The Museum cares for the archives of Bethlem Royal Hospital, the Maudsley Hospital and Warlingham Park Hospital. You can browse our archive catalogue to find out what records we hold, and view digital images of selected documents in the catalogue’s gallery section.
Many of our historic staff and patient records have now been digitised and indexed, and these can be accessed by making an appointment to visit our searchroom, or by visiting Find My Past.
Please be aware that the archive catalogue is in the process of development and does not contain details of everything that is held in the archives.
Guide to using the archives
Alongside its rich collections of art and artefacts, Bethlem Museum of the Mind maintains archival holdings of historic mental health records. It is approved by The National Archives as a place of deposit for the institutional records of the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and its predecessors, including:
- Bethlem Hospital itself (the historic 'Bedlam')
- The Maudsley Hospital
- Warlingham Park (formerly Croydon Mental) Hospital
- The joint records of Bridewell and Bethlem Hospitals
These records comprise (among other things) the minutes of governing bodies and committees, annual reports, hospital magazines, accounts, ledgers, salary books, staff records, patient admission and discharge registers, medical records, correspondence, maps and plans, title deeds and photographs.
There is little or nothing in the archives that directly addresses issues such as public attitudes to mental ill-health or changes in the philosophy of mental healthcare. In addition, historic medical records, such as we hold, very rarely record details of decisions made about treatment options or visits made to patients.
The Hospitals never saw it as part of their business to encourage patients or staff in the writing of diaries, memoirs, poetry and prose, and assumed no role in the retention of any such material. Consequently there is little or nothing in the archives by way of first-person accounts of experiences of living and working in hospital settings.
A catalogue of our archival holdings is available to view online. Click here to find out more.
The catalogue contains brief verbal descriptions of the records we hold. You can browse these descriptions, or search for particular words of phrases. However, please note that the catalogue gives descriptions only, not complete accounts of the entire contents of the records themselves.
Yes. Digital images of a small number of records are available to view page by page at our online archives. These include:
- The minutes of the Court of Governors of Bridewell and Bethlem Hospital from 1559 to 1800 (with some gaps) *
- Bethlem Hospital’s patient admission registers from 1683 to 1902
- Bethlem’s annual reports for 1825 and 1842 only
- Photographs of several dozen mid-Victorian patients at Bethlem Hospital
- Sale particulars for the Monks Orchard Estate, to which Bethlem relocated in 1930
- A lantern slide collection maintained by Bethlem Hospital’s chaplain in the early twentieth century
Links to each of these sets of records can be accessed from the online archives by clicking on the orange alpha-numeric references directly under the relevant image.
Please note that the content of these digital images is not transcribed or indexed.
A project is underway to make some of the historic medical and staff records of the Hospital available to view online. Further details will be provided as soon as they are available. In the meantime, a few sample medical and other associated records can be seen at Explore Bethlem - Photo album and Your Hospital.
* Minutes of the Court of Governors from 1689 to 1800 are also available to view online in fully searchable form at www.londonlives.org. Details of how to conduct a name search can be found here. Keyword and other searches are also available.
To access records that are not available online, contact us to make arrangements for a personal visit Bethlem Museum of the Mind.
You may, but contact us in the first instance. It may be that your enquiry can be dealt with remotely. In your enquiry, please include the following details: the name of your ancestor, the nature of the evidence for his or her hospital links, the name of the hospital concerned and dates of admission and discharge.
Bethlem Museum of the Mind is not in a position to help with this sort of enquiry.
To obtain access to recent or contemporary records to which the provisions of the Data Protection Act and/or the law of medical confidence may apply, go to SLAM's Freedom of Information to find the relevant contact details and application form.
My enquiry doesn’t have to do with Bethlem, the Maudsley or Warlingham Park Hospitals. How can I find out whether records of other hospitals survive, and where they are kept?
Bethlem Museum of the Mind’s archival holdings is restricted to the records of Bethlem, the Maudsley and Warlingham Park Hospitals. To find out whether and where records of other hospitals may survive, go to National Archives - Hospital Records, type in the name or location of the hospital, and search that database.