The Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garret

The Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garret

No visit to London is complete without an exploration of an area we haven’t visited before with the children. Earlier this Summer we decided on Cheapside and Sothwark enabling us to take in The Globe, the Shard, the Tate Modern, St Paul’s and some vibrant food markets. Of course it also provided me with ample opportunity to wax lyrical about ‘local boy’ Geoffrey Chaucer and Ian to pull out of the hat a visit to a museum I had no idea existed. However with two aspiring doctors in the family, it was a ‘must see’.

A few minutes’ walk from London Bridge tube station The Old Operating Theatre Museum is the oldest example of its kind in Europe and has a large and somewhat gory collection of surgical instruments which kept our would-be medics fascinated for a couple of hours. Located atmospherically up a windy wooden staircase in the quirky, herb garret of St Thomas’ Church, it tells the story of early surgery and medical training at St Thomas’s hospital. There are two main parts to the museum. The first is their permanent collection of items, including extensive information on herbal medicine, which kept me fully absorbed. The second is the operating theatre itself in which an extremely engaging and knowledgeable guide (wearing the most magnificent pair of Doc Martens I have ever seen), drew a vivid picture of early surgical medicine.

Certainly worth a visit – even if you don’t have a desire to practice medicine or a keen interest in medicinal herbs. Then you can nip along to the Tate Modern and spend an hour or two wondering if some of it really is ‘Art’. 🙂