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Group Visits to the Old Operating Theatre Museum

We are delighted to welcome Groups to the Museum - each pre-booked group is given a talk as part of the normal entrance fee. The talk can be one of the following:

Download a Group Pack in PDF format here.


Your visit will consist of a talk about Victorian Surgery in the time before the advent of Anaesthesia, but also leaves your group quality time to look at the museums collection. The museum's setting of the original Operating Theatre combined with the atmospheric Herb Garret of the Old St. Thomas's Hospital will allow you to leave the 21st Century behind and step back into the time of Queen Victoria's reign.

The surgery talk provides a compelling interpretation of surgery, and culminates in a demonstration given by one of the curatorial staff who takes on the role of a 19th Century surgeon. The group sits around the tiered stands of the Operating Theatre, where 19th Century students would originally have stood to witness operations without anaesthesia or antiseptics. Original Victorian surgical instruments are used to perform an 'amputation' of a volunteer patient's left leg. With luck, the patients are expected to survive the experience.

This talk is available at no additional charge beyond the admission fee per person for all groups of 10 or over booking in advance. Groups under 10 can also take the tour, but in this case there is a minimum charge based on 10 visitors.


With hands on herbal materials and including a demonstration of poultice and pill making, the herbal talk explores 2000 years of the medicinal history of plants, animals and minerals and their use at the old St. Thomas’s and Guy’s Hospitals. A chronology of pharmaceutical history begins with Frankincense, Myrrh and roses and the medicines of ancient Egyptian and Roman cultures, and leads into the unusual medicinal materials stored in the Herb Garret in 1703.

Wormwood, oysters, roses and chamomile, earthworms and garden snails :
Just some of the ingredients key to medicines distributed to the patients of the old St Thomas’s Hospital. This talk is bookable for adult groups of maximum group size 25 (minimum 10),
and takes place within the Herb Garret. Duration time 1 hour.


For groups and societies we provide a special evening visit in which we provide an interesting talk on the history of the Operating Theatre and Herb Garret and provide a complementary glass of wine to be enjoyed amongst the exhibits in the Herb Garret after your talk. This can only be booked outside official opening hours.

The cost for an Evening at the Museum visit is £13.95 per person with a minimum charge equivalent to 15 people.

To discuss your visit send an email!

Other Lectures

In addition to the Victorian Surgery and The Herbal Sanctuary talks, we offer specialist talks in the subjects listed below. Some of these talks are given by outside lecturers, and are subject to availability.

Releasing Devils : The Skull & The Saw

Trepanning is one of the most ancient operations known to man. Prehistoric skulls with man-made holes have been found; holes made in a bid to allow oxygen onto the brain, or to release evil spirits...? Discover the medicines, fearsome drills and brutal saws once
used in this worrying practice.

Plague : Bring Out Your Dead...

The fearsome Black Death continually devastated the world's population for centuries and was responsible for the death of millions;
What did people think caused plague? How could you cure it?
And how did the work of 19th century German micro-bacteriologist Robert Koch lead to the discovery of the truth about this deadly disease...?

Tales of the Bodysnatcher

Nineteenth century surgical techniques were advanced by knowledge gained from anatomical dissection. At a time when criminals were dissected and voluntary body donation was rare,
a shortage of subjects arose.
In the darkness, over the cemetery wall, came the solution - The Body Snatcher!

The Curator’s Egg

Object Handling at the Museum!
The Old Operating Theatre, Museum and Herb Garret explores
medical artefacts and the way they are collected through a handling session of museum objects!

These talks are available for all groups over 15 booking in advance. It is provided at no extra cost beyond the admission fee. Groups of less than 15 may request a talk, but there will be a minimum charge for 15 people.

A Public Health Walk in Victorian Southwark

From the herbal medical practices of the Medieval Cathedral through to modern Guy’s Hospital this walk trails the rich and extensive medical history of the London Bridge area. The walker tells of the health, social and working conditions as suffered by the Victorian poor and the mass cholera infection and ‘miasma’ produced by Father Thames. Tales of the London patient from hospital to prison to the health and survival of the modern organic Borough Market.

Route includes: The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret,
Old St Thomas’ Hospital, Southwark Cathedral, the Clink, the Anchor Inn,
The Thames, London Bridge, Borough Market, the Hop Exchange, the George Inn, Guy’s Hospital.

For a list of other walks available, click here.

Walks are charged at £8.00 per person, in addition to any entry charges to the Museum. A walk and a visit to the Museum costs £8.50 for school children and £10.50 for groups of adults or concessions. The minimum charge for any of these visits is the price of a group of 10 (groups over 10 must pay admission for all members of their group except group leaders).

Note to schools and groups: bookings are very limited on weekends and there is no current availability for group bookings on Saturdays.




3/06/2012 kpf