Insane bartender trying to kill Queen Victoria in asylum among 19th century patients

Site of the Bethlem Royal Hospital (known as Beldam) in South London, the notorious institution that first specialized in mental health care in Europe and later inspired the 1946 horror film Bedlam

The Bethlem Royal Hospital was the first dedicated psychiatric facility in Europe. It was founded in 1247 as a priory and was converted to a hospital in the early 14th century.

Most patients in the London institution, better known as Bedlam, were diagnosed with acute mania, and some came after killing people.

The notorious institution, which was the first in Europe to specialize in the treatment of mental illnesses and later inspired the horror film Bedlam from 1946, was founded in 1247 during the reign of Henry III. Founded.

It was founded by Goffredo de Prefetti, who had been elected Bishop of Bethlehem, and was originally located just outside the city walls at what is now Liverpool Street station.

His nickname "Bedlam" came from Londoners who shortened Bethlehem to Bethlem or Bedlem – which in modern spelling became Bedlam.

And because of the hospital's reputation as the main treatment center for the mentally ill, one version of its name – "Bedlam" – generally meant madness and chaos.

Although it is sometimes believed to have treated its patients cruelly, most were free to roam the compound, and the conditions were not much worse than the average home at the time.

In 1674, the governors of the hospital decided that the facility should be moved a few hundred meters west to Moorfields, with the area's open space considered healthier than the original premises.

Bethlem moved to St. George & # 39; s Fields in Southwark in 1815, where the Imperial War Museum is now located.

The last step was taken in 1930 when the hospital was moved to the Bromley suburb. It is operated by the NHS today and is considered the leading psychiatric hospital.

One of the treatments called rotation therapy, invented by Charles' grandfather Erasmus Darwin, was to put a patient on a floating chair and then turn around for a few hours.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, patients were immersed in cold baths, starved and beaten. During this brutal period, a Quaker philanthropist Edward Wakefield visited Bethlem in 1814 and described naked, starved men chained to walls.

A notorious aspect of Bethlem was its availability to the public. Well-to-do patrons often paid a shilling to marvel at the souls trapped in the institution.

The facility had a number of famous patients such as the famous artist Richard Dadd from Chatham, Kent, who was so convinced that his father was the devil he stabbed.

And Margaret Nicholson, who tried to get King George III in 1786. Kill with a desert knife. She was declared insane and sent to Bedlam, where she died.

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