Old Operating Theatre Museum

A photo showing the interior of the Operating Theatre
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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 - Sun, from 10.30-17.00. Admission is up a steep, narrow 32 step spiral staircase, in the bell tower of St Thomas' Church

Closed 15 Dec - 5 Jan inclusive

Admission charges

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

Groups are welcome when pre-booked (over 10 people) and will receive a free lecture/introduction to the Museum.


  • National Trust

Additional info

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

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.
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.
on the mend landscape

Life-size Operation Game

  • 28 September 2019 6:30-10:30pm

<b>What happens at this event?</b>
A life-sized operation game.

When a component is taken out it informs the visitor about some aspect of woman's health. It might be the ovary for the menstrual cycle, veins to symbolise giving blood or the skin to symbolise eczema and allergies.

<b>Where is it?</b>
Up a narrow spiral staircase in the hidden attic of a 300-year-old church is the oldest surviving surgical theatre in Europe. Before the days of anesthetic, patients had to be either sideways drunk or pumped to within an inch of their life with smack. With surgeons barely washing their hands and straw reassuringly scattered on the floor to soak up blood from amputations, that was probably the highlight of the whole abominable ordeal.

<b>Is there something to eat and drink?</b>
Licensed cash bar in the Herb Garret, but no drinks are allowed in the Operating Theatre itself.

<b>How do I get there?</b>
Nearest tube: London Bridge Station (2 minute walk)
London Bridge Train Station (2 minute walk)
Buses going towards London Bridge Station

<b>What facilities does the venue provide?</b>
Access is through a 52-step spiral staircase. One unisex toilet available on site.

Suitable for

  • 18+


Admission is with an Emerge festival wristband. Visit the festival website to buy your festival ticket.



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

http://www.thegarret.org.uk/education.htm 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

http://www.thegarret.org.uk/education.htm or ring
020 7188 2679

Old Operating Theatre Museum
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.