Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Bedlam, a corruption of Bethlehem, the name of a hospital founded and dedicated to St. Mary, in 1247, by Simon FitzMary, a sheriff of London. He built a priory in Moorfields and connected it with the episcopate recently established by the Crusaders in the Holy Land. In 1102 the lunatics in a public asylum at Charing Cross were believed to have been transferred there. In 1546 Henry VIII. gave the hospital to the City, which had already purchased the lands, and it was united to Bridewell. Little is known of the institution until 1675, when a new hospital was built, architecturally a copy of the Tuileries, on the S. side of Moorfields. This is the Bethlehem or Bedlam that was famous in the last century. In 1812 the existing asylum in Lambeth Road was begun from designs by Lewis, but Smirke added the dome. It accommodates 400 patients, who are chosen as far as possible from the curable sufferers from lunacy.