Sunday, June 6, 2010

London's Old Operating Theatre

The Old Operating Theatre Museum is one of the most unusual museums in London. The Operating Theatre is the oldest in Europe, and the Herb Garret is a unique chance to explore the Roof space of a Church. The Theatre and Garret have recently been restored with its original Georgian plaster free of support frames for the first time since the late 1990's!-The Old Operating Theatre

Ah those crazy Victorians. Back in the good old days medicine was more an art than a science. A bit of herbal mixture and maybe a quick, or not so quick, pass with a saw. I have always had a soft spot for Herbalists and the Herb Garret here seems to be an interesting place for the medicinal plant lover.

The Old Operating Theatre Museum & Herb Garret is one of London's specialist museums, offering a fascinating lookt into the medical profession of the past. Hidden in the roof of St Thomas’ Church near London Bridge Underground, this 300-year old herb garret houses Britain’s only surviving operating theatre-complete with wooden operating table and observation stands, from which spectators witnessed surgery performed with no anaesthesia or antiseptics.

The Museum has objects relating to: Obstetrics, Midwifery, Surgical Instruments, Cupping and Bleeding, Nursing and Patient Care, Anaesthesia, Antiseptic surgery, Apothecaries and Herbal Medicine, St. Thomas's, Guy's and the Evelina Children's Hospital. The odds and ends taken from patients bodies include bullets and stones of one sort or another.

The more disturbing items for me are the Scarificator and Brass Cupping Lamp sets used for bleeding patients which are made as if they were actual scientific instruments instead of the worst sort of quack medicine. On the other hand, many of the surgical tools bare at least a passing resemblance to surgical tools of today and some appear completely unchanged. Of course, many also look as if they would be right at home in The Tower's torture chamber.

The Old Operating Theatre, Museum and Herb Garret, 9a St Thomas's St, London SE1

Phone: 020 7188 2679
Daily: 10.30-17.00
Cost:£5.25; concessions £4.25; under 16s £3
Closed: 15 December - 5 January Telephone the Museum for details and dates of special presentations.

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