Bethlem Museum of the Mind


Monks Orchard Road, Beckenham, Kent, BR3 3BX


020-3228 4227



Opening times:

10:00-17:00 Mon-Tue (pre-booked groups 10+ only)
10:00-17:00 (last entry 16:30) Wed-Fri (public)
10:00-17:00 (last entry 16:30) Saturday (first and last of the month)

How to get there:

Station: Eden Park, East Croydon

Entry fee:


The Bethlem Royal Hospital museum was established in 1970 as part of the combined Bethlem Royal Hospital and Maudsley Hospital, a postgraduate psychiatric teaching hospital and was relaunched in 2015 as “Bethlem Museum of the Mind”. Bethlem is the original ‘Bedlam’, founded in 1247 as a priory hospital which, by 1377, was caring for ‘distracted’ patients. The art collection specialises in works by artists who have suffered from mental health problems, many of whom were patients at Bethlem. The most important and prized items are works by the Victorian artist Richard Dadd, best known for his meticulous and intricate fairy paintings. By 1843 Dadd was suffering periods of delusion and unpredictable violence, which culminated in the premeditated murder of his father in Cobham Park. In 1844 he was admitted to the criminal lunatic department of Bethlem Hospital, then located at St George’s Fields, Southwark (the central part of which is now the Imperial War Museum). Isolated from the world and never fully to regain his reason, Dadd continued to paint, an occupation which sustained him for the next 40 years until his death in 1886 at Broadmoor Hospital, where he had been transferred in 1864. The museum also has works by Jonathan Martin, the brother of the more famous John Martin, painter of the apocalyptic sublime. Jonathan Martin achieved celebrity in 1829 when he set fire to York Minster, after which he was committed to Bethlem for the rest of his life. Also on show are two 17th-century sculptures, Raving and Melancholy Madness, powerfully realistic nudes which once decorated the entrance gates to Bethlem Hospital’s new 1675–76 building in Moorfields. The sculptures are the best and most famous surviving works of the Danish-English sculptor Caius Gabriel Cibber, who worked for a time under Sir Christopher Wren, notably at Hampton Court.

(first and last of the month)

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Details below are taken from our Blue Guide Museums and Galleries of London.  This is a 2005 title, here generally updated for website address and opening times, with useful comments from some of the museums themselves.  More recent information is given in Emily Barber's magisterial new Blue Guide London, "Exceptional update to a classic and useful guide to this amazing city" (Amazon reader review).

FULL LISTING of CURRENT EXHIBITIONS in London from Apollo Magazine »

Emily Barber recommends five major London museums »

Please do share your comments and updates with us via the form below the entry for each museum.


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