The word ‘Bedlam’, meaning uproar and confusion, is derived from the hospital’s nickname.
Although the hospital became a modern psychiatric facility. Historically it was representative of the worst excesses of asylums in the era of lunacy reform. We came to Bethlem Royal Hospital to find out more. We found little evidence of ‘Bedlam’ in the hospital ground.
Further into the tour, in the museum of the mind, there was much to discover. Firstly we enjoyed a tour around the grounds.
Walking through the grounds of Bethlem Royal Hospital.
A Guided Tour
I’m sure we have all used the term ‘bedlam’ and not really understood its’ origins.
Originally the hospital was near Bishopsgate just outside the walls of the City of London, then it moved outside of Moorfields in the 17th century. It moved to St George’s Fields in Southwark in the 19th century. The final destination involved moving to Monks Orchard in West Wickham in 1930.
The lakes that used to be a feature of the grounds have now been covered up.
It is essential that the patient’s safety is put first. Patients on medication may well wander off. It seems a pity, that they can’t find a way to keep the lakes in a secure way.
Medicine and Nature
A place where diverse nature exists; plants such as; Dog Rose, & St John’s Wort (said to be useful in aiding depression). Beetles such as Grasshopper, Green Shield Bug, can be found as well as rare Butterflies.
Getting to Monks Orchard Road
The nearest train station is Eden Park and to get to Monks Orchard Road where Bethlem Hospital is located, is only a ten-minute walk. Further information below.
In the main entrance of the building in the foyer, you can see the two statues, Melancholy and Mania. The two sides of depression. One is introverted the other is angry and aggressive.
Museum of the Mind
The museum showcases many collections in its permanent and temporary exhibition galleries.
They also hold a collection of art including works by Louis Wain. I have always loved his crazy cats’ drawings. It was interesting to learn he had been a resident at this institute. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Wain
Alongside the permanent displays, the museum has a dedicated temporary exhibition space. It offers a changing and thought-provoking seasonal programme.
There are plenty of artifacts and interactive media displays to get engaged with.
The museum shows the patients’ journey from madness to cure. There has always been an argument about how to deal with patients experiencing mania or suicidal tendencies.
The layout of the Space allows you to reflect on those cures or restraints and lets you decide for yourself.
For further information check out The Museum of the Mind’s website, go on to the link below. I recommend the tour and tickets are only £5 for both the tour of the gardens and the museum.
To book tickets for the Bethlem Hosptial tour online go onto https://www.eventbrite.co.uk
States of Mind Another blog where I investigate the states of mind exhibition at the wellbeing museum, I discover more interesting facts.
Until next time keep on, keeping on.
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