please note: events are recommended for age 12 upwards

unless otherwise stated

Weekly Weekend Demonstrations...


Every week (unless replaced by a special event)

Speed Surgery - Surgery in the 19th Century

Every Saturday 2.00pm*

(Saturdays are often very busy - so to guarantee a place please book in advance via email or phone)

A surgical demonstration presented within the original architecture of the old operating theatre of St. Thomas's Hospital of 1822. Before the advent of anaesthesia, an operation had to be swift. Without hand-washing or antiseptics, the chance of later infection was high.

Herbs, the Garret and the Old Operating Theatre

Every Sunday 2.00pm*

In the past, medicines were made from plants, animals and even precious stones.
Learn how 'drugs' such as foxglove, myrrh and unicorn horns were used.
Examine real herbs in the attic space, originally used by the apothecary of St Thomas' Hospital.

Please note - half price and 2 for 1 tickets are not valid for special events


Drawing sessions!!!


Discover your creative side this Summer at the Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret
Throughout July and August, staff at the Old Operating Theatre will be convening a series of still life drawing workshops for all ages themed around medicine and art. These sessions will provide an interesting and enjoyable way of exploring the museum's collection and contemplating some of these artifacts' historical use. These workshops will run on the following dates and times:

Tuesday 28th July 2pm- 4pm
Thursday 30th July 2pm- 4pm
Thursday 13th August 2pm-4pm
Thursday 20th August 2pm -4pm
Tuesday 25th August 2pm-4pm

Booking is essential

Drawing materials will be provided by the museum and there is no addition charge for these workshops other than the general museum admission.




(please note the museum is only participating on Sunday of Open House Weekend)


Visiting the museum is free on Sunday 20th of September during Open House weekend, but as physical space in the museum is very limited, queues are expected.

Last admissions will be at 4.45 and the museum closes as usual at 5pm.

No talk will take place on this day.


Thursday 15th October, 6.30 for 7pm

in association with Ether Day

Vitriol and Lethion
or ether frolics and medicine...

Ether was most famously used in Boston on 16 October 1846 by dentist William Morton. He succeeded in his public demonstration of using a substance he called ' 'lethion' to eliminate pain, previously a necessary part of dentistry or surgery. Anaesthesia was used here at the Old Operating Theatre from 1847, after news of the invention had reached England.

But this is not where the story of ether begins. From Valerius Cordus' first description of producing "Sweet Oil of Vitriol" in 1540 it took 300 years to explore its full potential for medicine: Anaesthesia.

(Ladies and Gentlemen), this Yankee Dodge is beating Mesmerism hollow!"
Robert Liston

Tickets £8.00, £6.00

Eventbrite http://www.eventbrite.com/e/vitriol-and-lethion-ether-frolics-and-medicine-tickets-18133767587?aff=es2

or contact the museum for further information or to reserve a ticket.



Saturday 31st October at 6.30 for 7pm

Lord Byron's Physician Dr Polidori,
and his relations with

The manner of Frankenstein's conception is not unknown, but the other gothic figure to emerge from that evening of writing ghost stories at the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva is more obscure - The Vampyre, a story from the pen of Lord Byron's doctor, John William Polidori.

In this illustrated lecture, our speakers Dr Ruth Richardson and Professor Brian Hurwitz from Kings College London trace the life of this young doctor before that fateful night, and follow through to his tragic death and literary afterlife.

Tickets £8.00, £6.00, Contact the museum to make a reservation or search Eventbrite for tickets.


Tuesday 3rd November, 6.30 for 7pm




The remains of Richard III were discovered in a Leicester car park in 2012 and recently reinterred in Leicester Cathedral. Forensic tests identified the body as Richard's 'beyond reasonable doubt'.

Join award-winning pathologist Dr Suzy Lishman to learn more about how this conclusion was reached and discover what a modern-day post mortem examination might have uncovered. With the help of a live model, Dr Lishman will explore what Richard's body might tell us about how he lived and died.

Tickets £8.00, £6.00, Contact the museum to make a reservation or search Eventbrite for tickets.



Thursday 19th November, 6.30 for 7pm


Throughout the 18th and early 19th century, surgeons and their students sought increased access to anatomy. But with legal supplies of corpses limited, where could they get their subjects from?

A talk about the men who supplied the dissecting rooms of London from the graves of the city, the tricks of the their trade and the stories of their gruesome work, all in the dark atmosphere of the Old Operating Theatre.

Tickets coming soon, please contact the museum for further details.



Recent visitors' reviews from tripadvisor and more:

"Atmospheric and fascinating - go for the events and the 2pm talk on a Saturday!

"We didn't know what to expect from this but the family really enjoyed the bizarre herbs, medicines and instruments, and the afternoon talk brought everything to life... while showing how almost everyone died!"

"Visited today with my friend. We are both nurses and found the whole place fascinating but the curator made it perfect. A lovely lady who has such passion and vitality for her job you can help but be awed. A welcoming smile from everyone. 5 stars"

All events that are included in Museum admission are presented by Museum curatorial staff, unless otherwise stated.

Two for One vouchers and discounts are not valid for special events and for groups.

When possible, the maximum number of people egible for discount is a family of a maximum of 6 members.

To avoid disappointement, please be aware that lectures included in the admssion charge requires a minimum attendance.

Events Archive


The Old Operating Theatre, Museum & Herb Garret
9a St. Thomas' Street, Southwark, London, SE1 9RY
Tel. 020 7188 2679. Email: curator@thegarret.org.uk

The Events programme is organised by the Museum Staff and volunteers - in particular (in alphabetic order) Kirsty Chilton, Kevin Flude, Karen Howell, Valentina Lari, Julie Mathias, and Juliana Wakefield.


Our talks can be graphic in content, particularly where describing the history of surgery. If in doubt please contact us to discuss the content of a particular event. We give some indication of age range below. Generally, children of 7 plus will find them suitable. However, the Museum itself has plenty of activities to divert the attention of children from the toddler upwards. Booking is not normally necessary, except for our Half Term events where it is highly recommended as the Museum has a capacity of only 60.

PLEASE NOTE:We strongly advise booking, as places are limited and often in great demand. The museum is very small and has a maximum capacity of only 60 people.