A box can be used for this event instead of a chair. If a chair is used, it is well to have a very sturdy one. This race starts with the players in the same position as in the preceding race, the player on the right hand end of the line sitting... Read more of Chair Sitting Race at Games Kids Play.caInformational Site Network Informational
Home - Rules of an Asylum - Insane British - Curious Punishments

Bethlem Hospital And St Luke's

The chief point of interest in the subject to which this chapter has
reference, centres in the questions where and what was the provision
made for the insane in England at the earliest period in which we can
discover traces or their custody?

Many, I suppose, are familiar with the fact of the original foundation
in 1247 of a Priory in Bishopsgate Street, for the Order of St. Mary of
Bethlem, but few are aware at what period it was used for the care or
confinement of lunatics, and still fewer have any knowledge of the form
of the building of the first Bethlem Hospital--the word "Bethlem" soon
degenerating into Bedlam.

Before entering upon the less known facts, I would observe that an
alderman and sheriff of London, Simon FitzMary, gave in the thirty-first
year of the reign of Henry III., 1247, to the Bishop and Church of
Bethlem, in Holyland, all his houses and grounds in the parish of St.
Botolph without Bishopsgate, that there might be thereupon built a
Hospital or Priory for a prior, canons, brethren, and sisters of the
Order of Bethlem or the Star of Bethlem, wherein the Bishop of Bethlem
was to be entertained when he came to England, and to whose visitation
and correction all the members of the house were subjected.[57]

The following is the wording of the original grant, slightly
abridged:--"To all the children of our Mother holy Church, to whom this
present writing shall come, Simon, the Son of Mary, sendeth greeting in
our Lord, ... having special and singular devotion to the Church of the
glorious Virgin at Bethelem, where the same Virgin brought forth our
Saviour incarnate, and lying in the Cratch,[58] and with her own milk
nourished; and where the same child to us being born, the Chivalry of
the Heavenly Company sange the new hymne, Gloria in excelsis Deo ... a
new Starre going before them. In the Honour and Reverence of the same
child, and his most meek mother, and to the exaltation of my most noble
Lord, Henry King of England, ... and to the manifold increase of this
City of London, in which I was born: and also for the health of my soul,
and the souls of my predecessors and successors, my father, mother and
my friends, I have given, and by this my present Charter, here, have
confirmed to God, and to the Church of St. Mary of Bethelem, all my
Lands which I have in the Parish of St. Buttolph, without Bishopsgate of
London, ... in houses, gardens, pools, ponds, ditches, and pits, and all
their appurtenances as they be closed in by their bounds, which now
extend in length from the King's high street, East, to the great Ditch,
in the West, the which is called Depeditch; and in breadth to the lands
of Ralph Dunnyng, in the North; and to the land of the Church of St.
Buttolph in the South; ... to make there a Priory, and to ordain a Prior
and Canons, brothers and also sisters, who in the same place, the Rule
and Order of the said Church of Bethelem solemnly professing, shall bear
the Token of a Starre openly in their Coapes and Mantles of profession,
and for to say Divine Service there, for the souls aforesaid, and all
Christian souls, and specially to receive there, the Bishop of Bethelem,
Canons, brothers, and messengers of the Church of Bethelem for ever
more, as often as they shall come thither. And that a Church or Oratory
there shall be builded, as soon as our Lord shall enlarge his grace,
under such form, that the Order, institution of Priors, &c. to the
Bishop of Bethelem and his successors shall pertain for evermore.... And
Lord Godfrey, Bishop of Bethelem, into bodily possession, I have
indented and given to his possession all the aforesaid Lands; which
possession he hath received, and entered in form aforesaid.

"And in token of subjection and reverence, the said place in London
shall pay yearly a mark sterling at Easter to the Bishop of Bethelem.

"This gift and confirmation of my Deed, & the putting to of my Seal for
me and mine heirs, I have steadfastly made strong, the year of our Lord
God, 1247, the Wednesday after the Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist."

From this it appears that Simon Fitzmary's land extended from the King's
Highway on the east (Bishopsgate Street without) to the fosse called
Depeditch on the west. The land of Saint Botolph Church bounded it on
the south, and the property of a Ralph Dunnyng on the north. The author
of "The History of St. Botolph" (1824), Mr. T. L. Smartt, suggests that
the old White Hart Tavern is a vestige of the hostelry. If not forming
part of the original hospital, it certainly led to it. Among the tokens
in the British Museum I find "Bedlem Tokens E.{K.}E. at Bedlam Gate,
1657," and the "Reverse at the White Hart." At an early period Bethlem
is styled "Bethlem Prison House," and the patients, "who sometimes
exceeded the number of twenty," are called prisoners. One token at the
British Museum is G.{H.}A. "at the Old Prison."

A considerable portion of this site is occupied at the present day by
Liverpool Street, and the railway stations which have sprung up there.

The topographer in search of the old site finds striking proofs of the
changes which six hundred years have brought with them--the steam, and
the shrill sounds of the Metropolitan, North London, and Great Eastern
Railways; while Bethlem Gate, the entrance to the hospital from
Bishopsgate Street, was, when I last visited the spot, superseded by
hoardings covered with the inevitable advertisement of the paper which
enjoys the largest circulation in the world. Depeditch is now Bloomfield
Street. The name of Ralph Dunnyng, whose property is mentioned in the
charter as bounding Bethlem on the north, is, I suppose, represented,
after the lapse of six centuries, by Dunning's Alley and Place.

There was a churchyard on the property, which was enclosed for the use
of adjoining parishes by Sir Thomas Rowe, Lord Mayor of London, at a
much later period (1569)--no doubt the ground where the inmates were
buried. The Broad Street Railway Station booking-office is situated upon
part of its site. In connection with this, I may refer to a statement in
Mr. Buckland's "Curiosities of Natural History," to the effect that a
skeleton, on which fetters were riveted, was found in 1863, in St. Mary
Axe, by some workmen engaged in excavations. Mr. Buckland states, on the
authority of Mr. Hancock, that Sir Thomas Rowe gave ground in St. Mary
Axe, for the use of Old Bethlem Hospital and certain adjoining parishes.
Mr. Buckland, therefore, concluded that the skeleton was that of a man
who had been a patient in Bedlam, and buried in his chains. He was on
one occasion good enough to place them at my disposal, but as I can find
no evidence that Sir T. Rowe did more than what I have above stated, I
think there is no connection proved between the skeleton in irons and

In this churchyard was buried Lodowick Muggleton--an appropriate
resting-place, considering its proximity to a mad-house. Also John
Lilburne; four thousand persons, it is said, attending his funeral.

Mr. Roach Smith, who formerly lived in Liverpool Street, informs me that
on one occasion an incident proved the former existence of a
burial-ground on this spot. He writes, "Opposite my house (No. 5) on the
other side of the street was a long dead wall, which separated the
street from a long piece of garden-ground which faced some high houses
standing, probably, on the site of Bedlam. This garden may have stood on
the burial-ground. When my man buried in it a deceased favourite cat, he
said he came upon the remains of human skeletons. But revolution brought
about the disturbance of the cat which had disturbed some of old
London's people. A few years since the cat's coffin and her epitaph were
brought before the directors of a railway as a very puzzling discovery."
The engineers of the North London and Great Eastern Railways inform me
that many bones were dug up in excavating for the Broad Street and
Liverpool Street Stations.

The locality of the first Bethlem Hospital is, I hope, now clearly
before the reader. I will describe the form of the buildings shortly,
but will first trace the history of the convent to the time of Henry

In the year 1330, eighty-three years after its foundation, it is
mentioned as a "hospital," in a licence granted by King Edward III., to
collect alms in England, Ireland, and Wales, but it must not be
inferred from this that it was necessarily used for the sick, as the
word hospital was then, and long after, employed as "a place for shelter
or entertainment" (Johnson). It is so employed by Spencer in the "Faerie

"They spy'd a goodly castle plac'd
Foreby a river in a pleasant dale,
Which chusing for that evening's Hospital
They thither march'd."

Very shortly after this, viz. in 1346, the monastery or hospital was so
miserably poor that the master applied to the mayor, aldermen, and
citizens of London to be received under their protection. This was
agreed to, and it was governed afterwards by two aldermen, one chosen by
the mayor and the other by the monastery.

Then we come to an important event--the seizure of Bethlem by the Crown.
This was in 1375, the forty-eighth year of Edward III. It was done on
the pretext that it was an alien or foreign priory. There was not
therefore any seizing of the monastery by Henry VIII., as is usually
stated. That had been done already. The master of Bethlem stated at this
time that the annual value of the house was six marks; and that he paid
13s. 4d. a year to the Bishop of Bethlem, and 40s. rent to the Guildhall
for the benefit of the City. Disputes afterwards arose between the Crown
and the City as to their right to appoint the master of the house, but
the former triumphed, and Richard II., Henry IV., Henry VI., and Henry
VIII. insisted upon and exercised their right of presentation.

It appears that the City had let some house to the hospital for which
they received rent. And further, that afterwards, when disputes arose,
they actually pretended that the hospital itself was originally theirs.

I now call attention to the year 1403, the fourth year of Henry IV. It
seems that Peter, the porter of the house, had misbehaved himself in
some way, and it was deemed sufficiently important to necessitate an
"inquisition," to ascertain the condition and management of the
monastery. And it is here that we meet with the earliest indication of
Bethlem being a receptacle for the insane. I have examined the Report of
this Royal Commission, and find it stated that six men were confined
there who were lunatics (sex homines mente capti). The number,
therefore, was very small at that time. As might be expected, the
glimpse we get of their mode of treatment reveals the customary
restraints of former days. The inventory records "Six chains of iron,
with six locks; four pairs of manacles of iron, and two pairs of
stocks." I do not here, or elsewhere, find any reference to the use of
the whip. I may remark, by the way, that the Commissioners observe that
whereas originally the master of the house wore the Star of the Order of
Bethlem, the master at that time did not. The original star contained
sixteen points, which we may consider to indicate, appropriately, the
words Estoile de Bethlem.

On the arms of Bethlem[59] was also a basket of bread, in reference to
the Hebrew etymology, "House of Bread." The bread is described as
wastell cake, a word first met with in a statute 51 Hen. III., where it
is described as white bread well baked.

Chaucer says of the "Prioress"--

"Of small houndes hadde she, that she fedde
With roasted flesh, and milk and wastel brede."

Shakespeare," is from gasteau, now gateau, anciently written gastel,
and, in the Picard dialect, ouastel or watel, a cake.

I would here draw attention to the site of St. Martin's Lane, and the
adjoining district. At the southwest corner of St. Martin's Lane, in the
angle formed by it and Charing Cross, was situated a religious (?)
house, of the foundation of which I can discover nothing. The point of
interest to us in connection with it is this: that at a very early
period lunatics were confined there. Stow, in his "Survey of London,"
etc., written in 1598, says, under "The Citie of Westminster," "From
thence is now a continuall new building of diuers fayre houses euen up
to the Earle of Bedford's house lately builded nigh to Iuy Bridge, and
so on the north side, to a lane that turneth to the parish church of S.
Martin's in the Field, in the liberty of Westminster. Then had ye an
house, wherein some time were distraught and lunatike people, of what
antiquity founded, or by whom, I have not read, neither of the
suppression; but it was said that some time a king of England, not
liking such a kind of people to remaine so neare his pallace, caused
them to be removed further off to Bethlem without Bishopsgate of London,
and to that Hospitall the said house by Charing Crosse doth yeth

I have spent considerable time in endeavouring to discover who this king
was, but without success. If we assume that this was the first time that
Bethlem received lunatics within its walls, we must refer the event to a
date prior to 1403, because we know, as I have pointed out, that there
were mad people in Bethlem at that date. One statement is that the
sovereign was Henry IV., and that is not improbable, but it may have
been Richard II. Whoever the king was, he appears to have been rather
fastidious, considering the proximity is not very close between Charing
Cross and any of the Royal Palaces. Possibly, as the Royal "Mewse" was
at Charing Cross, his Majesty, whenever he visited his falcons, which
were "mewed" or confined here--long before the same place was used for
stables--may have been disturbed by the sounds he heard.[61] It is
interesting in this connection to learn that Chaucer was clerk of the
Charing Cross Mews. On the site of the Mews stands now the National
Gallery, and the house for lunatics must have been situated in Trafalgar
Square, about where Havelock's equestrian statue stands.

Here I may note also, on the same authority, that there was in Edward
III.'s reign (1370) a hospital founded in the parish of Barking by
Robert Denton, "chaplen," "for the sustentation of poor Priests and
other men and women that were sicke of the Phrenzie, there to remaine
till they were perfectly whole and restored to good memorie."[62] I know
nothing further of this asylum. It must remain an undetermined question
whether there were any lunatics in Bedlam prior to the establishment of
the houses at Charing Cross and Barking. As, however, both these were
devoted to their exclusive care, and Bethlem at that period was not, I
think we must grant their priority as special houses for deranged

It will be observed that in the passage cited from Stow, the house at
Charing Cross is described as belonging to Bethlem Hospital. I have
ascertained that the Charing Cross property belonged to Bethlem Hospital
until 1830, when it was sold or exchanged in order to allow of the
improvements which were shortly afterwards made there in laying out
Trafalgar Square and building the National Gallery.

We know, then, that from about 1400--probably earlier--Bethlem received
lunatics, on however small a scale; and we have here an explanation of
the fact which has occasioned surprise, that before the time of the
charter of Henry VIII., whose name is inscribed over the pediment of the
existing building, the word "Bedlam" is used for a madman or mad-house.
Thus Tyndale made use of the word some twenty years before the royal
grant in his "Prologue to the Testament," a unique fragment of which
exists in the British Museum, where he says it is "bedlam madde to
affirme that good is the natural cause of yvell."

Speaking of Wolsey, Skelton, who died in 1529, says in his "Why come ye
not to Court?"--

"He grinnes and he gapes,
As it were Jacke Napes,
Such a mad Bedlam."

The familiar expression "Jackanapes" is evidently a corruption of the
above. The term occurs in "The Merry Wives of Windsor": "I vill teach a
scurvy jackanape priest to meddle or make."[63] The origin of the phrase
in Jack-o'naibs, a Saracen game of cards, seems doubtful. Any way, it
came to be used for a witless fellow, or Bedlamite.

And Sir Thomas More, in his treatise "De Quatuor Novissimis," says,
"Think not that everything is pleasant that men for madness laugh at.
For thou shalt in Bedleem see one laugh at the knocking of his own hed
against a post, and yet there is little pleasure therein." And, again,
in the "Apology" made by him in 1533 (thirteen years before the grant),
in which he gives a most curious account of the treatment of a poor
lunatic: He was "one which after that he had fallen into these frantick
heresies, fell soon after into plaine open franzye beside. And all beit
that he had therefore bene put up in Bedelem, and afterward by beating
and correccion gathered his remembraance to him and beganne to come
again to himselfe, being thereupon set at liberty, and walkinge aboute
abrode, his old fansies beganne to fall againe in his heade." Although
what follows has nothing to do with Bethlem, I cannot avoid quoting it,
as it illustrates so graphically the whipping-post treatment of that
day. "I was fro dyvers good holy places advertised, that he used in his
wandering about to come into the churche, and there make many mad toies
and trifles, to the trouble of good people in the divine service, and
specially woulde he be most busye in the time of most silence, while the
priest was at the secretes of the masse aboute the levacion." After
proof of his indecent behaviour, he proceeds, "Whereupon I beinge
advertised of these pageauntes, and beinge sent unto and required by
very devout relygious folke, to take some other order with him, caused
him, as he came wanderinge by my doore, to be taken by the connstables
and bounden to a tree in the streete before the whole towne, and ther
they stripped [striped] him with roddes therefore till he waxed weary
and somewhat lenger. And it appeared well that hys remembraunce was
goode ineoughe save that it went about in grazing [wool-gathering!] til
it was beaten home. For he coulde then verye wel reherse his fautes
himselfe, and speake and treate very well, and promise to doe afterward
as well." Sir Thomas More ends with this delicious sentence:--"And
verylye God be thanked I heare none harme of him now."[64]

To return to Bethlem Hospital. I can discover nothing of interest in
regard to it between 1403 and 1523; except, indeed, that I observe in
the "Memorials of London," 1276-1419, a man was punished for pretending
to be a collector for the hospital of "Bedlem," in 1412. He was to
remain for one hour of the day in the pillory, the money-box he had used
being "in the mean time placed and tied to his neck." At the date
mentioned above, 1523, Stephen Jennings, merchant taylor, previously
Lord Mayor of London, gave a sum of money in his will towards the
purchase of the patronage of Bethlem Hospital. Three and twenty years
later (1546) the citizens of London are said to have purchased "the
patronage thereof, with all the lands and tenements thereunto
belonging." But there is no evidence that they did give any money for
this patronage. Sir John Gresham, the Lord Mayor, petitioned the king in
this year to grant Bethlem Hospital to the City; and the king did grant
it along with St. Bartholomew's Hospital, on condition that the City
should expend a certain amount of money on new buildings in connection
with the latter. It is only in this sense, I believe, that they
"purchased" Bethlem Hospital; and further, it must be understood that
the City obtained the patronage or government only, and not the freehold
of the premises, although in process of time the Crown ceased to claim
or possess any property in the hospital.

In the indenture of the covenant made 27th December, 1546, between the
King and the City of London granting St. Bartholomew's Hospital and
Bethlem, there is no mention of appropriating the latter to the use of
lunatics (for this, as we have seen, had been done already), but it is
simply said "the king granted to the said citizens that they and their
successors should thenceforth be masters, rulers, and governors of the
hospital or house called Bethlem, and should have the governance of the
same and of the people there, with power to see and to cause the rents
and profits of the lands and possessions of the same hospital to be
employed for the relief of the poor people there, according to the
meaning of the foundation of the same, or otherwise as it should please
the king for better order to devise." The charter was granted on the
13th of January, 1547. The King died on the 29th. The value of the
estate at this period is said to have been L504 12s. 11d.[65]

I wish to reproduce here the form of the buildings of Bethlem (or, as we
ought now to designate it, Bethlem or Bethlehem Royal Hospital) at the
time of Henry VIII., and for long before and after that time. I have, I
believe, consulted every important map of old London, and have found it
no easy task to obtain a clear notion of the appearance of the building
at that period. No print of the first hospital is in existence; at
least, I have never been able to find it, or met with any one who has
seen it. I believe, however, that a good idea of the premises can be
formed from a study of the map of London by Agas, made not very long
after the death of Henry VIII. (1560), and now in the Guildhall, where
its careful examination has been facilitated by Mr. Overall, the
Librarian. From it I have represented an elevation of the hospital (see
engraving), which will, I believe, convey a fairly correct notion of the
extent and character of the premises. I am gratified to know that the
reader will see as distinct a representation of the first Bethlem as can
be framed from the old maps--the real old Bedlam of Sir Thomas More, of
Tyndale, and Shakespeare. Shakespeare, I may here say, uses the word
Bedlam six times. It will be seen there is a rectangular area surrounded
by buildings. In the centre is the church of the hospital. This was
taken down in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and other buildings erected
in its place.

The oldest written description of any portion of the building which is
extant mentions "below stairs a parlour, a kitchen, two larders, a long
entry [corridor] throughout the house, and twenty-one rooms wherein the
poor distracted people lie; and above the stairs eight rooms more for
servants and the poor to lie in."[66]

It will be observed that there was a gate on the west side, and another
on the east.

From Agas.] [Page 60.]

A map of ancient London was reconstructed, with great ingenuity and
labour, by the late Mr. Newton, 1855. But his reconstruction of Bethlem
and its surroundings contains several inaccuracies which have been
avoided in the accompanying view. The church in the quadrangle differs
completely from that given in Agas; and Newton fails to recognize the
character of the gate and its crenelated tower on the east side. There
appear to have been, at the time of Agas, no buildings on the west side
of the quadrangle, but in Braun and Hogenberg's or Stilliard's map,
there are houses not represented in the engraving. I must express my
great obligation to Mr. J. E. Gardner, of London, as also to Mr. J. B.
Clark, for the assistance rendered me in this attempt to recover the
outlines of the premises comprised under the true Old Bethlem.[67]

Eight years after the death of Henry VIII. (1555)--the second year of
Philip and Mary--it was ordered that the governors of Christ's Hospital
should be charged with the oversight and government of Bethlem, and
receive the account of rents, etc., instead of the City chamberlain; but
this arrangement lasted only a short time, for in September, 1557,
another change was made, and the management was transferred to the
governors of Bridewell (which had been given to the City by Edward VI.
in 1553), subject, of course, to the jurisdiction of the citizens. The
same treasurer was appointed for both. This union of the hospitals was
confirmed by the Act 22 Geo. III., c. 77, and continues, as is well
known, to the present day. It was not until this act passed that the
paramount authority of the City ceased, and the government now in
force was established, by which it was distinctly vested in a
president, treasurer, the Court of Aldermen, and the Common Council, and
an unlimited number of governors, elected by ballot. So that now the
only sense in which Bethlem continues to belong to the City is that the
aldermen and common councilmen are ex-officio governors. As there are
at the present time upwards of two hundred governors, they are in a
decided minority.[68]

Time was when Bethlem Hospital did not possess the magnificent income
which she now enjoys. She knew, as we have seen, what poverty meant; and
even if we make due allowance for the increased value of money we can
hardly read without surprise that in 1555 the income from all the
possessions of the hospital only amounted to L40 8s. 4d. Of course,
considerable sums were collected as alms. Nearly a century after, the
valuation of real estates showed an annual value of L470. Several
annuities had also been bequeathed, as that of Sir Thomas Gresham in
1575, for "the poor diseased in their minds in Bethlem."

The revenues, however, fell far short of the requirements of the
hospital--namely, about two-thirds of the yearly charge--and at a court
held in 1642 preachers were directed to preach at the Spital of St.
Mary, in Bishopsgate Street, informing the public of the need of
pecuniary help, and exciting them to the exercise of charity.

Again, in 1669 a deputation waited on the Lord Mayor to acquaint him
with the great cost of Bethlem, and to request that no patient should be
sent until the president was informed, in order that he might fix on the
weekly allowance, and obtain some security of payment.

I need not say that since the period to which I refer, the income of
Bethlem Hospital has, in consequence of gifts, and the enormously
greater value of house property in London, been immensely increased, and
that what with its annuities, its stocks of various kinds, and its
extensive estates, it is to-day in the position of doing, and without
doubt actually does, an immense amount of good.

Half a century after Henry VIII.'s death, Bethlem Hospital was reported
to be so loathsome as to be unfit for any man to enter. There were then
twenty patients. I do not know, however, that any action was taken in
consequence. Thirty-four years afterwards (1632), I observe that the
buildings were enlarged, and mention is made of "one messuage, newly
builded of brick at the charge of the said hospital, containing a
cellar, a kitchen, a hall, four chambers, and a garret, being newly
added unto the old rooms." Also, "a long waste room now being contrived
and in work, to make eight rooms more for poor people to lodge where
there lacked room before."[69]

In 1624, and I dare say at many other periods, the patients were so
refractory that it was necessary to call in the flax-dressers, whose
tenter-boards may be seen in the adjoining field in the maps of London
of this period, in order to assist the keepers in their duties!

Just about the same date (1632) I notice that an inquisition mentions
various sums being expended on fetters and straw. The governor at that
time, I should add, was a medical man. This is the first mention of such
being the case. His name was Helkins or Hilkiah Crooke. He was born in
Suffolk; graduated M.B. in 1599 and M.D. in 1604. He was a Fellow of the
College of Physicians, and was author of "A Description of the Body of
Man," etc. (1616). There is in the second edition of this work a small
whole-length portrait by Droeshout.[70]

Ten years later (1642) there was a still further addition to Bethlem.
Twelve rooms were built on the ground floor, over which there were eight
for lunatics. The hospital, however, only accommodated some fifty or
sixty patients, and it is observed in "Stow's Survey of London," that
besides being too small to receive a sufficient number of distracted
persons of both sexes, it stood on an obscure and close place near to
many common sewers.

The hospital was one day visited by Evelyn. He had been dining with Lord
Hatton, and writes on returning: "I stepped into Bedlam, where I saw
several poor miserable creatures in chains; one of them was mad with
making verses." This was on the 21st of April, 1657. Pepys does not
record a single visit to it himself, but on February 21, 1668, he enters
in his diary that "the young people went to Bedlam."[71]

Smith, in his "Ancient Topography of London," says--and the authority
for most of his statements was Mr. Haslam[72]--"The men and women in old
Bethlem were huddled together in the same ward." It was only when the
second Bethlem was built that they had separate wards.

In Hollar's Map of London, engraved 1667, which gives the most distinct
representation of Bethlem Hospital at that period, there are no
additional buildings given, although we know they had been made. Nor are
those inserted which were built on the site of the church in the centre
of the quadrangle.

I have in the previous chapter spoken of Bedlam beggars, and would add
here that they are represented as wearing about their necks "a great
horn of an ox in a string or bawdry, which when they came to an house
for alms, they did wind, and they did put the drink given them into
their horn, whereto they did put a stopple." This description by
Aubrey[73] illustrates "Poor Tom, thy horn is dry!" in "King Lear." So
in Dekker's "English Villanies" (1648) the Abram-man is described as
begging thus: "Good worship master! bestow you reward on a poor man who
hath been in Bedlam without Bishopsgate three years, four months, and
nine days, and bestow one piece of small silver towards his fees which
he is indebted there of L3 13s. 7-1/2d. (or to such effect), and hath
not wherewith to pay the same but by the help of worshipful and
well-disposed people, and God to reward them for it." "Then," adds
Dekker, "will he dance and sing, and use some other antic and ridiculous
gestures, shutting up his counterfeit puppet play with this epilogue or
conclusion--'Good dame, give poor Tom one cup of the best drink. God
save the king and his Council, and the governor of this place.'"

Bedlam beggars were so great a nuisance, even in 1675, that the
governors gave the following public notice:--"Whereas several vagrant
persons do wander about the City of London and Countries, pretending
themselves to be lunaticks, under cure in the Hospital of Bethlem
commonly called Bedlam, with brass plates about their arms, and
inscriptions thereon. These are to give notice, that there is no such
liberty given to any patients kept in the said Hospital for their cure,
neither is any such plate as a distinction or mark put upon any lunatick
during their time of being there, or when discharged thence. And that
the same is a false pretence to colour their wandering and begging, and
to deceive the people, to the dishonour of the government of that

I will now pass on to the close of the chapter of this the first Bethlem
Hospital, with the remark in passing that Charles I. confirmed the
charter of Henry VIII. in 1638,[75] and will direct attention to the
year 1674, when the old premises having become totally unfit for the
care--to say nothing of the treatment--of the inmates, it was decided to
build another hospital. The City granted a piece of land on the north
side of London Wall, extending from Moor Gate, seven hundred and forty
feet, to a postern opposite Winchester Street, and in breadth eighty
feet--the whole length of what is now the south side of Finsbury Circus.
At the present time the corner of London Wall and Finsbury Pavement,
Albion Hall, and the houses to the east, mark this spot, the grounds in
front of the hospital being, of course, situated in what is now Finsbury

Smith's plates, in his "Ancient London," show the back and west wing of
the asylum very well; and an elevation showing its front, which looked
north towards what is now the London Institution, is represented in an
engraving frequently met with in the print shops. Circus Place now runs
through what was the centre of the building. The building, intended for
a hundred and twenty patients (but capable of holding a hundred and
fifty), was commenced in April, 1675, and finished in July of the
following year, at a cost of L17,000. It was five hundred and forty feet
long by forty feet broad.

Of this building, Gay wrote--

"Through fam'd Moorfields, extends a spacious seat,
Where mortals of exalted wit retreat;
Where, wrapp'd in contemplation and in straw,
The wiser few from the mad world withdraw."

Evelyn thus records his visit to the new hospital: "1678, April 18. I
went to see New Bedlam Hospital, magnificently built, and most sweetly
placed in Moorfields since the dreadful fire in London."[76]

"Sweetly" was not an appropriate term to use, as it proved, for it was
built on the ditch or sewer on the north side of London Wall, and this
circumstance led to the foundations ultimately proving insecure, not to
say unsavoury.

As the hospital was opened in 1676, it is noteworthy that it is now more
than two centuries since the first large asylum[77] was built for the
sole object of providing for the insane in England. This is the building
in Moorfields so familiar to our forefathers for nearly a century and a
half, and known as Old Bethlem by print-dealers, and, indeed, by almost
every one else; for the memories and traditions of the genuine Old
Bethlem, which I have endeavoured to resuscitate, have almost faded
away. Indeed, in 1815, when one of the physicians of the hospital (Dr.
Monro) was asked, at the Select Committee of the House of Commons,
whether there had not been such a building, he replied that he did not

Let me bring before the reader the condition of Moorfields in those
days. Finsbury was so called from the fenny district in which it lay.
Skating was largely practised here. In the old maps Finsbury fields lie
on the north-east side of Moorfields. Now Finsbury Circus and Square
correspond to the site of a part of Moorfields. Formerly Moorfields
extended up to Hoxton, "but being one continued marsh, they were in 1511
made passable by proper bridges and causeways. Since that time the
ground has been gradually drained and raised."[78]

It was a favourite resort for archers. An association called the Archers
of Finsbury was formed in King Edward I.'s time. There is an old book on
archery, entitled "Ayme for Finsbury Archers," 1628. An anonymous poem
in blank verse, published in 1717, entitled "Bethlem Hospital,"
attributed to John Rutter, M.A., contains the following lines, referring
to the appropriation of the ground for drying clothes:--

"Where for the City dames to blaunch their cloaths,
Some sober matron (so tradition says)
On families' affairs intent, concern'd,
At the dark hue of the then decent Ruff
From marshy or from moorish barren grounds,
Caused to be taken in, what now Moorfields,
Shaded by trees and pleasant walks laid out,
Is called, the name retaining to denote,
From what they were, how Time can alter things.
Here close adjoining, mournful to behold
The dismal habitation stands alone."

The following is the description of the building given by Smith in his
"Ancient Topography of London":--"The principal entrance is from the
north, of brick and freestone, adorned with four pilasters, a circular
pediment, and entablature of the Corinthian Order. The King's arms are
in the pediment, and those of Sir William Turner above the front centre
window.... It certainly conveys ideas of grandeur. Indeed it was for
many years the only building which looked like a palace[79] in London.
Before the front there is a spacious paved court, bounded by a pair of
massy iron gates, surmounted with the arms of the Hospital. These gates
hang on two stone piers, composed of columns of the Ionic Order, on
either side of which there is a small gate for common use. On the top of
each pier was a recumbent figure, one of raving, the other of melancholy
madness, carved by Caius Gabriel Cibber. The feeling of this sculptor
was so acute, that it is said he would begin immediately to carve the
subject from the block, without any previous model, or even fixing any
points to guide him. I have often heard my father say that his master,
Roubiliac, whenever city business called him thither, would always
return by Bethlem, purposely to view these figures" (p. 32).

Under an engraving of these figures, drawn by Stothard, are the lines:--

"Bethlemii ad portas se tollit dupla columna;
#Heikona ton entos cho lithos ektos echei.#
Hic calvum ad dextram tristi caput ore reclinat,
Vix illum ad laevam ferrea vinc'la tenent.
Dissimilis furor est Statuis; sed utrumque laborem
Et genium artificis laudat uterque furor."

Lustus Westmonasteriensis.

Pope, in the "Dunciad," thus spitefully refers to them in connection
with the sculptor's son, Colley Cibber, the comedian:--

"Close to those walls where Folly holds her throne,
And laughs to think Monro would take her down,
Where o'er the gates by his famed father's hand
Great Cibber's brazen,[80] brainless brothers stand."

Nettled at being made the brother of two madmen, Cibber retaliated in a
philippic upon Pope, which it is said (with what truth I know not)
hastened his death.[81] It was entitled "A letter from Mr. Cibber to Mr.
Pope, wherein the New Hero's Preferment to his Throne in the 'Dunciad'
seems not to be accepted, and the Author of that Poem His more rightful
claim to it is asserted.

----'Remember Sauney's Fate,
Bang'd by the Blockhead whom he strove to beat.'

Parodie on Lord Roscommon.

London, MDCCXLIV." And certainly Pope died a few months after, May,
1744. It is, however, highly improbable that he would in the slightest
degree care for this letter, though he might suffer some remorse for his
spiteful attack on so good-natured a fellow. Cibber says in this letter
that people "allow that by this last stale and slow endeavour to maul
me, you have fairly wrote yourself up to the Throne you have raised, for
the immortal Dulness of your humble servant to nod in. I am therefore
now convinced that it would be ill-breeding in Me to take your seat,
Mr. Pope. Nay, pray, Sir, don't press me!... I am utterly conscious
that no Man has so good a Right to repose in it, as yourself. Therefore,
dear, good good Mr. Pope, be seated!... Whether you call me Dunce or
Doctor, whether you like me, or lick me, contemn, jerk, or praise me,
you will still find me the same merry Monarch I was before you did me
the Honour to put yourself out of Humour about me," etc.

These figures, now banished to South Kensington Museum, and there
incarcerated at the top of the building, and only seen by special
permission, are, of course, quite unsuitable for the entrance of the
hospital, but I would plead for their being placed somewhere in Bethlem,
their natural habitat. As works of art, the governors and officers
cannot but be proud of them. I suppose, however, their banishment is
intended as a public protest against the old system of treatment which
one of them exhibits, and from this point of view is no doubt
creditable. I would here observe that the figure of the maniac is
superior to that of the melancholiac, whose expression is rather that of
dementia than melancholia. I think that when Bacon, in 1820, repaired
this statue, he must have altered the mouth, because, in the engraving
by Stothard, this feature, and perhaps others, are more expressive.

At Bethlem Hospital there were also certain gates called the "penny
gates," and on each side of them was a figure of a maniac--one a male,
the other a female. "They are excellently carved in wood, nearly the
size of life, have frequently been painted in proper colours, and bear
other evidence of age. It is reported they were brought from Old
Bethlem. In tablets over the niches in which they stand, is the
following supplication:--'Pray remember the poor Lunaticks and put your
Charity into the Box with your own hand.'"[82]

There was a portrait of Henry VIII. in the hospital, which was also said
to have been brought from the first Bethlem. A portrait is now in the
committee-room of the hospital.

The "penny gates" refer, no doubt, to the custom of allowing Bethlem to
be one of the sights of the metropolis, the admission of any one being
allowed for a penny, by which an annual income of at least L400 was
realized. The practice was discontinued in 1770. This amount is,
however, probably exaggerated, as it is difficult to believe that 96,000
persons visited the hospital in the course of the year. Ned Ward,
however, from whom I shall shortly quote, says the fee was 2d. in his
time. If so, 48,000 may be about correct.

In the "Rake's Progress," Hogarth represents two fashionable ladies
visiting this hospital as a show-place, while the poor Rake is being
fettered by a keeper. The doctor, I suppose, is standing by. The
deserted woman who has followed him in his downward course to the
hospital is by his side. The expression of the Rake has been said to be
a perfect representation of

"Moody madness laughing wild, amid severest woe."

A maniac lying on straw in one of the cells is a conspicuous figure.
There is a chain clearly visible.

In another cell is a man who believes himself a king, and wears a crown
of straw.

An astronomer has made himself a roll of paper for a telescope, and
imagines that he is looking at the heavens. The patient near him has
drawn on the wall the firing off a bomb, and a ship moored in the
distance. Ireland, in his notes on "Hogarth," says it was to ridicule
Whiston's project for the discovery of the longitude, which then
attracted attention, and had sent some people crazy. Then there is a mad
musician with his music-book on his head; a sham pope; and a poor man on
the stairs "crazed with care, and crossed by hopeless love," who has
chalked "Charming Betty Careless" upon the wall. One figure looks like a
woman, holding a tape in her hands, but is intended for a tailor.[83]

There is in Mr. Gardner's collection a print representing the interior
of one of the wards of Bethlem about the year 1745, when the hospital,
therefore, was in Moorfields. There are manacles on the arms of a
patient who is lying on the floor, but there are none on the legs, as
represented in Hogarth. With this interior, kindly placed at my disposal
by Mr. Gardner, the reader can compare an interior of the existing
institution, from a photograph, for the use of which I am indebted to
the present medical superintendent, Dr. Savage. The artist of the former
picture has evidently aimed at giving as pleasant an impression as
possible of the care bestowed on the inmates of Bethlem, but the
contrast is an interesting commentary on the past and present
appearance of an asylum gallery.

Print in Mr. Gardner's collection.] [Page 74.]

From a Photograph.] [Page 74.]

In a poem bearing the title of "Bedlam," and dated 1776, the writer,
after bestowing praise on the building, adds:--

"Far other views than these within appear,
And Woe and Horror dwell for ever here;
For ever from the echoing roofs rebounds
A dreadful Din of heterogeneous sounds:
From this, from that, from every quarter rise
Loud shouts, and sullen groans, and doleful cries;
* * * * *
Within the chambers which this Dome contains,
In all her 'frantic' forms, Distraction reigns:
* * * * *
Rattling his chains, the wretch all raving lies,
And roars and foams, and Earth and Heaven defies."

Ned Ward, in his "London Spy," gives a graphic account of his visit with
a friend to Bedlam:--"Thus," he says, "we prattled away our time, till
we came in sight of a noble pile of buildings, which diverted us from
our former discourse, and gave my friend the occasion of asking me my
thoughts of this magnificent edifice. I told him I conceived it to be my
Lord Mayor's palace, for I could not imagine so stately a structure to
be designed for any quality interior; he smiled at my innocent
conjecture, and informed me this was Bedlam, an Hospital for mad folks.
In truth, said I, I think they were mad that built so costly a college
for such a crack-brained society; adding, it was a pity so fine a
building should not be possessed by such who had a sense of their
happiness: sure, said I, it was a mad age when this was raised, and the
chief of the city were in great danger of losing their senses, so
contrived it the more noble for their own reception, or they would never
have flung away so much money to so foolish a purpose. You must
consider, says my friend, this stands upon the same foundation as the
Monument, and the fortunes of a great many poor wretches lie buried in
this ostentatious piece of vanity; and this, like the other, is but a
monument of the City's shame and dishonour, instead of its glory; come,
let us take a walk in, and view its inside. Accordingly we were admitted
in thro' an iron gate, within which sat a brawny Cerberus, of an
Indico-colour, leaning upon a money-box; we turned in through another
Iron-Barricado, where we heard such a rattling of chains, drumming of
doors, ranting, hollowing, singing, and running, that I could think of
nothing but Don Quevedo's Vision, where the lost souls broke loose and
put Hell in an uproar. The first whimsey-headed wretch of this lunatic
family that we observed, was a merry fellow in a straw cap, who was
talking to himself, 'that he had an army of Eagles at his command,' then
clapping his hand upon his head, swore by his crown of moonshine, he
would battle all the Stars in the Skies, but he would have some
claret.... We then moved on till we found another remarkable figure
worth our observing, who was peeping through his wicket, eating of bread
and cheese, talking all the while like a carrier at his supper, chewing
his words with his victuals, all that he spoke being in praise of bread
and cheese: 'bread was good with cheese, and cheese was good with bread,
and bread and cheese was good together;' and abundance of such stuff;
to which my friend and I, with others stood listening; at last he
counterfeits a sneeze, and shot such a mouthful of bread and cheese
amongst us, that every spectator had some share of his kindness, which
made us retreat."[84]

Many other dialogues with the inmates of Bedlam are given, but they are
evidently embellished, or altogether fictitious; true as I believe the
description of the building and the uproar within to be.

Mr. Harvey, from his recollections of the hospital in Moorfields, in the
early part of this century, thus writes in 1863: "When I remember
Moorfields first, it was a large, open quadrangular space, shut in by
the Pavement to the west, the hospital and its outbuildings to the
south, and lines of shops with fronts, occupied chiefly by dealers in
old furniture, to the east and north. Most of these shops were covered
in by screens of canvas or rough boards, so as to form an apology for a
piazza; and if you were bold enough, in wet weather, you might take
refuge under them, but it was at the imminent risk of your purse or your
handkerchief. It was interesting to inspect the articles exposed for
sale: here a cracked mirror in a dingy frame, a set of hair-seated
chairs, the horse-hair protruding; a table, stiff, upright easy chairs,
without a bottom, etc. These miscellaneous treasures were guarded by
swarthy men and women of Israel, who paraded in front of their narrow
dominions all the working day, and if you did but pause for an instant,
you must expect to be dragged into some hideous Babel of frowsy
chattels, and made a purchaser in spite of yourself. Escaping from this
uncomfortable mart to the hospital footway, a strange scene of utter
desertion came over you; long, gloomy lines of cells, strongly barred,
and obscured with the accumulated dust, silent as the grave, unless
fancy brought sounds of woe to your ears, rose before you; and there, on
each side of the principal entrance, were the wonderful effigies of
raving and moping madness, chiselled by the elder Cibber. How those
stone faces and eyes glared! How sternly the razor must have swept over
those bare heads! How listless and dead were those limbs, bound with
inexorable fetters, while the iron of despair had pierced the hearts of
the prisoned maniacs!"[85]

It was in 1733 that two wings were added for incurable patients, but
this proved insufficient in the course of time; and in 1793 an adjoining
plot of ground was obtained, and more accommodation provided. Only six
years later, however, surveyors appointed to inspect the premises
reported that the hospital was dreary, low, melancholy, and not well
aired; and in 1804 the condition of the building was so dangerous that
it was resolved to admit no more patients except those already
petitioned for.[86] As the asylum had been built upon the ancient ditch
of the city, a large portion of the foundation was insecure. Serious
settlements had taken place, and rendered it necessary to underpin the
walls.[87] When one looks at the palatial building represented in
engravings, one feels some surprise to find it described as so low and
dreary; but doubtless it was quite time to erect another asylum, and
seek a better and more open site.

I do not propose to enter upon the revelations made as to the internal
condition of Bethlem Hospital by the investigations of the Committee of
the House of Commons in 1815;[88] many are familiar with the prints
exhibited at this Committee, of poor Norris who was secured by chains as
there represented, consisting of (1) a collar, encircling the neck, and
confined by a chain to a pole fixed at the head of the patient's bed;
(2) an iron frame, the lower part of which encircled the body, and the
upper part of which passed over the shoulders, having on either side
apertures for the arms, which encircled them above the elbow; (3) a
chain passing from the ankle of the patient to the foot of the bed.

As to the treatment pursued at this time at Bethlem, the pith of it is
expressed in one sentence by Dr. T. Monro in his evidence before the
Committee. He had been visiting physician since 1783. "Patients," he
says, "are ordered to be bled about the latter end of May, according to
the weather; and after they have been bled, they take vomits, once a
week for a certain number of weeks; after that we purge the patients.
That has been the practice invariably for years long before my time; it
was handed down to me by my father, and I do not know any better
practice." If in all this we are disposed to blame Bethlem, let us still
more condemn the lamentable ignorance and miserable medical red-tapism
which marked the practice of lunacy in former times.

I may here remark that, prior to the Monros, Dr. Thomas Allen[89] was,
in 1679, visiting physician to Bethlem, and that, as I have observed
already, Helkins Crooke (1632) was the first medical man who is known to
have been at the head of this hospital. Dr. Tyson was physician from
1684 to 1703. Mr. Haslam was appointed resident apothecary in 1795, and
in 1815 gave evidence before the Committee of the House of Commons. At
that time he said there were a hundred and twenty-two patients; "not
half the number," he stated, "which we used to have." For these there
were three male and two female keepers: the former assisting the latter
when the female patients were refractory. Ten patients, he said, were at
that moment in chains, and we may be sure that the number was much
larger before public feeling had been aroused to demand investigation.
"The ultimatum of our restraint," said Mr. Haslam, "is manacles, and a
chain round the leg, or being chained by one arm; the strait waistcoat,
for the best of reasons, is never employed by us." Mr. Haslam, when
asked whether a violent patient could be safely trusted when his fist
and wrists were chained, replied, "Then he would be an innoxious
animal." Patients, however, were frequently chained to the wall in
addition to being manacled.

A brief reference here to Dr. Allen and Dr. Tyson will not be out of

"To his [Dr. Allen's] credit let it be recorded," says Dr. Munk, "that
he refused to accede to a proposition which had met with general
approbation at the Royal Society (of which he was himself a Fellow), to
make the first experiment of the transfusion of blood in this country
'upon some mad person in Bedlam.'" He died in 1684.

Dr. Edward Tyson, F.R.S., was the author of various works, but none on
mental disease. His portrait is in the College. He died in 1708, aged
58, and was buried in St. Dionys Backchurch, where there is a monument
to his memory. He is the Carus of Garth's Dispensary.[90]

"In his chill veins the sluggish puddle flows,
And loads with lazy fogs his sable brows;
Legions of lunaticks about him press,
His province is lost Reason to redress."

Of the family whose hereditary connection with Bethlem is so remarkable,
it should be chronicled that Dr. James Monro was elected physician to
Bethlem, 1728; he died 1752. His son describes him as "a man of
admirable discernment, who treated insanity with an address that will
not soon be equalled." Dr. John Monro succeeded his father in this post.
"He limited his practice almost exclusively to insanity, and in the
treatment of that disease is said to have attained to greater eminence
and success than any of his contemporaries. In January, 1783, while
still in full business, he was attacked with paralysis.... His vigour,
both of body and mind, began from that time to decline. In 1787 his son,
Dr. Thomas Monro, was appointed his assistant at Bethlem Hospital, and
he then gradually withdrew from business."[91] He died in 1791, aged 77.
He was the author of "Remarks on Dr. Battie's Treatise on Madness,
1758." Dr. Thomas Monro was appointed physician to Bethlem in 1792, and
held that office till 1816; he died 1833, aged 73. His son, Dr. Edward
Thomas Monro, succeeded him.

We now arrive at the close of the second Act in the drama of the Royal
Hospital of Bethlehem. The scene of Act the Third is laid in St.
George's Fields. The area of land covered about twelve acres. Provision
was made for two hundred patients. In 1810 an Act of Parliament was
obtained (50 Geo. III., c. 198), by which the City was authorized to
grant the property to trustees for the governors of the hospital, for
the purpose of erecting a new one on an enlarged scale--on lease for
eight hundred and sixty-five years, at a yearly rent of 1s. The
Corporation entered upon the spot occupied by the old hospital in
Moorfields. The first stone was laid in St. George's Fields in April,
1812, and it was opened August, 1815, consisting of a centre and two
wings, the frontage extending five hundred and ninety-four feet. "The
former has a portico, raised on a flight of steps, and composed of six
columns of the Ionic order, surmounted by their entablature, and a
pediment in the tympanum on which is a relief of the Royal arms. The
height to apex is sixty feet." There is the following inscription:


The funds were derived from the following sources:--

L s. d.

Grant from Parliament 72,819 0 6

Benefactions from Public Bodies 5,405 0 0

Private Individuals 5,709 0 0

Amount of Interest upon Balances in hand 14,873 4 8

Contributed from funds of Hospital 23,766 2 3
L122,572 7 5

Even in this new building, opened before the conclusion of the labours
of the Select Committee of the House of Commons, 1815-16, the windows of
the patients' bedrooms were not glazed, nor were the latter warmed; the
basement gallery was miserably damp and cold; there was no provision for
lighting the galleries by night, and their windows were so high from the
ground that the patients could not possibly see out, while the
airing-courts were cheerless and much too small. Such was the
description given by a keen observer, Sydney Smith, from personal

Additional buildings were erected in 1838, the first stone being laid
July 26th of that year, when a public breakfast was given at a cost of
L464; and a narrative of the event at a cost of L140; a generous outlay
of charitable funds! We may be quite sure that no one who breakfasted at
Bethlem on this occasion had any reason to be reminded of Sir Walter
Scott's observation in a letter dated March 16, 1831: "I am tied by a
strict regimen to diet and hours, and, like the poor madman in Bedlam,
most of my food tastes of oatmeal porridge."

Of the site of the third Bethlem Hospital a few words will suffice. The
notorious tavern called "The Dog and Duck" was here, and there is still
to be seen in the wall to the right of the entrance to the hospital a
representation in stone of the dog, with the neck of a duck in its
mouth. It bears the date of 1716. In Mr. Timbs' "London" it is misstated
1617. Doubtless in olden time there was a pond here, for a duck hunt was
a common sport, and brought in much custom to the inn. After the Dog and
Duck, this site was occupied by a blind school, pulled down in 1811.

Shakespeare makes the Duke of York say in "Henry VI.":--

"Soldiers, I thank you all; disperse yourselves;
Meet me to-morrow in Saint George's Fields."

2 Henry VI., Act v. sc. 1.

The only other reference in Shakespeare to this locality indicates that
in his time there was a Windmill Inn in St. George's Fields, for he
makes Shallow say to Falstaff--

"O, Sir John, do you remember since we lay all night in the
Windmill, in Saint George's Fields?"--2 Henry IV., Act iii.
sc. 2.

The subsequent history of Bethlem Royal Hospital; the considerable
improvements which succeeded the investigation; the inquiry and
admirable Report of the Charity Commissioners in 1837, from which it
appears that at that time some of the patients were still chained, and
that the funds of Bethlem had been to no slight extent appropriated to
personal uses; its exemption from the official visitation of asylums
required by the Act of Parliament passed in 1845 (8 and 9 Vict., c.
100);[93] the unsatisfactory condition of the institution as revealed by
the investigations made in 1851 (June 28 to December 4); the placing of
the hospital in 1853 in the same position as regards inspection as other
institutions for the insane (16 and 17 Vict., c. 96); the sweeping away
of the old regime, and the introduction of a new order of things--the
great lesson to be learned from this history being, as I think, the
necessity of having lunatic asylums open to periodical visitation--and
last, but not least, the establishment of a Convalescent Hospital at
Witley within the last few years;--these important events I must content
myself with merely enumerating, but I cannot close this chapter without
expressing the satisfaction with which I regard the present management
of the hospital, all the more striking when we recall some of the past
pages of its history; nor can I avoid congratulating the resident
physician and the other officers of the institution upon this result.


To the foregoing account of Bethlem Hospital it is necessary to add a
brief reference to that of St. Luke's, which, in consequence of the
insufficiency of Bethlem, was established in 1751, by voluntary
subscription, and was situated on the north side of Upper
Moorfields,[94] opposite Bethlem Hospital, in a locality called Windmill
Hill, facing what is now Worship Street. It is stated that pupils were
allowed to attend the hospital in 1753. It appears that Dr. Battie, the
physician to the hospital, who also had a private asylum, was the first
in London to deliver lectures on mental diseases. He wrote "A Treatise
on Madness," in 1758, and in this work censured the medical practice
pursued at Bethlem. He was warmly replied to by Dr. John Monro, in a
book entitled "Remarks on Dr. Battie's 'Treatise on Madness.'" His
"Aphorismi de Cognoscendis et Curandis Morbis nonnullis ad Principia
Animalia accommodati" appeared in 1762. In 1763 he was examined before
the House of Commons as to the state of private mad-houses in England.
In April, 1764, he resigned, dying in 1776, from a paralytic stroke. His
character was described by Judge Hardinge, as follows:--"Battius, faber
fortunae suae, vir egregiae fortitudinis et perseverantiae, medicus
perspicax, doctus et eruditus integritatis castissimae, fideique in
amicitiis perspectae."

Dr. Battie did not escape satire:--[95]

"First Battus came, deep read in worldly art,
Whose tongue ne'er knew the secrets of his heart;
In mischief mighty, tho' but mean of size,
And like the Tempter, ever in disguise.
See him, with aspect grave and gentle tread,
By slow degrees approach the sickly bed;
Then at his Club behold him alter'd soon--
The solemn doctor turns a low Buffoon,
And he, who lately in a learned freak
Poach'd every Lexicon and publish'd Greek,
Still madly emulous of vulgar praise,
From Punch's forehead wrings the dirty bays."

Dr. Munk, to whose "Roll of the Royal College of Physicians" we are
indebted for these particulars, adds, "Eccentricity was strongly marked
throughout the whole of Dr. Battie's career; many strange and curious
anecdotes concerning him are on record," and he quotes from Nichol's
"Literary Anecdotes" (vol. i. p. 18, et seq.) the following:--"He was
of eccentric habits, singular in his dress, sometimes appearing like a
labourer, and doing strange things. Notwithstanding his peculiarities,
he is to be looked upon as a man of learning, of benevolent spirit,
humour, inclination to satire, and considerable skill in his

In 1782 a new building was erected on a site formerly known as "The
Bowling Green," where St. Luke's now stands, in Old Street. It cost
L50,000, extended four hundred and ninety-three feet, and, although
built on the same plan as the former building, was a great improvement.
It was opened January 1, 1787; the patients, one hundred and ten in
number, having been removed from the first hospital.

Elmes says, "There are few buildings in the metropolis, perhaps in
Europe, that, considering the poverty of the material, common English
clamp-bricks, possess such harmony of proportion, with unity and
appropriateness of style, as this building. It is as characteristic of
its uses as that of Newgate, by the same architect" (George Dance,

"Immediately behind this hospital is Peerless Pool, in name altered from
that of 'Perillous Pond,' so called, says old Stow, from the numbers of
youths who had been drowned in it in swimming." So writes Pennant in his
"London," and adds that "in our time [1790] it has, at great expense,
been converted into the finest and most spacious bathing-place now
known; where persons may enjoy this manly and useful exercise with
safety. Here is also an excellent covered bath, with a large pond
stocked with fish, a small library, a bowling green, and every innocent
and rational amusement; so that it is not without reason that the
proprietor hath bestowed on it the present name."[97]

St. Luke's never got into ill repute like Bethlem. The investigation of
the House of Commons' Committee of 1815 did not reveal many abuses. If,
however, its condition at that period were compared with the
well-managed institution of to-day, the result would be a very
gratifying one. Thus, seventy years ago, the author of the "Description
of the Retreat," while preparing it, visited St. Luke's and discuss

Next: Eighteenth-century Asylums Foundation Of The York Retreat

Previous: Medical And Superstitious Treatment Of The Insane In The Olden Time

Add to del.icio.us Add to Reddit Add to Digg Add to Del.icio.us Add to Google Add to Twitter Add to Stumble Upon
Add to Informational Site Network

Viewed 5748