Old Operating Theatre Museum & Herb Garret

Museum in The South Bank

This unique museum, 32 steps up a spiral stairway in the tower of St Thomas Church (1703), is the unlikely home of Britain's oldest operating theatre. Rediscovered in 1956, the garret was used by the apothecary of St Thomas’s Hospital to store medicinal herbs. The museum looks back at the horror of 19th-century medicine – all pre-anaesthetic and pre-antiseptic. You can browse the natural remedies, including snail water for venereal disease, and recoil at the fiendish array of amputation knives and blades.

There are talks on Victorian surgery and medicine preparation on Saturdays at 2pm and tours of the museum are held at noon on Sundays; book ahead. National Trust members get a 50% discount on admission. The museum was recently refurbished and reopened in early 2018.


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