Bedlam at Bethlem
Bethlem Hospital has been a part of London since 1247. It began admitting mental patients in 1357. The inmates were referred to as “unfortunates." Conditions were dreadful. The lack of proper sewerage facilities resulted in unmitigated filth that served as a fertile breeding ground for all manner of disease. While many patients were given freedom of movement throughout the facility during the day, violent or dangerous patients were routinely chained to the floor or wall. The hospital became notorious for the brutal ill-treatment of the mentally ill. Circumstances in the institution were so chaotic that Bethlem earned the nickname “Bedlam.”
Six photographs of female patients at Bethlem from the 1800s are shown. With the use of a pendulum, a spectator makes a connection with one of the women. She is asked to remember the patient’s name, and the six photographs are placed in a box representing the hospital.
Next, six male patients’ photographs are shown. The spectator selects one of these photos, this time via visualization of a number, as emitting the aura of a murder victim. His killer is potentially identified jointly by the spectator and the performer. The accuracy of their selections is verified with a newspaper clipping from the period.
The performer now explains that it was difficult to escape the clutches of Bethlem once admitted there. However, once in a while one might find a way out. He asks the spectator the name of the woman with whom she previously made a connection. The box is opened, and the photos are removed. The box is closed, and the photos are counted. Only five are present! Was one left behind? The box is opened again, but no photo is found. Instead, a discharge certificate is found for the woman with whom the spectator had preciously made a connection. The five photos are examined, and lo and behold, the woman in question is the missing one!
What you receive: -
- Six handmade photos of female patients at Bethlem (one of which is shimmed and marked)
- Six handmade photos of male patients at Bethlem (one of which is marked and another of which is shimmed)
- One pendulum made from an old English penny
- One aged newspaper clipping
- One aged discharge certificate
- One PK ring
- One switch box with shimmed flap
- One instruction booklet, complete with suggested patter, printed on parchment-like paper