Londoners have a reputation for eccentricity but just a few hundred years ago, things were far crazier and we were considered to have the highest percentage of ‘mad’ people of any city in Europe.
Clerkenwell and the East End became the places to house asylums or mad houses, including Europe’s oldest psychiatric hospital, Little Bethlem, also known as Bedlam. To be mad wasn’t all bad, in fact, it became fashionable during the reign of George III. Learn the origins of such phrases as ‘going round the bend’ and ‘mad as a hatter’ and why men cannot be hysterical, plus the weird and wonderful ways madness was treated. Gin’s popularity in the 18th century led to an increase in the number of cases of insanity in the working class population. It’s a drink with a dark history and could be considered a poison. With over 1,000 stills in the square mile of the City of London, life got madder and badder than it ever had before.
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