Bedlam Amanda Nelson Bryan Raymond
BEDLAM Definition: - A scene of mad confusion or uproar - Madness, lunacy Etymology: - derived ultimately from Bedlam, a corruption of “Bethlem’ and ‘Bethlehem’, in the name of the ‘Hospital of St Mary of Bethlehem’ - for much of its history, the hospital/asylum was notorious for cruelty and inhumane treatment.
Bethlem Royal Hospital Europe’s oldest mental hospital
GENERAL CHRONOLOGY 1247 – Opened in Bishopsgate as a priory for the sisters and brethren of the Order of the Star of Bethlehem 1330-1407 - Gradually evolved into an official insane asylum 1450 – by this year, it was being called Bedlam (taken from Bethlehem, also shortened to Bethlem) Early 1500’s – 31 patients shared a space built for 24 1529 - George Boleyn, brother of Queen Anne Boleyn, appointed master. 1666 - The fire of London spares Bethlem Hospital 1675 – Hospital moved from its original location to Moorsfield 1693 - A nurse to be hired "as an experiment." 1700 - An out-patient department instituted. The word "patient“ henceforth used to describe the inmates. 1725-1734 – ‘curable’ and ‘incurable’ wardsopened, wards for male and female incurable patients constructed. 1815 – Bedlam moved to St George’s Field, Southwark 1816 - Criminal blocks completed and occupied. 1844 - First padded rooms constructed 1930 – Hospital came to reside in its current location, at Beckham in the London borough of Bromley
Layout of 1st Bedlam location Picture of 2nd Bedlam location
Two stone figures, carved by Caius Gabriel Cibber, from the gates of the seventeenth century hospital. These are known as “Raving” and “Melancholy” madness, meant to represent the two ways in which insanity was chiefly classified at this time.
Chronology of Investigations of Poor Management & Mistreatment 1437 - Commission to the mayor and aldermen to inquire into abuses at the hospital. 1598 - committee of inspection found that during the period of Sleford's keepership the hospital buildings had fallen into a deplorable condition with the roof caving in, the kitchen sink blocked up and reported that“...it is not fitt for anye man to dwell in wch was left by the Keeper for that it is so loathsomlyfilthely kept not fitt for anye man to come into the saydhowse” 1632 and 1633 - Royal commissioners investigate scandals in the hospital. 1699 - Report of Bethlem committee on the discreditable appearance of the wards on public holidays. 1815 and 1816 - Parliamentary inquiries into the treatment of patients. 1815 - report to the House of Commons. Dr. Connoly reported that he found in one of the side-rooms; "about ten patients each chained by one arm or leg to the wall, each wearing a sort of dressing gown with nothing to fasten it. 1851 (June 28) - Visit of lunacy commissioners to inquire into allegations against the treatment of certain patients by their nurses.
Critiques of Bethlem Hospital - “John Howard, the prison reformer, had visited Bethlem during his investigation of European hospitals and asylums and passed a dismal verdict. He was disturbed by the lack of suitable classification for the patients, and particularly the absence of physical separation of the ‘calm and quiet’ from ‘the noisy and turbulent’, regarding its Moorsfield location, the 2nd location of Bethlem Hospital - From History of Bethlem, by Andrews Jonatha - The historian Roy Porter called the Bethlem Hospital "a symbol for man's inhumanity to man, for callousness and cruelty” - William Battie, physician for and founder of St Luke's asylum, published the Treatise of Madness (1758) , an optimistic view of the treatability of insanity, by management – rather than the ineffective and brutal purges, vomits and blood-letting then regularly practiced at Bethlem. `Madness is frequently taken for one species of disorder, nevertheless, when thoroughly examined, it discovers as much variety with respect to its causes and circumstances as any distemper whatever: Madness, therefore, like most other morbid cases, rejects all general methods, e.g. bleeding, blisters, caustics, rough cathartics, the gumms and faetid anti-hysterics, opium, mineral waters, cold bathing and vomits.' John Monro physician and specialist in insanity at the Bethlem Hospital, responded quickly to the Treatise; `Notwithstanding we are told in this treatise, that madness rejects all general methods, I will venture to say, that the most adequate and constant cure of it is by evacuation; which can alone be determined by the constitution of the patient and the judgment of the physician. The evacuation by vomiting is infinitely preferable to any other, if repeated experience is to be depended on...'
Notorious Employees of Bedlam • Thomas Monro • Bethlem physician around 1815 • Considered an absentee physician (stated to show up maybe one in a three-month time span) • In June 1816 resigned as a result of the scandal, when he was accused of ‘wanting in humanity’ towards his patients • Dr. Hilkiah Crooke • - appointed master in 1619 • Rarely attended to the hospital • Embezzled hospital resources • Typically he and his steward either took the goods and foodstuffs that was donated and purchased by the hospital for the inmates for his own use, or sold it to the inmates. (If they didn’t have the funds to buy, they would often go hungry.) • Stated he cured 17 ‘lunatics’ • He was dismissed in 1633 • Bryan Crowther • - Surgeon • Stated that for ‘10 years he had been generally insane and mostly drunk’ Peter the Porter 1403 – charged with stealing 33 coverlets, 34 blankets, 25 sheets, 6 mattresses, 5 brass pans, 1 axe and 1 spade, 3 shovels, 1 pair of tongs, 8 platters, 8 wooden dishes, 2 trivets, 4 tubs, and more • Unnamed Accountant and Treasurer • 1835 – Accountant defrauded the hospital of over 10,ooo pounds sterling, Shortly followed the accountant, defrauding it of over 14,000 pounds sterling
Famous patients of Bedlam Urban Metcalf – ex-patient who published, in 1818, a pamphlet which exposed both bullying and pilfering at Bethlem Hospital James Morris – was immobilised for 12 years, with “a stout iron ring ..riveted round his neck, from which a short chain passed through a ring made to slide upwards and downwards on an upright massive iron bar, more than six feet high, inserted into the wall. Round his body a strong iron bar about mo inches wide was riveted; on each side of the bar was a circular projection; which being fashioned to and enclosing each of his arms, pinioned them close to his sides. Margaret Nicholson and James Hadfield – locked up in Bethlem after attempting regicide People who spoke out against the ‘crown’, such as Lady Eleanor Davies and Richard Stafford The playwright Nathaniel Lee was incarcerated there for five years, reporting that: "They called me mad, and I called them mad, and damn them, they outvoted me." Mary Frith, a “a notorious pickpocket and fence of the English underworld.”
NOW IT’S TIME TO PLAY A GAME!!!! We need: Three Volunteers who like to act (who won’t be too shy in front of the class) Don’t worry! This won’t hurt! ….probably……
BEDLAM in Mackenzie’s The Man of Feeling “Of those things called Sights in London, which every stranger is supposed desirous to see, Bedlam is one.” (66) Harley – “I think it an inhuman practice to expose the greatest misery with which our nature is afflicted, to every idle visitant who can afford a trifling perquisite to the keeper”
Bedlam as a Tourist Attraction - In the 18th century people used to go to Bedlam to stare at the lunatics. For a penny one could peer into their cells, view the freaks of the "show of Bethlehem" and laugh at their antics. Entry was free on the first Tuesday of the month. In the 17th century and into the 18th, it is claimed that there were 96,000 such visits per year. - this asylum became a kind of sideshow for sadist viewers in the 18th century. The public were invited to watch the victims paraded in cages and were even allowed to poke them with sticks. - “…these miseries were made the materials for actual profit to the hospital: a sum of about 400l. being annually collected by exhibiting these poor maniacs, chiefly naked, and uniformly chained to the walls of their dungeons, and by exciting them to the most violent manifestations of their maladies.” - The Pictorial Handbook of London, 1854 - One criticism of Bedlam at this time was that it allowed paying visitors to observe the lunatics and despite the banning of this practice at St. Luke's, Monro didn't restrict it until 1770.
Bedlam’s effect on Literary/Art Culture A characteristic feature…occurring in several Jacobean and Caroline plays, is the inclusion of a scene set in “Bedlam”. The first quarter of the seventeenth century was a period in which playwrights seem first to have discovered Bethlem as a ‘dramatic resource’. The Honest Whore, Part 1 (1604) and Northward Ho (1607) – Thomas Dekker/John Webster The Duchess of Malfi (1612) – John Webster The Pilgrim (1621) – John Fletcher The Changeling (1622) – Thomas Middleton/William Rowley The gravedigger in Shakespeare's Hamlet spoke of sending the Prince of Denmark to England, where his madness would not be noticed. Edgar in King Lear disguises himself as mad "Tom O'Bedlam" A Rake's Progress is a series of eight paintings by 18th century English artist William Hogarth. The Rakes Progress shows the decline of Tom Rakewell, the spendthrift son and heir of a rich merchant, who comes to London, wastes all of his money on luxurious living, and as a consequence is imprisoned in the Fleet Prison, resulting in him going mad and ending up in Bethlem Hospital.
Tom O’Bedlam The term "Tom O' Bedlam" was used in Early Modern Britain and later to describe beggars and vagrants who had or feigned mental illness . They claimed, or were assumed, to have been former inmates at the Bethlem Royal Hospital. It was commonly thought that inmates were released with authority to make their way by begging. ‘Bedlam Ballads’ usually featured a character called ‘Tom’ or ‘Bess/Maudlin of Bedlam’. They told the ex-Bedlamite’s tale of suffering in order to solicit alms. "Tom O' Bedlam" is the name of an anonymous poem written circa 1600 about a Bedlamite. Here are the first 5 stanzas of the poem: 3 - While I doe sing "any foode, any feeding, Feedinge, drinke or clothing," Come dame or maid, be not afraid, Poor Tom will injure nothing. 4 - Of thirty bare years have I Twice twenty been enraged, And of forty been three times fifteen In durance soundly caged. 5 - On the lordly lofts of Bedlam, With stubble soft and dainty, Brave bracelets strong, sweet whips ding-dong, With wholesome hunger plenty. 1 - From the hagg and hungrie goblin That into raggs would rend ye, And the spirit that stands by the naked man In the Book of Moones - defend ye! 2 - That of your five sound senses You never be forsaken, Nor wander from your selves with Tom Abroad to beg your bacon.
Excerpts from Bedlam: A Poem by G. Fitzgerald Far other Views than these within appear, And Woe and Horror dwell forever here; For ever from the echoing Roofs rebounds A dreadful Din of heterogeneous Sounds: From this, from that, from ev’ry Quarter rife, Loud Shouts, and fullen Groans, and doleful Cries: Heart softening Plaints demand the pitying Tear, And Peals of hideous Laughter shock the Ear. So mourns th’Imprison’d Lark his hapless Fate, In Love’s soft Season ravish’d from his Mate, Fondly fatigues his unvailing Rage And hops and flutters round and round his Cage, And moans and droops, with pining Grief opprest, Whilst sweet Complainings warble from his Breast. Rattling his Chains the Wretch all raving lies, And roars and foams and Earth and Heaven defies; Not so when gloomy the black Bile prevails, And lumpish Phlegm the thicken’d Mass congeals: All lifeless then is the poor Patient found, And fits for ever moping on the Ground. See from himself the sordid Niggard steals, Reserves large Scantlings from his slender Meals; Scarce to his Bowels half their due affords, |And starves his Carcase to increase his Hoards, ‘Till to huge Heaps the treasur’dOffals swell, And stink in every Corner of his Cell: And there with wondrous Wisdom he purveys, Against contingent Want and rainy Days, And scorns the Fools that dread not to be poor, But eat their Morsel and enjoy their Store.
Pop Culture Now Television: Bedlam is a British supernatural drama television series that focuses on an upscale apartment block called “Bedlam Heights” which was renovated from the structure of an abandoned mental asylum and the strange haunting that occur there. Film: Bedlam (1946) is a film inspired by William Hogarth's A Rake's Progress (starring Boris Karloff) Nell Leyshon’s play, Bedlam - Her play was the first play by a woman to be performed at Shakespeare's Globe, in 2010.
Baron Bedlam and Doctor Bedlam from DC Comics Jesse Aaronson aka Bedlam, from Marvel comics Image Comics’ series Bedlam just had its first issue come out Professor Bedlam, played by Eddie Izzard, in the movie My Super Ex-Girlfriend
Let’s Talk! William Cooper described his thoughts on visiting the asylum as a youngster: "The madness of some of them has such a humorous air, and displayed itself in so many whimsical freaks, that it was impossible not to be entertained at the same time that I was angry with myself for being so." As we discussed earlier, people visited the asylum as a form of entertainment. Why do you think that our culture is so intrigued by other people’s insanity and suffering? Are mental asylums justified in generating this sort of fear? Or do people exaggerate their fears of the unknown?