The word "Bedlam" comes from the name of the Bethlem Royal Psychiatric Hospital. At first it was the hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem, which was built in London at the beginning of the Middle Ages, and was retrained as a hospital for the mentally ill only in 1547.
So the English word Bedlam comes from the English. Bethlehem - Bethlehem, as the people called it "Hospital Bethlem" or simply - "Bedlam". Over time, the name Bedlam became a household name, at first - a synonym for an insane asylum, and later - a word for extreme confusion and disorder.
Later the word "bedlam" became a household word. They were designated as disorder, confusion - which, in general, is quite typical for an insane asylum.
Insane people, lunatics and other mentally ill people were brought to Bedlam from all over England.
By 1900, about a hundred thousand (!) Psychiatric hospitals were built in England, similar to Bedlam. Most of them were private and looked more like prisons than clinics. Bedlam among them was the worst in terms of conditions of detention.
The first mentions of madmen in Bedlam date back to the early 15th century. At that time, the clinic held six crazy men who were shackled with eleven chains and several shackles.
By the 17th century, the number of Bedlam prisoners had grown dramatically. The violent ones were also chained here. Donald Lupton, who visited Bedlam in 1630, described the sounds familiar to the hospital in this way - "crying, squealing, roaring, swearing, clanking of chains ..."
At one time, Charlie Chaplin's mother, Hannah Chaplin, was held in Bedlam.
Bedlam also became a tourist attraction in the 18th century. The guests of London were first shown the Tower, London Bridge and the city zoo, and then they were led to gawk at the famous insane. Bedlam's patients included playwright Nathaniel Lee, Oliver Cromwell's personal doorman, artist Richard Dadd, and others.
It is interesting that in 1815 the Betlem Hospital was completely renovated. A gigantic asylum for the mentally ill was built on this place - they were not kept in chains or starved to death.
In July 1790, the institution was visited by the Russian writer and historian N. M. Karamzin, colorfully describing it in his "Letters of a Russian Traveler" (1791):
“The pre-long galleries are divided by an iron lattice: women on one side, men on the other. The first ones surrounded us in the corridor, they examined us with great attention, they began to speak among themselves at first quietly, then louder and louder, and finally, they screamed so hard that it was necessary to cover our ears. One took my hand, the other by the bunch, the third wanted to blow the powder off my head - and there was no end to their caresses. Meanwhile, some sat deep in thought ... Many of the men made us laugh. Someone imagines himself as a cannon and incessantly fills with his mouth; the other roars like a bear and walks on all fours. The madmen sit in particular; others are chained to the wall. One of them laughs incessantly and calls people to him, saying: "I am happy! Come to me; I will breathe bliss into you!" But whoever comes up will be bitten. - The order in the house, cleanliness, service and looking after the unfortunate are worthy of surprise. Baths are made between the rooms, warm and cold, with which doctors treat them. Many recover, and upon graduation, everyone receives needlessly needed medicines to strengthen the soul and body ... "
Bedlam is the oldest mental health institution in Europe, still operating today. In 1997, it celebrated its 750th anniversary, in 2008 a new building with 89 beds was opened in the hospital, and in 2015 its own museum was opened, where visitors and tourists can learn about the history of the hospital and familiarize themselves with the life and work of patients.