie Mary and Carole
Rosie Clarke & Mary Robbins
Betty at SEAC, Harperbury Hospital

I once lived and worked in a 2,000 bed long stay hospital, set in beautifully designed grounds with a fabulous sweeping driveway that would put Peyton Place to shame. Built in 1927, it was originally designed as a 'Colony' to house epileptics and people cast out of society for the most spurious reasons. It then became the last port of call for people with learning difficulties. Harperbury hospital and the people who lived and worked there, will remain with me until my dying day.

Thousands of people were forced to survive in these 'bins'. People like you and me. I ran a women's group on the Social Education and Assessment Centre in the mid 80's. The Knitting Circle is written from the stories of that group and from the testimonies of people who survived the asylums.

To view the journey and out of Harperbury's gates, please click HERE for the installation by Caglar Kimyoncu.


dear Betty was always knitting at SEAC, Harperbury hospital 1983

The Story so far