By Mark Stevens
Broadmoor published takes the reader on a trip around Victorian England�s felony Lunatic Asylum. Recounting own tales from the place actual crime meets psychological disease, the booklet takes in gunshot at Queen Victoria and poison in Brighton, in addition to the artist Richard Dadd and lexicographer William Chester Minor. A medical institution, no longer a jail: stories of madness, homicide and extra.
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Extra info for Broadmoor Revealed: Victorian Crime and the Lunatic Asylum
This was a delusion that Dadd maintained once he was in Bethlem. He remained convinced that he was on a mission to battle the devil, who could take many forms, including that of Dadd senior, and that the artist formerly known as Richard Dadd was in fact descended from Osiris. Almost immediately that he was confined to Bethlem, Dadd began to paint again, something that, happily, he would continue to do for the next forty years. He appears to have been very insular during his time at Bethlem, and did not associate much with other patients.
Like for Oxford, records of Dadd’s time at Bethlem are available at the Bethlem Royal Hospital archives. It was only after he had been received into custody that some explanation came as to Dadd’s motive for his acts. When he was arrested in France, the police had found on him a list of ‘people who must die’, with his father’s name at the top. A search of his lodgings in England had uncovered various portraits of his friends, all with a bloody slash from the artist added across their throats. Notes from his stay at Clermont Asylum in France indicated that Dadd believed that his father was the devil, and that the son had been commanded by the Egyptian god Osiris to kill both Robert Dadd and other people.
James Hadfield was a young father from London convinced that he needed to secure his own death at the hands of the state. By suffering the same fate as Christ, Hadfield believed that his personal sacrifice would benefit all mankind by ushering in the Second Coming, and the Day of Judgement. This was a fact that would emerge later. For now, Hadfield was restrained in the orchestra pit of the Theatre as pandemonium raged around him. It was clear that Hadfield was mad. Legally, though, he presented a problem.