Apothecary and 19th Century Medicine at The Old Operating Theatre Museum

Apothecary and 19th Century Medicine at The Old Operating Theatre Museum

The Old Operating Theatre Museum is one of London’s little known gems. Located round the corner from London Bridge station, visitors have to climb up a single width spiral staircase to reach it’s entrance in the garett of St Thomas’s Church. Standard admission is £6.50 for Adults, and while this is pricey for a museum so small, the exhibits are packed in to provide surprisingly good value for money. I was inspired by Sarah’s trip in February, and her target of visiting the Telegraph’a 50 Most Unusual Museums in London.

The Operating Theatre

The namesake of the museum is not front and centre but located round a corner off the main room in the roof space. Founded in 1822, the operating theatre was for female patients only and is now the oldest preserved one in Europe. The most fascinating aspect of this space is that it is a literal theatre, with stands for observing set up in a semi circle around where the operations would have occurred.

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Apothecary and Herb Garret

My favourite part of the museum were the Herb Garrett displays, showing the ingredients and tools used by the Apothecary (a historical pharmacist) during the time of the on site hospital.

apothecaryThese displays show a plethora of natural concoctions and medicinal instructions, reminiscent of potions in a witch’s lair.

Apothecary ingrediantsApothecary recipesApothecary bottlesAt the centre of the main room is the Apothecary station, with beautiful old drawers, cabinets and a set of large scales. Anyone who has watched Friends will understand how great an apothecary table is!

Apothecary tableAlso featured in the Museum are historical medical tools and supplies from the 1800s including canopic jars, medical illustrations and a variety of prongs and forceps used in the hospital.

apothecary toolscanopic jarsvictorian surgeryThe jumble of artefacts on display within the museum creates a ambience similar to a old junk or curiosity shop and may not suit the tastes of all visitors. I personally loved being able to take my time looking at every little jar or device on display. Everywhere you look in the Old Operating Theatre Museum was a delight for the eyes.

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