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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the early years of Europe's oldest psychiatric hospital, which opened as St Mary of Bethlehem outside Bishopsgate and soon became known as Bedlam.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the early years of Bedlam, the name commonly used for the London hospital of St Mary of Bethlehem outside Bishopsgate, described in 1450 by the Lord Mayor of London as a place where may "be found many men that be fallen out of their wit. And full honestly they be kept in that place; and some be restored onto their wit and health again. And some be abiding therein for ever." As Bethlem, or Bedlam, it became a tourist attraction in the 17th Century at its new site in Moorfields and, for its relatively small size, made a significant impression on public attitudes to mental illness. The illustration, above, is from the eighth and final part of Hogarth's 'A Rake's Progress' (1732-3), where Bedlam is the last stage in the decline and fall of a young spendthrift,Tom Rakewell.


Hilary Marland
Professor of History at the University of Warwick

Justin Champion
Professor of the History of Early Modern Ideas at Royal Holloway, University of London and President of the Historical Association


Jonathan Andrews
Reader in the History of Psychiatry at Newcastle University

Producer: Simon Tillotson.

Available now

47 minutes

Last on

Thu 17 Mar 2016 21:30


Justin Champion at Royal Holloway, University of London

Hilary Marland at the University of Warwick

Jonathan Andrews at Newcastle University

‘Bedlam revisited: A history of Bethlem hospital 1634-1770’ by Jonathan Andrews (1991)

Bethlem: Museum of the Mind

Visiting Bethlem in the Long Eighteenth Century

The Casebooks Project - A digital edition of Simon Forman’s & Richard Napier’s medical records 1596–1634

Bedlam Burial Ground Register

‘The Lost Hospitals of London: Bethlem Hospital - Worth a Visit?’ by Colin S. Gale – Gresham College lectures

Bedlam: “A madhouse by any other name is still a jail!” - The History of Psychiatry

Bethlem Royal Hospital – Wikipedia



Jonathan Andrews, Asa Briggs, Roy Porter, Penny Tucker, Keir Waddington, The History of Bethlem (Routledge, 1997)

Jonathan Andrews with Andrew Scull, Undertaker of the Mind: Dr John Monro and Mad-doctoring in Eighteenth-century England (University of California Press, 2001)

Jonathan Andrews with Andrew Scull, Customers and Patrons of the Mad Trade. The Management of Lunacy in Eighteenth-Century London (University of California Press, 2003)

Catharine Arnold, Bedlam: London and its Mad (Simon & Schuster, 2010)

Jonathan Barry and Colin Jones (eds.), Medicine and Charity Before the Welfare State (Routledge, 1991)

William Battie (eds. Richard Hunter and Ida Macalpine), A Treatise on Madness (first published 1758; Dawsons, 1962)

W. F. Bynum, Roy Porter and Michale Shepherd (eds.), The Anatomy of Madness: Essays in the History of Psychiatry, Volume II (Tavistock, 1985)

Leonie de Goei and Joost Vijselaar (eds.), Proceedings of the 1st European Congress on the History of Psychiatry and Mental Health Care (Erasmus Publishing, 1993)

John Haslam (ed. Roy Porter) Illustrations of Madness (first published 1810; Tavistock/Routledge, 1988)

Ken Jackson, Separate Theaters: Bethlem ("Bedlam") Hospital and the Shakespearean Stage (University of Delaware Press, 2005)

Mike Jay, The Air Loom Gang: The Strange and True Story of James Tilly Matthews and his Visionary Madness (Bantam, 2003)

Anthony Masters, Bedlam (Michael Joseph, 1977)

John Monro (eds. Richard Hunter and Ida Macalpine), Remarks on Dr. Battie’s Treatise on Madness (first published 1758; Dawsons, 1962)

Carol T. Neely, Distracted Subjects. Madness and Gender in Shakespeare and Early Modern Culture (Cornell University Press, 2004)

J. Plumb, Bedlam in the Light of History (Allen Lane, 1972)

Roy Porter, Mind-Forg’d Manacles: A History of Madness in England from the Restoration to the Regency (Penguin, 1990)

Roy Porter (ed.), Medicine and the Enlightenment (Rodopi, 1995)

Roy Porter, Madness. A brief History (Oxford, 2002)

Roy Porter, Madmen: A Social History of Madhouses, Mad-doctors & Lunatics (Tempus, 2006)

Robert R. Reed, Bedlam on the Jacobean Stage (Harvard University Press, 1952)

Andrew T. Scull, The Most Solitary of Afflictions. Madness and Society in Britain, 1700-1900 (Yale University Press, 1993)

W. Sheils (ed.), The Church and Healing (Blackwell, 1982)

Leonard D. Smith, Lunatic Hospitals in Georgian England, 1750–1830 (Routledge, 2007)

Christine Stevenson, Medicine and Magnificence: British Hospital and Asylum Architecture, 1660-1815 (Yale University Press, 2000)

Charles Webster (ed.), Health, Medicine and Mortality in the Sixteenth Century (Cambridge University Press, 1979)


Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Hilary Marland
Interviewed Guest Justin Champion
Interviewed Guest Jonathan Andrews
Producer Simon Tillotson


  • Thu 17 Mar 2016 09:00
  • Thu 17 Mar 2016 21:30

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