Bedlam: London's Hospital for the Mad

Front Cover
Ian Allan, 2009 - History - 288 pages
2 Reviews
Bethlem Hospital is the oldest mental institution in the world, but to many it is famous only as 'Bedlam', a chaotic madhouse which brutalised its patients. Although for much of Bedlam's history such abuse was rare, during the dynastic control of the Munro family - between 1728 and 1855 - a brutal medical programme was implemented, giving Bedlam an unsavoury reputation as one of Europe's most notorious psychiatric hospitals.
Using new and detailed research, historian Dr. Paul Chambers brings together a coherent overview of the hospital's 800-year-old history - from Bethlem's well-intended beginnings in Bishopgate to its final disgrace and reform in Southwark. Focusing on the 'Munro era' - and structured around a fascinating account of the Munro dynasty - Chambers explores key elements of the hospital's history. Revealed are fascinating details of its ambivalent relationship with London and Londoners, the life and times of the hospital's more infamous patients: political dissenters, religious maniacs, murderers and female transvestites and finally the rise of a powerful reform movement which forced the government to take the issue of Bedlam seriously.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

Review: Bedlam: London's Hospital for the Mad

User Review  - Suzanne - Goodreads

Interesting, but less about the patients' lives and more about the shameful politics that led to the deplorable conditions for which this institution is famous. Read full review

Review: Bedlam: London's Hospital for the Mad

User Review  - madsenmel - Goodreads

Really interesting...I had no idea Bedlam had been an institution since the 1400s! This is not only a history of the hospital, but also a mini history of the field of psychiatry and prevailing views of the insane. I loved it! Read full review


Humble Beginnings
The New Bedlam
Dr Hale and Mrs Clerke

13 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2009)

Paul Chambers is the author of eleven books on subjects as diverse as dinosaurs, the giant tortoise, and London's Bedlam Hospital. He holds degrees in geology and paleontology, is a former television producer, and lives in Hertfordshire, southern England.

Bibliographic information