The Old Operating Theatre Museum

The Old Operating Theatre is a unique museum providing a fascinating glimpse into the early days of surgery in the early 1800s

Inside the Old Operating Theatre
Inside the Old Operating Theatre cc licensed photo by Matt From London

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.

This attraction is also close to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and Tower Bridge so you may want to visit them while in the area.

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 Theatre

Fee: Yes

Closed Now

Regular Hours:

  • 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

Address: 9a St Thomas Street
London SE1 9RY
United Kingdom

Phone: +44 20 7188 2679

Reviews

Yelp Rating:
4.5 out of 5 4.5 Star Rating
Based on 23 Reviews.

See all reviews on Yelp

5 Star Rating 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

Lauren M. Jul-24-2019

5 Star Rating 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

Cathy N. May-21-2019

4 Star Rating I didn't grow up in the UK so wasn't forced to come here on school visits like so many others. Instead I discovered this place reading the Lonely Planet.... Read More

Jean K. Jun-27-2018

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Directions

Tube Line Nearest Station Walking Time
Jubilee and Northern LinesLondon Bridge Station1 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.

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Video


This interesting video about the Old Operating Theatre will give you a renewed appreciation of modern medicine

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