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



JUNE 2015

Sunday 14th June, 10am to 5pm
At the Museum of the Order of St John

On 14th June the Museum of the Order of St John will be participating for the first time in the acclaimed Open Square Gardens Weekend. As a part of the 2010 redevelopment of the Museum of the Order of St John, the Cloister Garden was re-landscaped and planted with medicinal plants and herbs to reflect the work of the Knights Hospitaller and to call to mind the former gardens of the medieval Clerkenwell Priory.

Highlights of the garden include towering cardoons, beautiful scents, architecture ancient and modern, and fascinating connections to the past. Something for all the family, the Museum’s new Garden Children’s Trail will be launched at this Open Square event.

This event also features the following talk by the curator of the Old Operating Theatre Museum, which will take place in St John's garden.

The Herbal Sanctuary
2pm with Karen Howell,
Curator of the Old Operating Theatre Museum

With hands on herbal materials and including a demonstration of poultice and pill making, this 1 hour herbal talk explores 2000 years of the medicinal history of plants, animals and minerals and their use in hospital treatments. A chronology of pharmaceutical history begins with Frankincense, Myrrh and roses and the medicines of ancient Egyptian and Roman cultures, and leads into the unusual medicinal materials in use in early modern London.



JULY 2015

6.30pm July 8th

Royal College of Pathologists


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.

Please contact the museum for further details or Book via eventbrite:




July 16th at 6.30 for 7pm

Resurrection Men and the Trade in Real Human Teeth

In the late 18th and early 19th century, a trip to the 'dentist' was a basic and painful experience and many mouths were were rotten and empty. However, a beautiful smile was still fashionable and desireable. With tooth transplantation being an experimental science at best, and sets of porcelain false teeth being wildly expensive, what could be the answer to the problem?

Assistant Curator Kirsty Chilton reveals how teeth taken from the mouths of the dead on the battlefields of the Penninsular or the burial grounds of London could be sold to dentists and turned into sets of false teeth, an opportunistic trade which could be worth a small fortune to a wise bodysnatcher...

Please contact the museum for further details on 0208 188 2679



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.