Posts Tagged ‘bedlam’


A great degree of outrage was expressed about the rioting in London, people taking to the streets causing vast damages to cars, shops and property in general. In the 1780’s there was a London Riot that I believe was far worse in comparison, was this due to the care and conditions they were in or are we simply no good at organising a rebellion? We’re out of practise, we’re more civilised with our approach? Who knows but rioting, rebellion and other forms of protest about the place have really been a history of the world.


Outside Bedlam and inside, the controversy of the mentally ill do not just apply today. Registered private madhouses, publicly funded or care in the community how can the “insane” be cured? Speaking on a rarely personal level about this, I suffer depression, it comes in bouts, it can be extreme or mild. I can have the majority of the symptoms controlled by fluoxetine which also aids the companion to my depression, OCD. Most people that meet me say they cannot tell, I have to politely point out that unlike a missing arm, a blind eye to injury or an obvious disease with symptoms mental illness still faces good and bad days as an illness.


So let’s take it back a bit, with such a troublesome irk as myself who cannot possibly function without the intervention of a quack Bethlehem it is! Of course those “ignorant do-gooders” outside often thought there would be a better way to deal with it. Partly from fear of the unknown it’s pretty simple to think that everyone in a madhouse is literally sat there rocking, hair half pulled out, drawing over the walls with pens or blood and picking at scabs… yes the plight of the mad from a media sense really hit the news. Made all the more poignent by an attempt to burn down Bedlam to allow the “prisoners” out.


Some genuinely would have been misplaced, there is no argument there but others might be in need of being detained for their own good. When the rioters hit the streets all of this became background noise just like the recent riots. The effects on the mass populous and the damges to property, alongside controlling the situation take over.


So how did they fare?


The Gordon Riots – anti-Catholic riots that lasted for a week


  • 40-60,000 people involved
  • 285 rioters were killed
  • 173 injured
  • 139 arrested
  • 12 rioters were imprisoned
  • 25 people were hanged
  • 50 patients from Bedlam handed themselves in rather than face rioters
  • Estimated cost £180,000


The London 2011 Riots – Lasted Two nights in major effect, regards the shooting of 29yr old Mark Duggan


  • Arrests 1802
  • 1st Night, 310
  • People Charged 1032
  • 5 deaths
  • 16 injuries
  • 20800 emergency calls (no telephones in 1780) compared to average 5400 = 400% increase.
  • 2169 calls to the fire stations = 15 times normal amounts
  • Police injured = 44 on the Monday night
  • Minimum cost of the riots over 1 million pounds
  • Specific listed incidents numbered 160

And my next look is likely to be at the Ginhouses…


London’s pretty famous for a variety of reasons but one of the places I read about when I have the time is Bedlam. Bedlam was originally the St Bethlehem Hospital, in 1247 when it opened and was nicknamed Bedlam.

It was a lunatic asylum and possibly one of the first of it’s kind in England, other uses and the word Bedlam is now synonymous with chaos.  So it comes as no surprise that there are many stories roaming around about it, paranormal or otherwise.

Archaeologists were brought in to survey the area with a proposal for Crossrail tunnelling. The bodies have been removed for study. It has posed interest on a macabre level because of the bodies being found uncoffined and there could be thousands in numbers. It’s a significant number of patients and their stories which will hopefully be brought to life via the London Museum at some point.

From opening it’s door it accepted the “insane” and did so as a Religious priory until Henry VIII managed to close them, 1547 it shut it’s doors only to be refounded as a Hospital which in 1598 was reported as full of squalor and neglect.

With decaying buildings, a cesspit threatening to overflow and unchecked drains it would have been a horrific place. The patients hardly faired any better either with iron restraints, buckets of water and the lash being used to control them.

The howls of the patients were enough to drive other men just as mad, the notoriety of the place made it a tourist attraction. It was possible to pay a penny to walk through the place and to witness it first hand.

London faced a realistic crisis of the dead overcrowding the city, the graveyards were at crisis point. Gatherings from Graveyards is a book that was in response to the crisis and in graphic detail for the time is given a unique look into the problem. There is a distinct possibility that the numbers of dead there are brought to the graveyard as they have space. The reason this is more likely is also that Bedlam was a hospital and like any other they would discharge patients or the bodies could be sent to the deceased’s local parish instead.

I am told that there is a series about this place and that it’s based on ghosts and hauntings. For every real historical situation someone will find a reason to use it for a TV series eh! Personally I think a Lovecraftian or Poe style story based on it would be brilliant so if you know any do pass them my way.