London Metropolitan Archives - Item Details


Date of Creation:

1675 - 1859

Reference Code:


Scope and Content:
  • Records of Bethlem Hospital, 1675-1859, including printed notice, issued by the Governors, seeking subscriptions for the erection of a new hospital in St. George's Fields and other papers relating to the removal to St. George's Fields; instructions for persons applying for the admission of patients into Bethlem Hospital, 1859; rules and orders of Bethlem Hospital, 1854; various other administrative papers.
Extent: 0.2 linear metres
Classification: CITY OF LONDON
Site Location: London Metropolitan Archives
Level of Description:

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Administrative History:
  • Bethlem Royal Hospital was founded in 1247 as the priory of St Mary of Bethlehem. By the fourteenth century it was already treating the insane. In 1547 it came under the control of the City of London as one of the five 'Royal' hospitals seized during the dissolution of the monasteries and re-founded as a secular institution. The Corporation turned Bethlem into a lunatic asylum and it was commonly known as 'Bedlam'. The hospital was put under joint administration with Bridewell Hospital until 1948.

    In 1676 the hospital moved to Moorfields, in a baroque building designed by Robert Hooke. The hospital moved to its third site in 1815, at St George's Fields, Southwark, part of which still survives as the Imperial War Museum.

    Bethlem moved to a site in Surrey in 1930. With the introduction of the National Health Service in 1948, Bethlem was split from Bridewell and joined with the Maudsley Hospital Camberwell, to form a single hospital. In 1999 they were formed into the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, which provides mental health services throughout Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham and Croydon as well as specialist services across the UK.
Copyright: City of London
Source of Acquisition:
  • Corporation of London Records Office
Access Restrictions: These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 2018
Physical Condition: Fit
Arrangement: In sections according to catalogue
Related Material: For further records of Bethleme Royal Hospital see CLC/275.

The Bethlem Royal Hospital Archives and Museum Service hold the majority of the records of Bethlem Hospital, contact them at: Archives and Museum, Bethlem Royal Hospital, Monks Orchard Road, Beckenham, Kent, BR3 3BX.
For Corporation of London records relating to hospitals, almshouses and workhouses, see CLA/064: Almshouses and Hospitals, CLA/066: Bridewell Hospital, CLA/067: Christ's Hospital, CLA/068: Royal Hospitals, CLA/069: Saint Thomas' Hospital, CLA/070: Saint Bartholomew's Hospital, CLA/071: Emanuel Hospital, CLA/075: London Workhouse, COL/CC/EHC: Court of Common Council Emanuel Hospital Committee, COL/CC/LUC: Court of Common Council Lunatic Asylum Committee, COL/CC/RHC: Court of Common Council Royal Hospitals Committee, COL/CHD/IC: Chamberlain's Department: Institutions and Courts, COL/CT: Charities, and COL/PL, COL/PLD/PL, COL/SVD/PL and COL/TSD/AD for building plans. There are also various papers in the Corporation of London collection relating to public health. See the Hospital Records Database on The National Archives website for the locations of hospital records held in other repositories.