General Interest

Herbal Sanctuary


Suitability: 16+ (any age or group with pharmacy interests)
Duration: Approximately 60 minutes
Cost: £5 concessions, £6.50 full price
Available: Mondays from 2:00 pm & Wednesdays from 10:30 am. 

Presentation outline

Without the provision of modern synthesised drugs, painkillers or anaesthetics, what type of medication could the hospitals of the past provide to help a patient recover their health? The Herbal Sanctuary talk allows an interactive hands-on investigation of Materia Medica, the herbs, resins and minerals that were used to make patients’ medicines at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals.  How powerful were herbal treatments and did the use of Leeches, Oysters, Earthworms and Garden snails more likely frighten a patient over curing them? The presentation takes place in the oak beamed Herb Garret attic of St Thomas' Church, Southwark (built in 1703) and can be booked for adult groups of maximum group size 25. Duration time 1 hour. 

The talk is undertaken by the Museum’s Herb Archivist. In addition to this hands on experience of herbs, poultices and pill making, the group will also have opportunity to visit the Old Operating Theatre of 1822 and look at the museum's fascinating medical object collection.

A herbal walk "From Garden to Garret" can also be added to this presentation to allow exploration of the herb gardens in the London Bridge area.   

Duration: Approximately 60 minutes
This will extend the visit to a total of 2 hours.
Cost: £8.50 concession, £12.00 full price
Available: May-September

To book please contact the museum at education@oldoperatingtheatre.com or call us at 020 7188 2679.


Tales of the Body Snatcher

Suitability: 16+ (any age or group)
Duration: Approximately 60 minutes
Cost: £5 concessions, £6.50 full price
Available: contact the museum for availability. 
Presentation outline
The Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital surgeons that operated within the Old Operating Theatre gained prior knowledge and experience of human anatomy by dissection of the dead human body. 
As techniques advanced more ‘Material’ was required for both anatomical studies and teaching.  Without voluntary body donation shortages arose pushing some surgeons to gain their own materials, with students warned to keep clear of trouble. What was to be done?
In the darkness, over the cemetery wall, came the solution - the professional Body Snatcher.

To book please contact the museum at education@oldoperatingtheatre.com or call us at 020 7188 2679.


Trepanning: The Release of Devils

Suitability: 16+ (any age or group)
Duration: Approximately 60 minutes
Cost: £5 concessions, £6.50 full price
Available:  Mondays from 2:00 pm & Wednesdays from 10:30 am. 
Presentation outline

Trepanning, the intervention of drilling into the human skull, is one of the oldest surgical operations to have been recorded. Prehistoric skulls have been discovered all over the world that bear intentionally cut holes. Medical assessment has shown that the skulls often bear signs of healing around the incised area, indicating that the patient had survived the procedure.

Was cranium drilling undertaken as a drastic cure of headache, or was it more of a ritual attempt undertaken to release evil spirits? If so – why would the eighteenth century surgeons of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals undertake this drastic intervention? Learn more about this ancient surgical practice and see up close with hands on some of the Museum’s most fearsome cranium cutting drills and saws, some that were even used within our own NHS history.

To book please contact the museum at education@oldoperatingtheatre.com or call us at 020 7188 2679.

Trip Advisor Certificate
Experts Choice 4