25 Portraits of Patients and Living Conditions at London’s Notorious Bethlem Royal Hospital

Esther Hannah Still (right), also arrived at the hospital in 1858 and was diagnosed with chronic mania and delusions. Daily Mail
John Bailey and his son Thomas (pictured together, left) were both admitted in 1858 with acute melancholia. Daily Mail
A treatment, invented by Erasmus Darwin (pictured) called rotational therapy, involved putting a patient in a chair before spinning them around. Daily Mail
Edward Oxford was the first of eight people who tried to kill Queen Victoria in 1840. He was armed with a gun and fired twice – both missed both times. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to Bedlam. Daily Mail
Elizabeth Thew was admitted to Bedlam after committing infanticide. Museum Of The Mind
An outdoor tutorial for nurses in the ground of the Bethlem Royal Hospital. The South London and Maudsley NHS Trust
Bedlam was so horrific that it would routinely refuse admission to patients deemed too frail to handle the course of their therapies. BBC.
The most notorious aspect of Bedlam was its availability to the public. It was expected that friends and family would drop in on patients, but for many years, Bedlam was run like a zoo, where wealthy patrons could drop a shilling or two to roam the fetid hallways. These visits were so frequent that they made up a significant portion of the hospital’s operating budget. Wellcome Library
An image of a chained prisoner of Bedlam. Pinterest
Bedlam, as depicted in William Hogarth’s series, The Rake’s Progress. Wikimedia
In 1402, St. Mary of Bethlehem, an asylum popularly known as Bedlam, opened to receive mental patients in England. The institution itself was founded in 1247 as a priory. The famous painting of Bedlam is by William Hogarth, 1735. Pinterest
A painting of wealthy Londoners visiting the Bedlam Hospital. The failed policy hoped to see family members visit their relatives, but it turned Bedlam into a human zoo. Wikimedia Commons