One of the oldest surviving purpose-built operating theatres in the world has a whole museum devoted to it a stone’s throw away from London Bridge. It’s uniquely positioned in the roof of a baroque church, not intentionally mind, but because the wards of St. Thomas’ Hospital had been built around St. Thomas’ Church. Its elevated location was deliberate though, as plenty of natural light streams through a skylight, and being on the same level as the women’s ward meant easy access to and from surgery. As well as wandering through the theatre and imagining what having an operation may have been like in the 1800s (without anaesthetic or antiseptics) you can expect to see displays of old surgical instruments that nowadays look better suited to a horror movie set. Entrance is £6 for adults, £3.50 for children under the age of 16.
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Laid out a bit like a theatre auditorium, elevated seats surround a rough wooden bed where the surgical procedures once took place. One can only imagine the horror of performing and undergoing surgery without anaesthetic in the 19th century. Oddly enough, the room can only be accessed via a narrow staircase leading from St. Thomas’ Church, which is why it lay hidden for nearly a hundred years and till it was discovered in 1956.