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Dig it! Hidden treasure found at Priory mental health hospital

When mental health hospital Suttons Manor in Stapleford Tawney, Romford, introduced metal detecting as part of its therapy programme, it had no idea what it might unearth.

But led by Keith Chester, Senior Occupational Therapist, and Tommy Lee, Activities Coordinator, the activity has created considerable excitement amongst the patients, with many of them finding hidden “treasure”.

Lewys Savill, director of the hospital, which is part of the Priory Group, the mental healthcare specialists, says: “Our claim to fame is a 1797 cartwheel penny found by one of our patients and a King George III penny. Numerous early 1970s pennies and early 1900s coins have been found too. We've even found an early 1970’s matchbox double decker bus!”

The cartwheel penny was the first copper penny to be circulated in Britain, designed to combat counterfeiting. It is 8 times heavier than today’s 1p and 2p coins - the 1 pence weighed 1oz and the 2 pence weighed 2oz – the same weight as a Mars Bar and almost 8 times heavier than the current 1p and 2p coins.

The coins weighed so much because they were struck in pure copper and their intrinsic value corresponded to their actual face value. Their design was simple – a portrait of the monarch at the time, King George III on the obverse and Britannia on the reverse.

The dramatic size of these coins and their unusually wide raised rim is why they became known as ‘cartwheel’ pennies.

The metal detecting activity provides an ideal way for patients to enjoy outdoor exercise and engage in a social activity. A patient explains: “I like metal detecting in the fresh air plus there is a buzz when anyone finds anything unusual.” Another patient added: “I enjoy doing the metal detecting group. It is very exciting and you never know what you will find.”

Suttons Manor is a rehabilitation and specialist treatment service for males who are over the age of 50. Rated as ‘good’ by the Care Quality Commission, the health and social care inspectorate, its aim is to help patients rebuild confidence, self-esteem and hopes for the future. It keeps patients involved with the community, their family, and carers whenever possible.

Care is provided over two 13-bedded wards for those who also have a mental health/personality disorder and/or dementia and are in need of physical health care needs.



Photographs attached

  1. Numerous finds
  2. The coin on its own is the cartwheel penny.
  3. Activities coordinator Tommy Lee uncovering a find with the patients.

About Priory Group

The Priory Group is the leading provider of behavioural care in the UK, caring for around 30,000 people a year for conditions including depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol addiction, eating disorders and self-harming. The Group is organised into three divisions – healthcare, education and children’s services, and adult care. The Priory Group is owned by NASDAQ-listed Acadia Healthcare, which is recognised as a global leader in behavioural health.







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