Old Operating Theatre

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Old Operating Theatre

The Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garret is a small museum located in the roof space of the former St Thomas’ church, Southwark. 

When the church was rebuilt in 1703 it had an unusually large garret in the roof space, which was used by the apothe­cary at neigh­bouring St Thomas’ Hospital to store and cure herbs.

In 1822 the garret was converted into an operating theatre, surrounded by seating in which appren­tice apothe­caries and medical students could observe surgical procedures.

The garret continued to serve this purpose until the the hospital closed in 1862, prior to its relo­ca­tion to Lambeth, after which the entrance to the garret was sealed. The old operating theatre was ‘redis­cov­ered’ in 1956 and restored and opened as a museum in 1962.
Old Operating Theatre sign