We’re hoping the weather picks up soon for this weekend’s Bethlem site open day – the annual Sunfayre. Open to all, there will be activities on offer for every age group, running throughout the afternoon from 12 – 5pm. Bethlem is one of the oldest psychiatric hospitals in the world, founded in 1247. The current site, at Monks Orchard in Beckenham, opened in 1930: there will be an opportunity to find out more about its history in a repeat of our January exhibition, A Clearer, Bluer Sky, in the Community Centre. There will be a talk on this exhibition at 2pm. In addition, the Archives and Museum will be running regular historical talks and tours, which include a rare opportunity to visit the historic boardroom. Talks will take place in the Education Room, and tours will begin from this point after the final talk.
Exploring the Archives: A chance to read historical case records of 19th century patients, in a session led by Museum staff. Begins at 12.40, 13.40 and 14.40.
Bethlem Patients in the 1850s: A talk focused on the portrait photographs taken of Bethlem patients in the 1850s by society photographer Henry Hering. Begins at 13.00, 14.00 and 15.00.
Historical Tour: Starting at the Education Room, this guided tour will then take in the historic boardroom, before proceeding around the site to the walled garden. Nature walks led by Bromley Council will start at the walled garden shortly after the tour finishes. Tour starts at 13.20, 14.20 and 15.20.
The Museum will also be running a family trail, following clues around the hospital grounds. Pick up a copy at the main entrance: pencils – and prizes! – are available in the Museum, where you can also view our new exhibition on British Outsider Art. The Bethlem Gallery will be open for a chance to visit the fascinating current exhibition, in which artists responded to objects from the museum’s collection. They will also have a stall where art from the Gallery can be purchased. Next door to the Gallery, there will be free art and ceramics workshops, running on an hourly basis throughout the afternoon.
In addition, the day will include children’s rides and activities, including an interactive play – Salty Sue and the Stolen Treasure Map - at 2pm. Bands will play regularly on the main stage in front of the picnic area, and complementary therapies – including Reiki, Indian head massage and hot stone massage – will be on offer in the community centre. For further details of these activities, visit the Sunfayre website.