Monday, April 28, 2014

St Thomas's Hospital and Old Operating Theatre by Suzi Love

  St Thomas's Hospital and Old Operating Theatre, London, 

by Suzi Love 

 St. Thomas's Hospital, London, UK, is one of the most fascinating places I've ever been to, and certainly one of London's best places to visit. 
St Thomas's Hospital. London. UK

The Herb Garrett and Old Operating Theatre have been preserved and provide a true look back in time.

St Thomas's Hospital began as an Augustinian infirmary during the twelfth century and was refounded by royal charter in 1551, one of five major royal hospitals established in the mid-sixteenth century.

It was a general hospital for the sick poor, including sufferers of venereal disease, and occupied the same site, on St. Thomas's Street in Southwark, for more than six centuries. At the end of the 17th century, the hospital and church were largely rebuilt by Thomas Cartwright, Master Mason to Christopher Wren at St Mary-le-Bow.

Between 1693 and 1720, more than £37,000 was raised to construct an elegant classical structure around three spacious courtyards and improved accommodation for the Hospital's administrative staff. The rebuilt Hospital had nineteen wards, including two foule wards for venereal patients and a cutting ward, with room for more than 400 patients. Male and female patients were strictly segregated, as were the venereal patients.

In 1822, part of the Herb Garret of the church was converted into a purpose built Operating Theatre,
to replace  operating on the ward, as the female surgical ward abutted the garret. 

The patients were mainly poor people who were expected to contribute to their care, while rich patients were treated and operated on at home. The patients at the Old Operating Theatre were all women and were brought in from the ward through what is now the fire escape.

In 1859, Florence Nightingale set up her famous nursing school on the site and, when the Charing Cross Railway Company offered to buy the hospital's land, she advised them to move to a new site. 

In 1862, the Hospital began moving to its present site at Lambeth and the operating theatre in Southwark was closed and lay abandoned until rediscovered in 1956.

Today, the operating theatre and herb garret is accessed by very steep spiral steps.

Narrow entrance to Operating Theatre and Herb Garret. 

Related articles


Maggi Andersen said...

Fascinating post, thanks Suzi.

Cheryl Leigh said...

Suzi, your post has reminded me to put this on my list next time I visit London. Thanks. :) You must have found it so fascinating!

Alison Stuart said...

Another brilliant post, Suzi! Thank you so much.

Suzi Love said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed reading about this fascinating place.
Cheryl, the Old Operating Theatre is a little hard to find as it isn't listed as one of London's main tourist stops, but anyone who visits lingers and loves it as it's a true step back in time.

Cassandra Samuels said...

Another wonderful post. The operating theatre reminds me of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and a lot of other Victorian movies.

Marianne Theresa said...

It would be a great source of interest for the *next* visit Suzi :)
I love the *cutting Ward* :)
When you think about it - back then - space for 400 patients was a lot to cater for really.
We have some hospitals here that can't cater for that many beds!
Thanks Suzi :)

Venetia Green said...

Much as I love history, your post has reminded me there are some significant advantages to living in the present, Suzi!
Fascinating stuff, and some great pictures.