Bethlem Royal Hospital

(redirected from Bethlem Hospital)
Also found in: Encyclopedia.

Bethlem Royal Hospital

The world’s first institution for the insane (popularly known as Bedlam), Bethlem began in 1247 as a priory for the Order of the Star of Bethlehem, from whence its name. It became a hospital in 1337 and began admitting the mentally ill in 1357; some time thereafter, due to dialectic, its name became known as Bedlam.

Bedlam was notorious for the brutal treatment of its inmates; treatment consisted of restraint well into the 19th century. Outpatients were allowed to come and go and licensed to beg; particularly active inpatients were kept from wandering the halls by manacling or chaining them to the floors or walls. They were first dignified with the label of patient in 1700 and parsed into curable and incurable wards in the 1730s; they also provided a source of entertainment for the locals—for a penny, one could go to Bedlam and stare at the patients.

In 1815, Bedlam was moved into more substantial facilities at St George’s Fields, complete with a library, ballroom and windows. It was moved again in 1930 to a London suburb, with the Imperial War Museum taking over the St George’s Fields site.
References in periodicals archive ?
This is two hundred years after the institution of Bethlem hospital and, at this point, we see the use of physical restraint and public and corporal punishment on someone who was unwell but who has committed an 'offence' in a church, which may have had some bearing on the punishment.
Guided to safety by a mediaeval version of the bright star over Bethlehem, he returned from the Holy Land and founded the first Bethlem Hospital in 1247.
What makes Ken Jackson's study of Bethlem Hospital and Bedlam dramas particularly convincing is his own experience as a health professional in various mental institutions.
The author argues that the main source of this belief is the Bedlamites that first appear "in five Jacobean plays" (167) that present spectators visiting Bethlem Hospital, or using asylums for the insane, for amusement.
Especially persistent has been the belief that Bethlem hospital was regularly visited by spectators for amusement.
The paintings are loaned out by the Royal Bethlem Hospital in Beckenham, south London.
[2] For information on Bethlem Hospital and its cultural significance in the period see Pat Rogers, Hacks and Dunces: Pope, Swift and Grub Street (London: Methuen, 1980), especially pp.
Bowen, An Historical Account of the Origin, Progress and Present State of Bethlem Hospital (London, 1783); Michel Foucault, La Folie et la Deraison: Histoire de la Folie a l'Age Classique (Librairie Plon, 1961); abridged as Madness and Civilisation: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason, translated by Richard Howard (Random House, 1965 and Tavistock Publications, 1967); Natsu Hattori, `"The Pleasure of your Bedlam": The Theatre of Madness in the Renaissance', History of Psychiatry, vi (1995); A.
This marginalization of the raving figure was well established by 1735, when William Hogarth's last scene of The Rake's Progress, the "Rake in Bedlam," set the rake's death on the male ward of Bethlem Hospital. Only three of the inmates display vestigial traces of the seminude, raving type of lunacy: the urinating king and the writhing religious fanatic, in cells along the background wall, and the rake in the foreground.
Jonathan Andrews joins in this revisionist assault, arguing that the physicians of Bethlem Hospital for lunatics - long the standard example of a custodial institution mired in traditionalism - were "not always so far behind contemporary therapeutics as historians have been led to believe" (p.
The site was London's first municipal graveyard and was right next to Bethlem Hospital.