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BARBICAN LIFE


Victorian mansion, Monks Orchard House. This was demolished and the new Bethlehem Hospital was opened in 1930. In 1948 it was merged with the Maudsley Hospital as part of the new National Health Service. It is now part of the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and the oldest psychiatric hospital in the world. There is a small museum at the Bethlehem Royal Hospital with archives available for inspection by appointment and objects associated with its history including Cibber’s statues from the 17th century building.


sympathy towards the mental illness of George III. Whips were no longer used. By 1800 the buildings were considered unsafe and plans were drawn up for a new building in Lambeth. The City had a long tradition of exporting its problems south of the river. Over the centuries that side of the river had accommodated theatres, ale houses, brothels and prisons which were unwelcome north of the river. There may even have been a Roman circus or arena in Southwark. The new hospital building in a classical style, by the architect James Lewis, was completed in 1815 when 122 patients were transported by hackney carriage from Moorfields to Lambeth. Like Hooke’s hospital, this new building also had the appearance of a palace but its interior was as sparse as before, including, initially, no glass in the windows because of the disagreeable stench of such buildings. At the request of the government blocks for criminal lunatics were added and in 1835 there were further extensions and a dome and portico on the central block. These refinements made it look rather like the British Museum; both were designed by Sydney and Robert Smirke.


In 1851 the hospital appointed its first resident medical officer, Dr W Charles Hood. Criminal patients were moved to Broadmoor in 1864. After the old Bethlehem Hospital in the City had been demolished the square garden was made into a circular one and it became Finsbury Circus in 1819.


A century later it was decided to relocate the hospital away from central London to Surrey. In 1925 the governors bought


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land in the boroughs of Beckenham and Croydon which included the dilapidated


The wings of the old hospital buildings in Lambeth were demolished and in 1936 the central block became the home of the Imperial War Museum. The huge dome and portico with cannon either side of the entrance still dominate that stretch of Lambeth Road.


William Hogarth’s famed depiction of Bedlam from The Rake’s Progress


Below: An 1836 engraving of the new Bethlem Hospital – the central part of the building eventually becoming what is now the centre of the Imperial War Museum


Bottom: Bethlem Royal Hospital today


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