Old Operating Theatre review (Mar 2015)
This is out-of-date! I have been here again since I wrote this review
This is a strange old place. It's a very modern street outside, with busy cars and concrete offices, but as soon as you're through the door its straight up some winding wooden stairs -- a bit like climbing up a castle turret. There are thirty-two very steep stairs up to an atmospheric little loft with wooden rafters and creaky old floorboards. It reminds me of my grandmother's old attic. Then it's just you and a few tourists walking around the old tables and displays.
The museum is all about doctors and medicines in the early 19th-century, and the cabinets are full of gruesome treatments like worm cakes and maggot wash. (I think I'd rather be ill than have the cure.) They've got a lot of torture equipment too: forceps and blunt blades. Some of the forceps are big enough to pull a football out. Then you've got all the tubes and trumpets and funnels that they used to stick up your... I won't say where (I don't want to spoil your dinner). My favourite piece was the "decapitating hook". I don't know what it was for, and to be honest I don't want to know either.
They've got an apothecary table full of dusty old bottles and baskets of snuff and seeds and leaves. Pickled hearts and human kidneys too, and a nice slice of uterus, if that is your fancy. It reminds me of a witch's kitchen -- like a little old cottage that you'd stumble across in the woods. All that is missing is a big cauldron to cook up her medicines.
The second room is also the last room (there are only two real rooms) -- the old operating theatre itself. It's like a little amphitheatre I suppose, made entirely of wood. There are five rows of standing balconies looking over a couple of tables in the middle, and that's where the poor patient must have sat.
Imagine what it must have been like to lay naked on that table, whilst 200 people stood around the balconies watching you scream! There was no general anaesthetic in those days, so you would have been wide awake whilst the doctor chopped all your bits up. As the blood and tears filled up your eyes all you'd see is a semi-circle wall of ghouls staring back at you. People died in that room. People got worked on and chopped up and cut and sliced and held down tight so they couldn't move about. Imagine that wooden floor washed in sloppy blood, people slipping and sliding and trying to teach the new recruits as some poor bugger was writhing and crying on the slab. Keep still, man! Stop writhing about for chrissakes! I'm trying to teach some kids here!
So is it worth a visit? Not really. I'm glad I saw it because I'm nosey like that, but unless you've got a particular interest in medicine you're better off spending your money elsewhere. The price is a bit silly for just two rooms.
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