The Bedlam was a public nursing institution for mentally ill people. The Bedlam, which was started in 1762, was probably a place for the keeping rather than the nursing of the ill. Either way it was an improvement to the care offered to the mentally ill in the past – the basement under the Town Hall, right next to the prison.
Newly built in 1762, the Bedlam was a one-story brick house, containing four cells. There was room for one patient in each cell. In 1778 another floor was added to the building, giving room for four new patients. In 1815 the patients were given more room to move around in – a meadow was bought and turned into a garden. The garden was meant to be a walking area for the patients.
“Interior and treatment was of such a character that it would deprive the unfortunates who ended up here their little remaining sanity, rather than to restore whatever was left of it.”
Det another reconstruction was made in 1821. Apparently the cells were divided to give room for twice as many patients as before. Twelve years later most of the patients were transferred to the new Bergen Mental Hospital, which was commonly known as “the Mental House”. Only the permanently ill patients remained in the Bedlam.Contemporaries described the Bedlam as something less than pleasant for mentally ill people: “Interior and treatment was of such a character that it would deprive the unfortunates who ended up here their little remaining sanity, rather than to restore whatever was left of it.”
The Bedlam was situated in the garden of Bergen Civil Hospital on Engen. None of the buildings remain today.