|Bethlem Royal Hospital||Bromley|
Bethlem Royal Hospital purchased the Monks Orchard estate in 1924 and built the hospital here, moving in 1930. The former C18th/C19th landscape park of Wickham Park, now overlaid with a comprehensive design of early-mid C20th buildings, had extensive grounds. There remain numerous specimen trees, beech-hedged garden areas to the west, notable limes in the park to the south, and horse chestnuts along Monks Orchard Road, which was once part of the estate. The site is fronted to Monks Orchard Road with railings, and to the north with extensive laurel and rhododendron. There were extensive walled gardens to the west with backsheds including a mushroom house, but this became derelict and a new secure unit was built on the site in
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/03/2016
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Bethlem Royal Hospital grounds, May 2016. Photo S Williams
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Landscape gardener William Sawry Gilpin (1762-1843) advised on the layout of the C18th/C19th landscape park of Wickham Park, now much overlaid by early-mid C20th hospital buildings. The Bethlem Royal Hospital was designed by John Cheston and Charles Elcock and was planned to provide 'light, air and space' for patients and staff, with buildings set within the landscape. It consisted originally of four wards in separate buildings with their own catering facilities and gardens, and separate buildings for administration, the nurses' home, a recreation hall, chapel, staff catering facilities and laboratories. In 1948 under new NHS the hospital amalgamated with The Maudsley Hospital in Denmark Hill to form single postgraduate psychiatric teaching hospital.
The first Bethlem Hospital was founded in Bishopsgate in 1247. Originally the Priory of St Mary of Bethlehem, by 1329 it had become a hospital for the sick and by 1403 is known to have housed the mentally ill. Deemed to be too small and the buildings in bad state, a new Bethlem Hospital was built at Moorfields in 1675-76, designed by Robert Hooke. In 1815 the hospital moved again to St George's Fields, Southwark, where it remained until the move to Monks Orchard in 1930. The Southwark building eventually became the Imperial War Museum and the grounds the Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park (q.v.). The famous sculptures of 'Raving and Melancholy Madness' by Caius Gabriel Cibber, which were made for the gates of the 'New Bedlem' hospital in Moorfields are now in the Museum at Monks Orchard. The Museum also has important works from the Bethlem art collection including Richard Dadd, Louis Wain and other artists.
The Walled Garden dating from the early C19th with extensive greenhouses, backsheds, mushroom forcing house, vines etc. was in use by the hospital up until mid 1990s and supplied the hospital with vegetables, fruit. It became much overgrown and its greenhouses semi-derelict, although it was used for gardening projects by the hospital's OT Department. In the early C21st it was built over when River House was constructed, a medium secure forensic unit named as a symbol of a person's journey through illness toward recovery. Adjacent to the south is the old orchard. The grounds near to the mansions are largely built over.
Garden History 22.2, 192; G W Tookey, "The history of the Monk's Orchard estate", Bethlem Maudsley Hospital Gazette, March & July 1957 (LB Croydon Local Studies Library); Patricia Allderidge, 'The Bethlem Royal Hospital: An Illustrated History', The Bethlem and Maudsley NHS Trust, 1995; Patricia Allderidge, 'Bethlem Hospital 1247-1997 A Pictorial Record' (Phillmore & Co. 1997)