About The Old Operating Theatre
The operating theatre was used in the days before anaesthetics and general hygiene. It had good natural light, being higher up, and offered good sound proofing from the screams.
In 1815 the Apothecary's Act required apprentice apothecaries to attend at public hospitals so this was a popular place for students to watch operations. The majority of cases dealt with here were for amputations and alcohol or opiates were all that was used to prepare the patient.
In 1862, St Thomas's Hospital moved from this site to Lambeth. Much of the old hospital was demolished, but the female operating theatre lay forgotten in the roof of this church. It was eventually rediscovered in 1956.
It's most unusual to enter a museum by climbing a spiral staircase but this is the only way up so be prepared.
I visited when I had a one day London Pass so I didn't have to pay the admission. (Find out more about the London Pass.)
It's quite a small venue but I visited with a nurse and we had lots to talk about comparing the medical instruments on display with modern day equivalents. The venue was the Herb Garret for St Thomas's Church and was used by the St Thomas's Apothecary to store and cure herbs so there are lots of herbs on display and you can discover their medicinal properties. There are also preserved body parts and medicines that help us understand the work that was done here.
I found staff very friendly and were able to help with questions about specific exhibits on display.
There's a small shop with local history books, toys and souvenirs.