Enjoy some speed surgery -- Victorian style!
In the days before anaesthesia and antibiotics had been invented operations had to be extremely quick, because the chances of a patient dying on the table or getting an infection were high. (And also the constant screaming must have got on their nerves.) If the patient was lucky he would pass out from the pain within the first few seconds, but if he was made of sterner stuff then all he had to dull the pain was a pre-show whiskey and a block of wood to bite on.
They were made of tough stuff in those days! We don't appreciate how nice and easy we've got it nowadays -- all we have to do now is put our pyjamas on before the doctors knock us out with some sleeping potion. But if you'd like to get a taste of the horrors that the Victorians had to endure then get yourself down to the Old Operating Theatre for a demonstration.
The Old Operating Theatre is a remarkable time-capsule that has somehow managed to survive in the rafters of the old St. Thomas's Hospital. It is sitting at the top of a tower near The Shard, and when you tiptoe up the creaky old stairs you find yourself in a... er... how can we best describe it? -- it's like a witch's cottage in the forest. It sounds daft, but you will totally understand what we mean when you see it. Check out the photos in Craig's review of the Old Operating Theatre to show you we're not joking.
The actual Operating Theatre itself is like a mini-amphitheatre, with some wooden balconies around a table in the pit. That's where the patient will be lying (screaming) while you watch (cower) in the stands. Whilst he is writhing in pain the doctor will explain some of the methods the Victorians used, and how they compare with the methods today.
Craig has never been to this actual event (he's too frightened), but have a read of that review on his blog to see what the Operating Theatre is like inside.
If you're interested in early medicine then you might like to give the Florence Nightingale Museum a try as well. Or how about the Alexander Fleming Museum in Paddington Hopsital? The Science Museum has quite a lot of exhibits about early medicine.
> Craig’s review of Old Operating Theatre – “You'll find the Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garret in an attic at the top of a tower, and you have to climb up a tight and winding wooden staircase to reach it. It's not your normal kind of museum. It's like a creaky-old cottage in the rafters -- a bit like a witch's cottage in the woods. You probably think that I'm exaggerating, but I promise you I'm not. I'm bein… continued”
Medieval Banquet, with minstrels and knights – Wed to Sun – Enjoy a medieval banquet and be entertained by English knights and singing minstrels and King Henry VIII.
Berberian Sound Studio at Donmar Warehouse – 8 Feb to 30 Mar 2019 – The Donmar Warehouse is putting on a production of Berberian Sound Studio - based on Peter Strickland's horror movie
Berberian Sound Studio at Old Operating Theatre – 7 Mar to 9 May 2019 – Visit the 19th-century Operating Theatre after-hours and witness what a Victorian operation was like from the stands
Ghost Stories at Lyric Hammersmith – 29 Mar to 11 May 2019 – Chill your blood with Ghost Stories - a terrifying theatrical experience filled with real shocks that will turn your hair white!
Slavery, Culture & Collecting – 15 Sep 2018 to 15 Sep 2019 – This exhibition explores the connection between some of Britain's oldest cultural organisations and transatlantic slavery
Moments of Silence — Imperial War Museum – 21 Sep 2018 to 31 Mar 2019 – Moments of Silence uses recordings of the silences captured at Remembrance Services at 11 AM on 11th November
Renewal — Life After The First World War – 21 Sep 2018 to 31 Mar 2019 – An exhibition of black and white photos showing the rebuilding and changes that took place after World War I.
If you enjoy Old Operating Theatre then you might like to visit Fleming Museum (catch the train from London Bridge to Paddington) and Florence Nightingale Museum (walk it in 28 mins or catch the tube from London Bridge to Waterloo)
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