Royal Hospital of Bethlehem, Moorfields, London, 1860.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Plate taken from the 'Illustrated London News' showing Bethlehem ('Bedlam') Royal Hospital in London when it was situated at Moorfields after moving from nearby Bishopsgate. Bethlehem Hospital was a specialised asylum for the treatment of mentally disturbed people. It admitted its first patients in about 1377, by the mid 18th century housed hundreds of people, often in crowded and unpleasant conditions: hence the word, 'bedlam'. Despite the opening of new and more humane institutions, in many asylums viewing the 'lunatics' remained a source of entertainment for wealthy visitors, some of whom are seen here. The hospital moved to St George' Fields, now the site of the Imperial War Museum.