This extremely unusual museum is located up a very narrow flight of stairs inside the garret of St. Thomas's Church which was also the original location of St. Thomas's Hospital. Visitors to this lesser known London attraction find it very intriguing and they highly recommend it. The Old Operating Theatre is one of the oldest operating theatres still in existence. Opened in 1822, the patients were women from the adjoining women's hospital.
Procedures were performed without anaesthetics so they were done as rapidly as possible while the patient was subdued by alcohol or opiates. Later they began to use ether or chloroform. Patients put up with students watching the operation in the Theatre, as they were generally poor, and this allowed them to receive surgery from top surgeons that they could in no way afford otherwise.
Cleanliness was 'sacred', however the risk of death was still very high due to the lack of available treatments for infection and the shock of surgery.
The Operating Theatre closed in 1862 when the hospital was moved to a new location and it remained undiscovered for nearly 100 years until 1957. It opened to the public as a museum in 1962.
The Old Operating Theatre is open daily from 10:30 am to 5:00 pm except for December 15th-January 5th. There is a small admission charge, however admission is free with the London Pass.
For more information about the The Old Operating Theatre including admission charges and hours visit their official website.
Facts For Your Visit
Official Website: Old Operating TheatreFee: Yes
Hours may be subject to change. Please verify on the official website, especially where Covid restrictions are in effect.
- Monday: 10:30 am - 5:00 pm
- Tuesday: 10:30 am - 5:00 pm
- Wednesday: 10:30 am - 5:00 pm
- Thursday: 10:30 am - 5:00 pm
- Friday: 10:30 am - 5:00 pm
- Saturday: 10:30 am - 5:00 pm
- Sunday: 10:30 am - 5:00 pm
Category: Museums Art Galleries
9a St Thomas Street
London SE1 9RY
Phone: +44 20 7188 2679
Lauren M. Jul-24-2019
I found this on a Pinterest post about weird/unique attractions in London, and it did not disappoint. I've worked in hospitals for ten years so all of this... Read More
Cathy N. May-21-2019
Absolutely love this hidden gem!! It's a must visit for anyone who is studying or in the healthcare profession, or enjoys the history of medicine. The... Read More
Steve P. Nov-01-2016
I visited for a talk on old time medical charlatans, who would claim things such as giving birth to rabbits. It was a very fascinating and fun talk, which... Read More
Accommodations near Old Operating Theatre:
|Tube Line||Nearest Station||Walking Time|
|Jubilee and Northern Lines||London Bridge Station||1 MInute|
How to get to Old Operating Theatre by Tube
From London Bridge Station exit onto Borough High Street and walk to your right(north) then immediately right onto St. Thomas Street. The Old Operating Theatre is just ahead to your left on St. Thomas Street.
Map & Instant Route Finder
Click&Go Map and Route Finder with public transit, walking, driving or cycling directions. Get up-to-the-minute transit times for your route.