please note: events are recommended for age 12 upwards

unless otherwise stated

Weekly Weekend Demonstrations

Every week (unless replaced by a special event)

Speed Surgery – Surgery in the 19th Century

Every Saturday 2.00pm*

(Saturdays are often very busy – so to guarantee a place please book in advance via email or phone)

A surgical demonstration presented within the original architecture of the old operating theatre of St. Thomas’s Hospital of 1822. Before the advent of anaesthesia, an operation had to be swift. Without hand-washing or antiseptics, the chance of later infection was high.

Herbs, the Garret and the Old Operating Theatre

Every Sunday 2.00pm*

In the past, medicines were made from plants, animals and even precious stones.
Learn how ‘drugs’ such as foxglove, myrrh and unicorn horns were used.
Examine real herbs in the attic space, originally used by the apothecary of St Thomas’ Hospital.

Please note – half price and 2 for 1 tickets are not valid for special events


Saturday 5 March 2016, at 6.30 for 7pm


A talk by the author of ‘The Pox’, Kevin Brown

Come and hear how in the eighteenth century and earlier, just one night of love in the arms of Venus could lead to a lifetime with Mercury, a painful treatment for the dreaded pox or syphilis. Find out where this loathsome disease originated from in the sixteenth century and the variety of painful treatments available for it in the Georgian age when the cure could indeed often be worse than the disease itself.

Discover why the actress Sarah Siddons became a ‘ball of resentment’, how Casanova tried to avoid catching the pox, how James Boswell somehow never managed to avoid infection, why the distinguished surgeon John Hunter deliberately infected himself with gonorrhoea only to go down with syphilis, and how King George II came to die on his stool not on the throne.

A talk by Kevin Brown, Trust Archivist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Curator of the Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum and author of books such as Penicillin Man (2004), The Pox: the Life and Near Death of a Very Social Disease (2006) or Poxed and Scurvied: The Story of Sickness and Health at Sea (2011).

Please book tickets via Eventbrite!

Recent visitors’ reviews from tripadvisor and more:

Atmospheric and fascinating – go for the events and the 2pm talk on a Saturday!

“We didn’t know what to expect from this but the family really enjoyed the bizarre herbs, medicines and instruments, and the afternoon talk brought everything to life… while showing how almost everyone died!”

“Visited today with my friend. We are both nurses and found the whole place fascinating but the curator made it perfect. A lovely lady who has such passion and vitality for her job you can help but be awed. A welcoming smile from everyone. 5 stars”

All events that are included in Museum admission are presented by Museum curatorial staff, unless otherwise stated.

Two for One vouchers and discounts are not valid for special events and for groups.

When possible, the maximum number of people egible for discount is a family of a maximum of 6 members.

To avoid disappointement, please be aware that lectures included in the admssion charge requires a minimum attendance.


The Old Operating Theatre, Museum & Herb Garret
9a St. Thomas’ Street, Southwark, London, SE1 9RY
Tel. 020 7188 2679. Email: [email protected]

The Events programme is organised by the Museum Staff and volunteers – in particular (in alphabetic order) Kirsty Chilton, Kevin Flude, Karen Howell, Valentina Lari, Julie Mathias, and Juliana Wakefield.


Our talks can be graphic in content, particularly where describing the history of surgery. If in doubt please contact us to discuss the content of a particular event. We give some indication of age range below. Generally, children of 7 plus will find them suitable. However, the Museum itself has plenty of activities to divert the attention of children from the toddler upwards. Booking is not normally necessary, except for our Half Term events where it is highly recommended as the Museum has a capacity of only 60.

PLEASE NOTE:We strongly advise booking, as places are limited and often in great demand. The museum is very small and has a maximum capacity of only 60 people.

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