In 1868 John Langdon Down set up his own private home for the "Mentally Subnormal" at Normansfield in Kingston to supply a need for residential training and care for the disabled of the upper classes. Langdon Down identified a specific group of patients whose oriental characteristics he described as Mongolian in character. Nobody had identified this special group and over the next 20 years the designation "Mongolian Idiot" or ‘Imbecile of the Mongoloid type’ came into use.
Langdon Down died on October 7th 1896. Mary Langdon Down died in 1901 their ashes were placed together on the stage of the adjoining theatre for their final funeral service.
The theatre, which they built, is today a listed building and has been fully restored by The Langdon Down Trust. Normansfield was closed in 1997; the main hospital remains and was due to be turned into a hotel, while the rest of the site was redeveloped for housing.
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