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Bethlem (Bedlam) Royal Hospital worth a visit?

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Bethlem (Bedlam) Royal Hospital worth a visit?

Hi all. We are a small group of university students traveling to London in March to learn about the field of psychology in England. Would you recommend a visit to Bethlem Royal Hospital? Of course this hospital has rich history, but is the associated museum worth the trek out to Kent? I'm excited to see it as long as it's worth the hassle of getting there.

Thanks for sharing your input!

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1. Re: Bethlem (Bedlam) Royal Hospital worth a visit?

What you describe as 'the trek out to Kent' does not amount to as much of a trek as you are perhaps imagining, and nor is it really Kent.

The hospital is located in the London Borough of Bromley, which forms part of Greater London. Historically, this part of what is now Greater London was a part of Kent, and it retains Beckenham as its post town. You may have seen that on the website for the archives and museum (www.bethlemheritage.org.uk/contact-Us.asp) 'Kent' is included in the address. This is technically incorrect, as counties are now not supposed to be included in UK addresses.

The best way of reaching the hospital from central London is to take the train from London Charing Cross or London Cannon Street to Eden Park on the Hayes (Kent) line (the destination is still identified as such in order to distinguish it from Hayes and Harlington on the opposite side of London). The train journey takes 32 or 33 minutes from the two London terminuses (or as my spell check would have it 'termini') respectively. It is then a walk of approximately 15 minutes to the hospital.

I understand that the museum is currently undergoing major improvements, but I am not sure what stage those improvements have reached. I know that one of the new exhibits is going to include part of a padded cell. Again, I don't know whether this is yet in place. You could probably get a better idea about what you are likely to get out of a visit by emailing the curator: bethlemheritage@gmail.com.

London
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2. Re: Bethlem (Bedlam) Royal Hospital worth a visit?

You may also be interested in:

Freud Museum: http://www.freud.org.uk

Langdon Down Museum of Learning Disability: http://langdondownmuseum.org.uk

Science Museum: sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughttolife/themes/me… and sciencemuseum.org.uk/visitmuseum/Plan_your_v…

More generally, see here: http://www.medicalmuseums.org

Essex
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3. Re: Bethlem (Bedlam) Royal Hospital worth a visit?

Of course the Imperial War Museum is in the old Bethlem Hospital building.

Which I always think is rather apt for a museum documenting the craziness of war....

London, United...
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4. Re: Bethlem (Bedlam) Royal Hospital worth a visit?

If you decide to visit the Bethlem Royal Hospital, exit Eden Park station via the subway from the platform, cross the road via the pedestrian crossing and turn left away from the Toby Carvery. Walk up the road to the roundabout and turn right, the entrance to the hospital is quite a way up on the right hand side. Alternatively if a 356 bus comes along that will take you there - if memory serves me right it is 3 stops.

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5. Re: Bethlem (Bedlam) Royal Hospital worth a visit?

I would dispute the suggested that counties are "not supposed" to be included in postal addresses. They are, rather, "optional" these days. As such, those of us who enjoy writing our county names will continue to do so !

county-wise.org.uk/2012/…

Mike

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6. Re: Bethlem (Bedlam) Royal Hospital worth a visit?

The GPO (as it was at the time) were asked after the creation of Greater London, if all addresses in the new county could have 'London' as the Post Town, and new London postcodes. The GPO declined as the cost of doing so would have been phenomenal.

Unlike argyle-mikey, I never use counties (administrative, historical, ceremonial or otherwise) when addressing letters.

Edited: 26 February 2014, 10:13
London
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7. Re: Bethlem (Bedlam) Royal Hospital worth a visit?

There is an interesting article on postal counties here: …wikipedia.org/wiki/Postal_counties_of_the_U…

It is my understanding that if you ask Royal Mail for their preferred form of a UK postal address (e.g. here: http://www.royalmail.com/postcode-finder) that preferred form of address will not include the postal, or any other, county. Of course, if you still want to include the county in an address that is fine, and your letters and so on will be delivered just the same. It won't make any difference to how Royal Mail sorts and delivers, but it may make a difference to the sender and/or receiver. I think that the attachment to counties is something that is often hard to grasp if one lives in a large city such as London. I used to share an office with a gentleman who had been educated at Abingdon School, Royal County of Berkshire, and had never come to terms with the transfer to Oxfordshire that had taken place some three decades earlier.

London, United...
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8. Re: Bethlem (Bedlam) Royal Hospital worth a visit?

Whilst you're here - consider popping into the Wellcome museum near Euston, especially if they have a special exhibit on. If you like medical history, you'll love it there.

The science museum has a free little exhibit on the history of psychology on at the moment - which is good if you know nothing about the history of psychology but maybe slightly abridged if you do... Regardless, it's good and free and fairly short (40 mins to do), so consider it. It's a temporary exhibit - do check if it's still running.

Also, those trains to Eden Park (the ones that terminate at Hayes (Kent)) also stop at London Bridge (and some of them) at Waterloo East next to Waterloo station. They are fairly regular during the week (every 15-20 mins) and every 20-30 mins late evenings and weekends.

Southern California
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9. Re: Bethlem (Bedlam) Royal Hospital worth a visit?

Wow! Thank you to all for posting- very generous! Also, I learned some about your postal code system. The Freud Museum and the Science Museum are already in the cards, for those reading the blog here's what's on at the Science Museum now (Feb. 2014):

sciencemuseum.org.uk/visitmuseum_old/galleri…

sciencemuseum.org.uk/visitmuseum/Plan_your_v…

Also going to the National History Museum:

nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/…

I was interested to hear of the Langdon Down Museum of Learning Disability. The website is compelling- if only we had more time!

I e-mailed the Bethlem Royal Hospital museum a couple weeks ago and never received a response. Your replies are very encouraging and I'll pursue it further. My student's and I would never forget an experience in a padded cell. Thank you all!

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10. Re: Bethlem (Bedlam) Royal Hospital worth a visit?

Hello again. Actually, at the Bethlem they are not going to reconstruct the padded cell. As I understand it they are just planning to display the interior of the cell on a single flat wall. There are a couple of other museums in the UK that do have reconstructed padded cells, but they are both some distance from London:

wakefieldasylum.co.uk/management-and-treatme…

telegraph.co.uk/travel/…

http://www.glensidemuseum.org.uk/

bristolpost.co.uk/INSIDE-STORY/…story.html

I am surprised that nobody from the museum ever got back to you. I can only suggest getting back to them and hoping that a prompt will elicit a reply.