BETHLEM ROYAL HOSPITAL
I would recommend the tour led by an artist once a patient there himself. He is a friendly laid back chap, with many a tale to tell.
He walked us through the grounds known as, The Monks Orchard estates, which are vast; and at one time had lakes in the grounds. Unfortunately, they were covered up, as it was considered too dangerous for the in patients, thought to be at risk from falling in or jumping in if left alone.
For some time I have been meaning to go on this historical walk, at the Bethlem Royal Hospital. I have a fascination with the history of psychology and cures and I’m deeply interested in the history of medicine, especially herbal and nutritional,
The guided tour /walk was educational. A slow meander around the grounds, with many tales of the historical background.
Plants as medicine
A place where diverse nature exists, plant such as Dog Rose, St John’s Wort (said to be useful in aiding depression) Beetles such as Grasshopper, Green Shield Bug, as well as Butterflies such as ” Red Admiral, Peacock, and dragonflies are some of the other inhabitants to be found in the grounds.
Obviously depending on where you live will depend on how easy it is to get there, but the nearest train station is Eden Park and to get to Monks Orchard Road from there is about a ten-minute walk.
Bedlam was the alternative name given to the Asylum for ‘lunatics’ many centuries ago. We use it in jest today, to describe scenes of chaos or riotous behaviour! The hospital is still functioning today.
It was founded in 1247 as The Priory of St Mary of Bethlehem, which lies beneath Liverpool Street Station now. The second site was 1/2 a mile to the west of Moorfields then moved to the Imperial War Museum where a building was designed especially for the hospital and was there until it moved to Beckenham in 1927.
Art at the Bethlem Hospital
Coming up to Christmas some of the residents were displaying artwork to sell, and a workshop was being run while we were there. We were given free mince pies while we waited for the next part of the tour.
Museum of the Mind
The museum showcases the collections in its permanent and temporary exhibition galleries. They also hold a collection of art including works by Louis Wain, who I have always loved but until now was unknown to me that he had been a resident at Bethlem.
Alongside the permanent displays, the museum has a dedicated temporary exhibition space, offering a changing and thought-provoking seasonal programme.
There are plenty of artefacts and interactive media displays in which you can read about patients journeys from madness to cure.
I would thoroughly recommend a visit to the museum of the mind
To book tickets go onto https://www.eventbrite.co.uk
For the rest of the winter, I will be looking for some new walks that I can do in a day.
Until next time keep on, keeping on.