Royal College of Physicians

Royal College of Physicians - interior
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The Royal College of Physicians is the oldest medical college in England. Since our foundation by royal charter of Henry VIII in 1518, the RCP has built up magnificent collections of books, manuscripts, portraits, silver, and medical artefacts.

Visit us to experience extraordinary historical and ceremonial spaces set inside a radically modern building created by Sir Denys Lasdun in 1964.

Our portrait galleries reveal eminent physicians by some of Britain's greatest artists. Our silver collection has been used for centuries in ceremonies and fine dining. Our medical instrument collections include early stethoscopes, bleeding tools, apothecary jars and a rare set of 17th century human remains - our anatomical tables.

Guided tours can be booked in advance for groups of 6+.

Venue Type:

Gallery, Museum

Opening hours

Mon-Fri 9.00-17.00

Closed: Public holidays and ceremonial days - see website for details

Admission charges

Free

Getting there

The Royal College of Physicians is located next to Regent's Park in the centre of London. It is easily accessible by all forms of transport.

The main entrance can be reached by approaching the Outer Circle from Park Square East and the A501 Marylebone Road.

By underground:
Regent's Park Station on the Bakerloo line (3 minutes' walk)
Great Portland Street Station on the Circle, Metropolitan and City lines (5 minutes' walk)
Warren Street Station on the Victoria and Northern lines (10 minutes' walk)

By train:
Euston Station (15 minutes' walk)
King's Cross Station (5 minutes by taxi)
St Pancras Station - Eurostar terminal (5 minutes by taxi)
Marylebone Station (5 minutes by taxi)

By road:
From the north: A4201 Albany Street from A41 North, the M1, A1, M40 and M25
From the east: A501 Euston Road from A13 East, the M25, the M20 and the M2
From the west: A501 Marylebone Road from A40 Westway, the M4 Heathrow and the M25
From the south: A4201 Portland Place from Westminster and the A23, M25 and M23 Gatwick

The collections of the Royal College of Physicians relate to the history of the College and the history of the Physician’s profession. They include; portraits, silver, medals, medical artefacts and instruments. They are on display throughout the College's building.

The portraits form a record of the most eminent figures in the history of medicine from the 16th century to the present day. We hold 350 oil portraits and 4000 prints. The collection includes outstanding pieces such as the busts of Baldwin Hamey Junior (1600-1676) by Edward Pierce and Richard Mead (1673-1754) by Louis François Roubiliac. Major painters represented include Godfrey Kneller, Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Hudson, Johann Zoffany and Thomas Lawrence.

The silver collection reflects events in College history as well as the lives and generosity of its Fellows and Members. Few pieces pre-date the Great Fire of London in 1666 because of a robbery during the previous year. Baldwin Hamey’s inkstand bell and William Harvey’s demonstration rod are two of the pieces that survive. Many pieces of silver are ‘working’ objects and are used to this day for formal occasions in the College. Special objects include the President’s staff of office, the silver caduceus and the silver-gilt College mace.

The College also owns six seventeenth century anatomical tables, made by drying and mounting the blood vessels and nerves of the human body onto blocks of wood which were then varnished and used as a teaching aid for the study of anatomy. The Symons Collection of medical instruments began as a group of objects relating to self-care in Georgian times and expanded to include items that would have been used by physicians when treating patients in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

For further information go to www.rcplondon.ac.uk/museum-and-garden

Collection details

Archives, Coins and Medals, Decorative and Applied Art, Fine Art, Medicine, Personalities, Science and Technology, Social History

Key artists and exhibits

  • medical instruments
  • anatomy
  • medicine
  • physician
  • Doctor
  • William Hunter
  • William Harvey
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
Dr Fiona Godlee, editor in chief, the BMJ

Women in medicine: a celebration

  • 2 October 2017 — 19 January 2018

'Women in medicine: a celebration’ showcases a specially commissioned series of photographic portraits of some of today’s leading female clinicians, pictured with the women from the history of medicine who have inspired them.

The exhibition is the result of a project, coordinated by the RCP, bringing together the leading medical bodies in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. Each institution has nominated a modern day woman to represent their specialism or area of practice. In turn, each contemporary clinician holds an image of, and pays tribute to, the remarkable woman who went before them.

The project’s timing is significant, as 2017 not only sees the centenary of the foundation of the Medical Women’s Federation, but also witnessed the first time in history that the majority of the world-renowned medical royal colleges have been led by women.

Among the historical women featured are internationally acclaimed individuals such as Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Britain’s first formally qualified and recognised female doctor; Dame Sheila Sherlock, the prime mover in the establishment of liver disease as a specialty, and Dame Cicely Saunders, the founder of the modern hospice movement.

The present day is represented by past and current presidents of the royal colleges of physicians, surgeons, general practitioners, obstetricians and gynaecologists, pathologists and paediatrics and child health. They are joined by new photographs of many other pre-eminent female figures from medical fields as diverse as academic publishing and public health, radiology and ophthalmology, anaesthesia and education.

Accompanying online resources will allow visitors to find out more about the lives and works of the women who have changed medicine forever.

Suitable for

  • 18+

Website

https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/events/women-medicine-celebration

Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
edible perfume

Sensational scents: a sensory journey to the 17th century

  • 19 October 2017 6:30-9pm

Take an intriguing voyage via the senses back to the world of writer, collector and physician, Sir Thomas Browne at a unique and atmospheric ‘museum late’. Presented with the celebrated AVM Curiosities; an innovative practice exploring the relationship between art, food and history; specially designed ‘scent chambers’, edible perfumes and scent tabs will enable guests to experience the world of Sir Thomas Browne in a new light.

The evening also features a revealing talk on early modern odours by academic, author and 17th century scent expert, Sophie Read, and the opportunity to view the acclaimed exhibition 'A cabinet of rarities': the curious collections of Sir Thomas Browne,

Founded by award-winning food historian Tasha Marks (Selfridges Bright Young Thing 2013 and Young British Foodie 2013 – Experiential Finalist), AVM Curiosities champions the use of food as an artistic medium, with projects ranging from museum-style exhibitions and sculptural installations to interactive lectures and limited-edition confectionery. With a practice heavily influenced by history, Tasha has diverse culinary interests ranging from 16th century cabinets of curiosity to 1930s medicinal cookery.

Vanity Fair calls AVM Curiosities ‘London at it’s crazy-best’.

Sophie Read is a lecturer in Renaissance Literature at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Christ's College. She works primarily on seventeenth-century poetry, with a few excursions both backwards and forwards. She is interested in the intersection of literature and religion, in literature and the senses, and in rhetorical constructs. Her first book was ‘Eucharist and the Poetic Imagination’ her current research, provisionally entitled ‘Speaking Sweet: Renaissance Rhetorics of Smell’, is on perfume and the sense of smell in the early modern world.

Tickets include a cocktail on arrival. Pay bar available.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children

Admission

£12 including a cocktail on arrival. Concession (student, over 60s, unwaged) £10

Website

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/sensational-scents-a-sensory-journey-to-the-17th-century-tickets-37305365352?aff=erelpanelorg

Getting there

The Royal College of Physicians is located next to Regent's Park in the centre of London. It is easily accessible by all forms of transport.

The main entrance can be reached by approaching the Outer Circle from Park Square East and the A501 Marylebone Road.

By underground:
Regent's Park Station on the Bakerloo line (3 minutes' walk)
Great Portland Street Station on the Circle, Metropolitan and City lines (5 minutes' walk)
Warren Street Station on the Victoria and Northern lines (10 minutes' walk)

By train:
Euston Station (15 minutes' walk)
King's Cross Station (5 minutes by taxi)
St Pancras Station - Eurostar terminal (5 minutes by taxi)
Marylebone Station (5 minutes by taxi)

By road:
From the north: A4201 Albany Street from A41 North, the M1, A1, M40 and M25
From the east: A501 Euston Road from A13 East, the M25, the M20 and the M2
From the west: A501 Marylebone Road from A40 Westway, the M4 Heathrow and the M25
From the south: A4201 Portland Place from Westminster and the A23, M25 and M23 Gatwick

Royal College of Physicians
11 St. Andrews Place
Regent's Park
London
Greater London
NW1 4LE
England

Website

www.rcplondon.ac.uk/museum-and-garden

E-mail

history@rcplondon.ac.uk

Telephone

0203 075 1543

Fax

020 7486 3729

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.
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