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



Anatomy of Performance Training
13th - 17th Oct 2014, 1.00pm-2.00pm

Monday13th October – Hand
Tuesday 14th October – Foot
Wednesday 15th October – Mouth
Thursday 16th October – Heart
Friday 17th October – Ear

These talks coincide with the launch of his new book, Methuen Drama and the Old Operating Theatre & Herb Garret (9a St Thomas St, London, SEI 9RY) are hosting Dr John Matthews (Plymouth University) to give a series of public lectures this October. Each lecture examines the practical and symbolic uses of a different body part in the practices, politics and philosophy of performance training

Each lecture will be accompanied by a screening of an original, corresponding digital art-film made by Siobhan Mckeown alongside the book for Methuen Drama Online.

Entry is free and by booking only. Entry to these talks also gives free admission to the Old Operating Theatre Museum & Herb Garret. Places are limited and so please contact Siobhan via anatomyofperformancetraining@gmail.com and specify the date or dates you plan on attending.

More about Anatomy of Performance Training:

We train because we are human and we become human because we train.

This is the surprising and original conclusion of Anatomy of Performance Training, in which Matthews shows how training is a very human response to the problems of having a body and living in the world.

Using illustrative case-studies of professional practice, each chapter addresses a specific body part, offering a self-contained discussion of its symbolic and practical significance in the artistic, and commercial, activities of training. These anatomical case-studies are cross-referenced with other disciplines (such as sport, high diving, deep diving and artisan craft) to further expand our understanding of performance. Stand-alone chapters, ideal for reference, build towards an overall conclusion that the uniquely human practice of training is emerging as a new and pervasive ideology globally.

Ideal for readers seeking to understand the relationship the body has with the theatre and training, or for teachers looking for a new, innovative approach to performance, Anatomy of Performance Training is an accessible, original contribution to the philosophy of training for performance.






Pills, Poultices and Poisons

Oct Tue 28th & Thu 30th at 2pm

This summer discover some of the curious 'cures' that were used to treat a wide range of maladies in one of London's oldest hospital. This family activity workshop will explore some of skills necessary to qualify as a 19th century surgeon- apothecary.


The Surgeon's Apprentice

Wednesday 9th Oct at 2pm

Do you know your anatomy? Can you dress a wound?
Come to the Old Operating Theatre to learn how to train to become a surgeon in the 19th century. A talk and workshop for all the family.



The Museum also offers a number of trails around the museum
to explore all the exciting exhibits.

Earn your 'badge of honour'!





October 2014 is the 300th anniversary of the coronation of George I and the beginning of the Georgian era.
The Old Operating Theatre Museum marks the event with a season of talks about medicine in the Georgian age.



Thursday 2nd October at 6.30 for 7pm

Agony and Advancement -
Surgery in the Enlightenment


In the Age of Enlightenment, increasing emphasis on scientific practice lead to improvements to existing operations and the development of many new techniques. These included developments in cutting for the stone, trephining, eye surgery and reconstructive surgery and the emergence of surgery on the circulatory system. And yet, without anaesthesia, these operations were still performed on conscious patients and surgery continued to be a bloody and agonising experience for the patients.

A talk on the rise of scientific surgery, as it was performed by some of the greatest surgeons of the enlightenment, men whose personal and professional ambitions and energy shaped 18th century surgery, including William Cheselden, Percival Pott and the great John Hunter himself, and of the reality of surgery in the Georgian age.

£6.50, £5.00 concessions

Over 12s, Booking is essential as space is limited. Please contact the museum to book or for further details


Thursday 16th October at 6.30 for 7pm

"Taking the Air"

Phlogiston and Laughing Gas

This talk celebrates Ether Day, the first successful demonstration of anaesthesia in Boston on 16th October 1846.The Georgian era saw immense advances in scientific development and discovery.

Without the work of man like Joseph Priestley or Humphrey Davy on gasses and air, one of the biggest medical advances and basis for modern surgery might not have been discovered - Anaesthesia

Thursday 13th November at 6.30 for 7pm

"Things for the Surgeon"
The Body Snatchers of Georgian London


As the Georgian age began, the surgeons and surgical students of London were increasingly unwilling to just watch anatomies. They wanted to dissect for themselves. But with people unwilling to donate their bodies and the legal supplies of corpses limited, where could the surgeons get their subjects from?

Someone was waiting in the shadow...

Enter the professional Resurrection Men, who crept into the London burial grounds at night and raised the dead to supply the dissecting rooms of London's flourishing medical schools. Hear the stories of some of the body snatchers, learn some of the tricks of the their trade and how much a body was worth, and discover what happened when the appetite for anatomical subjects ended with murder.

£6.50, £5.00 concessions

Over 12s, Booking is essential as space is limited. Please contact the museum to book or for further details




The Pathology of
Plague and Persistence

Thursday 6th November

200 million deaths but not one autopsy:a modern pathologist’s view

of the Black Death

In the fourteenth century bubonic plague wiped out half the population of Europe.
Doctors had no idea what caused it or how to treat
or prevent the spread of the disease.

Join pathologist Dr Suzy Lishman as she performs a virtual autopsy on a live model to investigate the effects of the plague on the body
and explores how modern pathologists would have dealt with the outbreak.
Find out what an autopsy involves and how post mortem examinations
have transformed our understanding of disease.


Curiosity Cabaret
'Science inspiring art'

Mon 2nd- Fri 7th Dec 2014

A brand new London-based production,
The Curiosity Cabaret is the first ever cabaret in the style of an history of medicine lecture.
Created by Dr Clive Selwyn, The Curiosity Cabaret will fuse science
and the arts together to create an educational and entertaining cabaret experience.

More information coming soon



27th August at 7pm

Henry VIII:
Disease, divorce and treason

Henry VIII is one of England’s most recognised and popular monarchs. We are fascinated by his wives, his palaces and his battleships. But how did Henry’s health shape the course of his life?

What turned him from a young, athletic prince into an overweight tyrant?


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.