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. This book explores the 800 year history of Bethlem and reveals fascinating details of its ambivalent relationship with London and Londoners, the life and times of the hospital’s more famous patients and the rise of a powerful reform movement which forced the government to take the issue of Bedlam serious.


‘Paul Chambers has illuminated some very murky places. His portraits of those in power in the world of Bedlam, and some of their pitiful charges, give a welcome human scale to this fascinating and wide-ranging survey, from monasteries to madhouses, lunatic asylums to the NHS. I am profoundly glad that my sanity was not questioned between 1728 and 1855.’             Lizard Picard, author of Victorian London


- London’s Hospital for the Mad -