Tarihi İşkence ve Ölümlerle Dolu Olan Bir Saray: İngiltere’nin En Korkunç Akıl Hastanesi Bedlam

The Shocking History of Bedlam Asylum

Bethlem Royal Hospital, popularly known as “Bedlam”, was established with a very humane philosophy to help everyone in need… However, the Middle Ages was one of the most terrifying periods in history, especially for the mentally ill. The hospital, which moved away from its founding philosophy in a short time, became a place where patients were constantly humiliated, turned into an exhibition object and subjected to horrific torture! Despite this, the number of patients in the hospital has reached incredible proportions. For this reason, a new hospital was built. However, this new place, built as if to cover up the events inside, was no different than a “palace”. Yet this “palace” would not be enough to hide Bedlam’s terrible history…

Founding of Bedlam Mental Hospital


Bethlem Royal Hospital, or Bedlam Asylum, as it is commonly known, was founded in the mid-13th century by a cult following the teachings of St. Mary of Bethlem. Through the sect’s efforts, a monastery was built in 1247 to create “a sanctuary for all who cannot care for themselves.”

In the Middle Ages, it was quite common for the mentally ill to be abandoned by their families and ostracized by society. For this reason, the monastery soon became home to many mentally ill people. The number of mental patients in Bethlem continued to increase with each passing day. Finally, at the end of the 14th century, it ceased to be a haven for anyone unable to care for themselves and earned the title of England’s “first” mental hospital…

Bethlem’s transformation into a “palace”…


Bethlem Asylum, the first mental hospital in England, was not just a place where the mentally ill were “treated”. The British society of the period wanted to close everyone that they “didn’t want to see on the street” here. For this reason, people with physical disabilities, the poor and criminals were condemned to live in Bethlem, along with many mentally ill people. Bethlem’s ever-increasing number of patients made it inevitable that a new building be built…

As a result, a new site for the hospital was built in the 1600s. Moreover, this newly built place was not an ordinary hospital building, but a magnificent “palace!” This new place, with its stunning gardens and magnificent walkways, was called the “palace of the mad”…

“Palace of the insane” as a form of entertainment

The palace was supposedly a symbol of the care and benevolence given to the sick. But the reality was not like that at all… The real reason for building a palace for the sick was to attract more “visitors” to the hospital! Because the hospital covered a significant part of its expenses with the money it received from the “visitors” who came to “watch” the patients here! According to today’s estimates, about 100,000 people a year go to the hospital to see the sick!

The patients were forced to make “weird moves” so that the visitors could “have more fun”! On the other hand, not only the living patients, but also the people who lost their lives were part of this “entertainment”. The inhuman experiments on the dead bodies of the patients were also followed with interest by the visitors.

A palace full of tortures


The palace, which was built to hide the brutality and inhuman conditions inside, is enough to remove Bethlem’s notoriety. Although Bethlem Asylum had turned into a “palace”, terrible events continued to happen inside!

For example, one of the most common ‘cure methods’ was the prolonged ‘rotation’ of patients in a chair suspended from the ceiling. It was believed that thanks to this method, people would be cured of mental illness!

In addition, many patients spent most of their day in chains. On the other hand, “beating” and “starving” were among the leading treatment methods. Countless people exposed to these “treatments” were getting sicker and dying more and more.

The bodies of deceased patients were used in the “cadaver trade” to contribute to the “budget of the palace”! In addition, studies and experiments were carried out on the bodies of patients, which are unacceptable today.

The transformation and demolition of the palace into “Bedlam”…

For these reasons, the word “bedlam”, which means “confusion” and “chaos”, emerged in England. The word is also used from time to time for any bad situation. Later, the hospital became known by this name…

However, the palace’s body was “rotten,” just like its soul. The palace was demolished in 1815 due to cracks in its exterior and problems in its foundation! Thus, one of the scariest and most spectacular mental hospitals in the world has disappeared… However, traces of the hospital’s dark past can be found even today. During an excavation in 2013, dozens of mass graves thought to belong to hospital patients were found!

Current status of Bedlam


Bedlam Asylum, England’s first and most spectacular mental hospital, continues to exist even today, despite all its bad legacy! This time, however, “unpretentious but in a good way…”

After the hospital was demolished in 1815, it continued its activities in different regions and different buildings. Today, Bedlam is trying to “really” help the mentally ill in a rural area of ​​England, in order to forget the bad memories of the past…

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