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The Old Operating Theater


The Old Operating Theater

Located in the attic of St. Thomas Church, The Old Operating Theater exposes the horrors of experimental surgery that took place in the oldest operating theater in the country.

The first mentions made to the Hospital of St. Thomas belong to the year 1215, it was a monastery in which the Augustinian monks welcomed the poor patients to give them treatment. During the time of the Reformation the monastery was dissolved, but it reopened its doors in 1551.

At the end of the seventeenth century the hospital and the church were rebuilt and in 1822 the herbalist was used to create the first operating theater in the United Kingdom, which would be a scene of life and death operations and continuous bloodletting until 1862, when the hospital was transferred to the neighborhood Of Lambeth. Since then the old operating room was closed and remained in oblivion until 1957.

The hospital patients were poor who could not afford their operations, so they did so by letting them experience their bodies. Rich patients were "lucky" to be operated with less public, usually at the kitchen table of their own homes.

From 1822 to 1847, operations were performed without anesthesia, trying to numb patients with alcohol or opium. Surgeons barely washed their hands before and after surgery, their robes were overflowing with dirt, and the blood from the floor was collected with wood shavings as medical students crowded around the sick to keep the details of the operation .
The museum

One of the main attractions of the museum is the oldest operating theater in the country, built in 1822, consisting of a rudimentary wooden table surrounded by tiers.

An impressive exposition reveals the horrors of medicine and surgery prior to the advances of the medical sciences, showing the instruments that were used to perform amputations and other operations.

The exhibition expands its contents towards the medicine that was practiced in the medieval monasteries, including the Hospital of St. Thomas and the Children's Hospital Evelina.

The museum leaves a faithful testimony to the horrible quality of life that existed some years ago. Although it is located in a somewhat reduced space, it is a well-used place capable of telling the stories of all the people who passed through the old hospital and operating room, arousing a great curiosity in the visitors.

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