The Operating Theatre (operating or emergency room) is found in the roof space of an English Baroque Church. At first glance this placement seems bizarre. It makes more sense when it is realised that the wards of the South Wing of St. Thomas’ Hospital were built around St. Thomas’ Church.
Dorcas was the women’s surgical ward. Before 1822, the women were operated on in the ward – this must have caused some considerable distress.
In 1815 the Apothecary’s Act, which required apprentice apothecaries to attend at public hospitals, meant that hordes of students poured in to watch operations.
Placing the Theatre in the Herb Garret of the Church provided a separation from the ward. It gave a separate entrance for students, and afforded a measure of sound proofing. It was also approximately at the same level as the women’s surgical ward which aided the transport of patients to the theatre. The Theatre was purpose built to maximise the light from above, with a large skylight. Although not heated or ventilated, it provided an ideal, albeit small, area for demonstrating surgical skills.
2012 is the 50th Anniverary of the foundation of Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret, in Southwark. click here to find out more about the discovery of the Old Operating Theatre and here for : the Restoration of the Old Operating Theatre
Until 1846, surgeons had no recourse to anaesthetics and depended on swift technique (surgeons could perform an amputation in a minute or less), the mental preparation of the patient and alcohol or opiates to dull the patient’s senses. Thereafter ether or chloroform started to be used. The Operating Theatre had closed down before antiseptic surgery was invented. The majority of cases were for amputations or superficial complaints as, without antiseptic conditions, it was too dangerous to carry out internal operations.
Opening Hours & Admission Prices
Normal Opening Hours
The museum is open every day from:
10.30am to 5.00pm
We are open Bank Holidays except Christmas Day and Boxing Day
Christmas Period Closing:
The Museum is closed 15th Dec – 5th Jan.
Museum Admission Prices 2015
Full Price £6.50 Concession £5.00
Child (under 16) £3.50 Family £13.90 (up to 2 adults and 4 children from same family) Schools Groups Each group (of 10 or over), booking in advance, receive a free lecture/introduction to the Museum after paying admission of £3.50 per pupil. Accompanying adults free. See Group information National Trust members now receive a 50% discount on admission on presentation of their valid membership card.
If you have forgotten your card today you will be asked to pay the full entrance charge. For more information please visitwww.nationaltrust.org.uk/London
Each group (of 10 or over) booking in advance will receive a free lecture/introduction to the Museum when the admission fee per person is paid as above. See Group information Group Walks Groups can also take a walk around the Local area – either as a general historical walk, or as a ‘Public Health in Southwark’ walk. Combined walk and talk is £8.50 per person for schools (2009 price!), and £10.50 per person for adult groups. Walk, no visit £8 per person.
‘Evening at the Museum’ talks Talk in the Museum with glass of wine – for clubs and societies – £13.95 per person – minimum group size of 20. For further information. London Pass Visiting many museums? – Want to save money? – then buy a London Pass! – accepted at the Museum. We now accept credit and debit cards(£5.00 min spend)
Please note the museum does not have visitor toilet facilities!
The Museum has limited disabled access but we do have a braille guide and a hearing loop.