To Langdon Down Centre and Museum of Learning Disability

A visit to Langdon Down Centre and Museum of Learning Disability, where Francesca discovers a giant carnival figure created by one of the residents, James Henry Pullen.

giant wooden toy soldier with long nose

It was such a fascinating place to visit. Three things struck me:

  1. The similarity in the founding of the original Earlswood Asylum
  2. The beauty and quality of the theatre
  3. The fascinating displays

The Giant made c 1870s

Wood, metal, paper

The Giant is a fantastic carnival figure nearly fifteen feet high.  Pullen made him to amuse the children and he was taken out each fete day until WW2.

He has a hollow body: a small person can stand inside and operate levers which cause his eyes to open, his tongue to protrude, his mouth to open, his ears to waggle and his arms to move up and down.  His head revolves and he used to make a roaring noise!

Pullen originally saw a model of a Prussian soldier at an exhibition which inspired him to create his giant.

The museum houses a great deal of Pullen’s other work.  He was a master at carving, producing intricate inlay pieces and models of boats.  The Earlswood Asylum provided Pullen with a workshop and the wherewithal to produce all these wonderful things.  Edward VII took great interest in him, as did other notable figures of the day.

Thanks to Ian Jones-Healey, Archivist at the Museum, for his time.

We look forward to uncovering more stories like this one.

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