Barmy Balmes House


Barmy Balmes House

This is where the term Barmy was coined from an old asylum

Location: Downham Road, Hackney, London

Description: This is where the old lunatic asylum Balmes House used to be, and probably where the soft term for crazy 'barmy' was derived from.

1540 Balmes House, or Baume's House (north of Hoxton), was built about 1540. It was named after its founders, two brothers who were Spanish merchants. In 1631 it was Sir George Whitmore's house. In 1680 it was bought by Richard de Beauvoir. In the 1750s it was taken over by Dr Meyer Low Schomberg for use as a private madhouse.

The De Beauvoir family, however, seem to have retained ownership of the estate.

The house is now sadly long gone.

Themes: HistoricalHistorical Theme  QuirkyQuirky Theme
Barmy Balmes House

This is where the term Barmy was coined from an old asylum

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According to these: http://www.word-detective.com/032404.html http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=barmy&searchmode=none barmy was in use as meaning excited/irrational around 1600. Yet Balmes House wasnt a madhouse until long after this. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=45255 The linked article and several others link it to the word for froth on beer, which has been around longer, so this seems like a far more likely origin. (Peter)
Posted by Peter on 2010-10-05

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