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The forgotten people

PUBLISHED: 16:45 27 January 2010 | UPDATED: 10:22 12 August 2010

EXHIBITION: Curator Rebecca Morrison

EXHIBITION: Curator Rebecca Morrison

ONE of the oldest psychiatric hospitals in Europe is hosting an exhibition chronicling the way the sick and the poor were treated at a time without a welfare state. Bethlem Royal Hospital in Monks Orchard Road, Beckenham, is hosting Lost London: Forgot

EXHIBIT: Bethlem Royal Hospital

ONE of the oldest psychiatric hospitals in Europe is hosting an exhibition chronicling the way the sick and the poor were treated at a time without a welfare state.

Bethlem Royal Hospital in Monks Orchard Road, Beckenham, is hosting Lost London: Forgotten Places, Forgotten People, which opened last Thursday and will run until Saturday, February 12.

The venue, from which the term Bedlam comes, is exhibiting engravings from the 18th and 19th centuries tracing the "lunatics, debtors and petty criminals" through the capital's hospitals and prisons.

The 100 works, donated by behavioral neurology professor Michael Trimble, chart the history of historical institutions, asylums and almshouses.

Curator of the exhibition, Rebecca Morrisson, said: "The underlying theme of the exhibition is to show some of the places that offered refuge to those disenfranchised from society because of poverty, illness or other misfortune in a time before state provision."

The images take the viewer on an evocative journey through the streets of the capital, where once stood imposing institutions dedicated to the vulnerable in society.

Stories of those people who inhabited these places have also been unearthed.

Now, institutions such as those featured in the exhibitions, have become more generic and neutral.

Some of the buildings on display, have now been turned into luxury flats, offices, Post Offices and a Pizza Express.

The 19th century hospital, which housed Bethlem Royal Hospital, became the Imperial War Museum near Waterloo, after the service was moved into its fourth site in Bromley in 1930.

The original hospital was founded in 1247 and stood on the site occupied by Liverpool Street station and by the 14th century was specialising in mental health. This included restraining patients with handcuffs and chains.

Opening times for the exhibition are Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, 11am until 6pm, including Saturday February 6.

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