The Old Operating Theatre Museum & Herb Garret

The Old Operating Theatre Museum & Herb Garret
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Hidden in the roof of a church, a 300-year old herb garret houses Britain's only surviving 19th century operating theatre. This museum, one of London's most intriguing historical interiors, contains the Operating Theatre, in use between 1821 and 1862 in the days before anaesthetic and antiseptic surgery. The Herb Garret, a "delightful experience of oak beams" was used by the apothecary of St Thomas' Hospital to store the herbs used within patients medicines.

The museum offers a full education service combined with cutting edge public events, including Victorian Surgery, Horror Hospital, and regular art exhibitions and special guest lecturers.

Venue Type:

Museum, Historic house or home

Opening hours

Open daily, Mon 14.00-17.00, Tue-Friday and Bank Holiday Mon 10.30-17.00, Sat-Sun 12.00-16.00. Weekend talks on Victorian Surgery available at 11.00 and at 16.00, but previous booking is necessary. See our website for more details.

Admission is up a steep, narrow 52 step spiral staircase, in the bell tower of St Thomas' Church.

Closed the 25th-26 Dec, 1 Jan.

Admission charges

Adults: £6.50
Concessions: £5
Child: £3.50
Family (2 adults + 2 children, £1 per additional child): £15


  • Museums Association

Additional info

Please note that unfortunately there is no disabled access to the museum.

The Museum has a diverse collection of medical, surgical and herbal objects, including amputation sets, bloodletting instruments, pharmaceutical jars, and nursing and obstetric instruments and items.

Collection details

Architecture, Industry, Medicine, Natural Sciences, Personalities, Science and Technology, Social History

Key artists and exhibits

  • The Old Operating Theatre - the oldest operating theatre in Britain and the Herb Garret exbitition.
Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.

Public Health in the Victorian Period Guided Walk

The walk is complementary to a visit to the Old Operating Theatre, Museum & Herb Garret, it provides a tour of surviving parts of Old St. Thomas’s Hospital, historic parts of Guy’s Hospital and a detailed look at the conditions in Victorian London. It can be delivered both to school groups and to medical groups. The school’s walk is closely tied to the National Curriculum, and can be tailored either to Key Stage 2 Victorian Britain, or to ‘Medicine Through Time.
The aim of the walk is to give an overview of Victorian Life with a particular emphasis on how conditions affected public health. We give graphic illustration of the effects of ignorance and poverty in Victorian Southwark. We


  • Museum Staff


  • The Old Operating Theatre

How to obtain or ring
020 7188 2679

THE HERB GARRET: Activity Hour programme

The session is led by one of the curatorial staff, who lead the class through a wide range of activities, designed to teach them about the medicines of the past. All the children can try grinding herbs, with some assisting in making pills, tablets and poultices.


  • Museum Staff


  • The Old Operating Theatre Museum

How to obtain or ring
020 7188 2679

The Old Operating Theatre Museum & Herb Garret
9A St Thomas' Street
Greater London

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Museum Staff and enquiries


020 7188 2679

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.