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Monday, 20 September 2010

It's like collecting blue plaques in Nazi Germany

As Eddie would say...
We had a really good Saturday taking the Liverpool St. train a little before 9 and arrived in 10.15 in good time for the Immigrants London walk which started from the Bishopsgate entrance to Liverpool Street station. Fortunately we found our guide in good time. Theres a blue plaque actually on Liverpool Street station dedicated to the first Bethlehem hospital (1247-1676). It's recognised as the worlds first institute for psychiatric disorders. Its also where we get the word Bedlam from whhich speaks volumes as to the conditions that the unfortunates there undewent. It started as a religious institute, a priory run by the Order of the Star of Bethlehem. It firsat became a hospital in 1337 and first admitted psychiatric patients in 1357. Early sixteenth century maps show the hospital as a few stone buildings grouped around a courtyard, a church and a garden. The "care" provided there was shall we say minimal. Patients were routinely manacled to the floor, the lucky ones were licenced to beg . It was a royal hospital but administered by the corporation of London and managed by the governor of Bridewell. The other plaque in Liverpool Street station is rather more recent and depicts five children surrounded by parcels and bags at ground level. Behind them are the train tracks that have brought them to this point. Train tracks that began in Berlin, Leipzig, Mannheim, Hamburg, Vienna, Prague.
The story continues soon

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