Bethlem Royal Hospital

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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 ?
The author offers an articulate summary of the contested place of Bethlem Hospital in Renaissance England, and of the contested concept of "charity" in a Protestant society.
According to Foucault, the containment and display of madmen in Bethlem Hospital mark an unfortunate shift toward the Great Confinement, in which the mad are no longer allowed to wander freely and "easily" as they did in the Middle Ages.
The troubling use of Bethlem Hospital as a backdrop in the harmonic closing scene of this and other Renaissance comedies makes sudden and perfect sense in light of Jackson's charitable view of the institution.
Surviving records about Bethlem hospital support the short-term nature of treatment but do not provide clear evidence of compassion.
The paintings are loaned out by the Royal Bethlem Hospital in Beckenham, south London.
Dunbar received his medical degree in 1972 from London University, with honors in Pharmacology, and completed internships at Guys Hospital Group, Princess Alexandra Hospital and Maudsley & Bethlem Hospital, all in the U.
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.
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.
This entry, read closely, seems unlikely to refer to Bethlem Hospital at all" (200-201).