The institution that was to become the Royal London Hospital was founded on 23 September 1740, whe…

A consultant in musculo-skeletal Medicine was appointed to develop the specialty. Patient care and finances had improved but individual problems still arose – such as the discovery, in 1830, of apothecary Edward Wright in the female galleries drunk and with his clothing dishevelled.

People who were deemed to be incurably ‘distracted’, ‘idiotic’, ‘mad’ or ‘lunatic’ didn’t qualify, and had to be treated at home or left to wander the countryside as ‘vagrant’ or ‘Tom O’Bedlams’. Although Bethlem Royal Hospital (its official title, although it was more commonly known as Bedlam) was supposed to be the foremost psychiatric institution in Britain, the inspectors thought it had “the appearance of a dog kennel”. The RLHIM has continued to innovate and integrate: it has introduced a successful non-drug insomnia clinic, a facial pain service in collaboration with the Eastman Dental Hospital and offered its complementary cancer care service in the new Macmillan UCLH Cancer Centre since it opened in April 2012.

Adding to the misery was a lack of clothing and heating, rats, and medical officers whose adherence to debilitating purgative cures had become increasingly out-of-step with contemporary thinking. Bethlem soon found itself at the centre of a major financial embezzlement which, together with a general drop in income, placed it in debt. Lessons had been learned and the combination of a new building and new staff members brought about reforms of the sort that Wakefield and others had been calling for. During the inquiry the medical staff fared poorly, with the apothecary blaming others for the squalor while the doctor, Thomas Monro, argued that nothing the MPs had seen was amiss.

By 1991, this had closed completely, leaving only one remaining ward. The first patients were admitted to the hospital, now known as The London Hospital, in 1757, and the buildin… This included Anna Stone, whose treatment was called an act of “disgusting idiocy”. For most of its history Bethlem was the only dedicated mental institution in Britain, which automatically made its medical staff the foremost experts in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. Developed by Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of the famous Charles Darwin, rotational therapy usually involved placing a patient in a chair suspended from a beam by ropes attached to its legs. The myths of the Victorian freak show, A brief history of London tourism since 1800.

There were a number of must-see patients, among them Oliver Cromwell’s melancholic porter Daniel, the politico-religious dissenter Richard Stafford and an assortment of academics, musicians and poets for whom the stress of life had proved too much to bear. Inside the building it was stark, dirty and cold, with no glazed windows or hot water.

Paul Chambers is author of Bedlam: London’s Hospital for the Mad, recently released in paperback by The History Press, This content first appeared in the April 2020 issue of BBC History Revealed. The title 'Royal' was granted by Queen Victoria in 1837 in recognition of the hospital's work with cholera patients.

On 10 October 1999, the RLHH celebrated its 150th anniversary. Princes in the Tower | Exclusive history podcast series, madness was a disease of the body, not of the brain.

In 1981, in a major blow to the Hospital, the operating theatres and surgical beds were closed; the total number of beds was reduced from its maximum of 170 to 45.

For many years, the Royal Free Hospital was the only hospital in London to offer medical training to women.

Her gait is elastic and she romps and plays. Nurses and therapists continued to look at ways of developing their role, and completed further training to extend the range of complementary therapies offered, including breathing and relaxation courses, therapeutic massage and reflexology.

How refreshing, then, to come to this corner of Bloomsbury, with its unique concentration of world-famous specialist hospitals and medical institutes, to find that the reality on the ground in the NHS is quite different. Parkside, apart from its centres for health and care, had many specialist services that complemented those provided by RLHH, including older people's rehabilitation, palliative care and services for people with disabilities, women and children.

In his speech the Prince said: ‘To read the newspapers, one would think that complementary and conventional medicine are virtually at war, with complementary and alternative medicine in retreat. “One can hardly imagine a human being in a more degraded and brutalised condition than that in which I found this female.” The woman, Anna Stone, had been found naked, filthy and chained with several others against the wall of a damp, dark stone cell.

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The hospital’s first great success came in 1854, when a cholera epidemic broke out in Soho, originating from the water of the Broad Street pump (this was the infamous epidemic which came to an abrupt end when Dr John Snow removed the handle of the pump). Darwin himself, in 1796, recommended the practice be performed for “an hour or two, three or four times a day for a month”.

In 2006-2008 there was a sustained media attack on complementary medicine in the NHS; this included a letter calling on PCTs to no longer commission complementary medicine, which was the front page lead in The Times, coinciding with the Prince of Wales’ speech to the World Health Assembly in May 2006. Treatment successes varied from speciality to speciality. In April 1992 the Hospital gained independent trust status and Full Trust status was achieved the following year.

She is a healthy and even fat girl of nine, sharp at her lessons and often top of her school.

It had always suffered from being damp and cold, but increased instances of subsidence and leakage led to a surveyor declaring the edifice to be falling apart.

This was one of several appalling discoveries made by inspectors at London’s Bethlem ‘madhouse’ in 1814. Through the turbulence and uncertainty, our greatest advocates were our patients.

The Minister of Health Aneurin Bevan, the driving force behind the NHS, gave a personal assurance on the future of homeopathy in the NHS.. During the 1950's and 60's the RLHH's influence spread internationally, through young overseas doctors who attended the Hospital for clinical attachments.

Medieval thinking held that madness was a disease of the body, not of the brain, which could be cured using strong medicines to purge the individual of ‘melancholic humours’. At some time or other most Londoners seem to have visited the ‘madman’s college’ including the likes of Samuel Pepys, Dr Johnson and William Hogarth.

Once in the madhouse, Mrs Hawley was assaulted and kept secretly hidden until friends found and eventually freed her. There were subsequent alterations, developments and extensions, but parts of the original building remained in use until 2012. Its aim was “The relief of all sick and diseased persons and, in particular, manufacturers, seamen in the merchant service and their wives and children".

The growing patient demand for high-quality integrated medicine in a changing and increasingly primary-care led NHS, led to the need for a merger with a compatible NHS Trust.

St Luke’s treated its patients through individual diagnosis and care, the belief being that there were many forms of mental illness and not just one. This regime would be administered repeatedly and for as long as ‘the strength would bear’.

The original London Homoeopathic Hospital was in Golden Square, Soho, and was established on 10 October 1849, although it did not receive its first patient until March the following year. From 1770, to limit riotous behaviour by both visitors and patients during seasonal holidays, admission was gradually tightened; by the 1780s, outside access was only possible if accompanied by a hospital governor or senior officer. Patients could be submerged in cold water for long periods of time, wrapped in towels that had been soaked in ice, or sprayed with cold water. The Hospital held a series of international conferences between 1997 and 2006, entitled Improving the Effectiveness of Homoeopathy, each attracting about 200 delegates from 26 countries.

His visits to Bethlem were infrequent, brief and never involved touring the patients’ wards. It became the largest centre for homeopathic medicine in any industrialised country and began to develop other types of complementary medicine.

Away from Bethlem, the discovery of similar conditions elsewhere, most notably the York Asylum, had led to the development of a coherent reformist movement whose influence was beginning to be felt inside Parliament. It was also a popular London attraction for the morbidly entertained. Following his accession to the throne in 1936, the Hospital was honoured by the Patronage of His Majesty The King gaining its ‘Royal’ prefix in 1947. But it also had an unexpected downside.

Quin was a prominent figure in London society and very well connected, having been physician to Queen Victoria’s father-in-law Prince Leopold, father of Prince Albert.

In contrast to traditional medical thinking, Battie publicly denounced the use of “bleeding, blisters, caustics, opium, cold baths and vomits’ in favour of patients being ‘removed from all objects that are known causes of their disorder”. The doctor, Thomas Monro (son and grandson of previous incumbents), preferred collecting art to medicine. He was a personal friend of Charles Dickens and godfather to one of his children.

He was among the first doctors to practice homeopathy in Britain, …

From the 1740s, pupils had been taken on by members of the medical staff to "walk the wards", and in 1785 a lecture theatre was opened on the site with the support of William Blizard and Dr James Maddocks, so that both practical and theoretical education could be received on the same site. With legislation threatened, Bethlem’s governors used their considerable influence to keep the hospital exempted from outside scrutiny. The renovated building also houses lecture theatres, together with seminar and smaller meeting rooms. A financial audit suggested that the hospital was solvent and generally well-managed.