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The Old Operating Theater Museum

9A St Thomas' Street Southmark
London SE1 9RY
United Kingdom
Karen Howell, Curator
+0207 188 2679
44 0207 188 2679
Fax: +0207 378 8383

The Museum exists in the roof of St Thomas Church London, which is a Grade 2* building built in 1703. When closed in 1862 due to the relocation of St Thomas' Hospital, to Lambeth, London, the hospital architecture was missing from history and for nearly one hundred years until its rediscovery in 1956. This public museum consists of Herb Garret and the Women's Operating Theatre of Old St Thomas' Hospital built in 1822 and holds displays on the history of medicine and herb use of the old (United) Guy's and St Thomas' Hospitals, London. Displays on the history of medicine contain more than 1,000 nineteenth century surgical and pharmaceutical objects. A panoramic film is available online alongside some objects of the museums' is accessible via the Museum's website .


The Museum does not have its own archive on site. The Museum exists in the roof of a church and consists of the eighteenth century oak beamed Herb Garret and nineteenth century women's Operating Theatre of Old St Thomas' Hospital. The Old Operating Theatre was in use from 1822-62, for women patients only and due to its dates, saw little use of anaesthesia. No antiseptic procedure or hand washing was ever undertaken in the theater. The Museum holds over 1,000 historical medical instruments including: a nineteenth century wooden operating table, a nineteenth century carbolic spray used at Guy's Hospital, nineteenth century amputation, trephination, obstetric and anaesthetic instruments and equipment. The collection also holds late nineteenth century anatomical teaching models and nineteenth century pharmaceutical equipment from carboys shop rounds through to pill making. Some archive material is accessible via the Museum website.

Subject Strengths:
History of Hospitals; History of Medicine; History of Pharmacology and Pharmacy; History of Surgery; Materia Medica
Last Updated:
30 May 2017