Check out our tour of the fascinating Old Operating Theatre London, dating back to the Middle Ages.
So we’re going to go up these windng stairs to visit it.
We were hearing a little bit about the fight that took place in the Operating Theatre between a hundred boys when they were trying to get a look in at the surgery. And I was wondering if there were any female surgeons and it turns out there is one. Just reading about it here.
Her name was Miranda Barry but she changed it to James Barry and she managed to get away with it for her whole life. She performed the first successful caesarean section where both mother and baby survived. She died in 1865 so she was a practicising surgeon for over fifty years. And they only discovered she was a woman on her death bed.
They think that he was into sex and he was of indeterminate gender. But the amazing thing was that he or she rose to the head of the Army Medical Corps and was in the army for forty years. They think that she was raised as a girl but wasn’t necessarily biologically a girl and then her mother decided that it wasn’t a good career option and made him a boy. And she was very bright and she went off and studied and did a couple of qualifications. If you get hold of the book, its fascinating.
That’s really interesting.
This is one of the oldest hospitals in the whole world. There aren’t any other hospitals as old as this. And it was foundedin the 1100’s across the street. And it came here in 1215 because there was a fire over there.
The Old Operating Theatre was the women’s operating theatre of Saint Thomas’s Hospital. It was a teaching space for medical students and 110 boys, young men would be here as medical students. It wasn’t quiet, it wasn’t peaceful and the boys would have been in the pub at lunchtime and pushing each other out of the way. There’s an account in one of the books which says they were shouting heads, heads, pushing and elbowing each other out of the way and trying to get a space for spaces at the front which were premium. The disorder was so bad that in the 1820s in the male theatre, there was a fight between the St Thomas’s students and the Guys students who at that period shared the hospital. And the police were called and the students were arrested and charged with affray.
The first operation with ether was performed in Boston in the 1860s but in this theatre there was no anaesthetic. I mean they had drugs but drugs were made from plants so it was a bit like cannabis for example, one plant was not the same as the other. ou can cannais from one plant, cannabis from another plant, you can have completely different strengths. So drugs were very very unreliable. And also Florence Nightingale started the first nursing school in the world just over there. She fell out with the Army Medical director in the Crimean War. And the Director wrote a letter saying, do not give my men anaesthetics. My troops prefer the smart of the knife not some namby pamby nonsense.
They’re the instruments.
They’re actually what they used. Can I touch that one?
Careful. At yor own risk.
These are authentic. These are the knives, the bone pincers.
That would have cut your bone.
That would smooth the ends of the bone.
And this one.
This one was for getting hold of veins and the arteries.
That’s the bone there. So painful. And this at least would have meant that the blood circulation stopped to here.
You couldn’t have done it because the minute you cut it they would have bled to death. That was a turnuqet.
The cleanest was all metal.
These were made in the street. That’s the turnuqet.
I would would have preferred to have my leg cut off.
They’re the stones people would have had inside them. Oh my God
It was a horrible operation, horrible.
We visited last night the place where they said Jack the Ripper killed his victims. Some people say he might have been a doctor. Because of the way he…
They said he was too neat, wasn’t a casual slash slash slash, like a butcher is used to with shop knives
And we went to Sweeney Todd barber as well. We seem to be doing this gruesome pick of London
I think we’re getting a pretty gruesome view of nineteenth century London. I’m ready to rejoin the modern world now.