There’s another chance to catch the History Channel’s recent documentary “Bedlam – the History of Bethlem Hospital” this week. The show, first aired in March this year, will be repeated on Sunday 9 May at 8pm (repeated Monday 10 May at midnight and 9am) and features interviews with leading historians of psychiatry, as well as exhibits from the Museum and Archives.
Look out for the statues of “Raving and Melancholy Madness” in the background of some of the interviews. These magnificent stone figures, on display in the Museum, were made by sculptor Caius Gabriel Cibber and prominently displayed at the gates of seventeenth century Bethlem in Moorfields, where they were much admired in contemporary descriptions. When the Hospital moved to St George’s Fields in 1815, the graphic depictions of madness were moved to the entrance hall, but kept behind a curtain, presumably to avoid disturbing patients and their visitors! In 1858 the statues were moved to the South Kensington Museum (later the V&A), and only returned to Bethlem in 1970.
If you don’t have access to Sky TV, video excerpts from the programme are available on the History Channel website. Or come and see the statues in the Museum in person!