The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret.

A twisty turny wooden staircase will lead you into the roof of St Thomas’ Church, Southwark.
Here you will find the oldest operating theatre in Europe (built 1822) and the Herb Garret (built 1703), used by the hospital’s apothecary to store and cure herbs.

The operating theatre was in use up until 1862 until the hospital was relocated, and then it lay hidden, for nearly a hundred years .

Wonderfully atmospheric, beautiful Herb Garret, slightly eerie operating theatre (and tools). Interesting to imagine a time when anaesthetics and antibiotics had not yet been discovered.

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The Old Operating Theatre
9a St Thomas St, London SE1 9RY (One minute from London Bridge Underground)
Open:10:30 – 5pm Daily
Cost Adult: £6.50


Florence Nightingale Museum

Although small, the museum is cleverly divided into threes sections.  
The first tells the early family life of Florence and her sister Parthenope, exploring their upbringing and how, against the odds, Florence pursued her “calling” to become a nurse.

The second sections explores Florence’s commission to head up a team of nurses going to Scutari, during the Crimean war  “The Lady with the Lamp . And the final section looks at Florence’s return to the UK and her unrelenting work as a social reformer and so much more.

Each section has six or more audio guides dotted around interesting artefacts as well as little “spy holes”  through hedging to see photographs and drawings (can’t really explain, you will just have to go see for yourself!)

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Do find time to see the other heroes of the Crimean War and First World War, including Edith Cavell, a nurse who managed to save 200 prisoners of war escape, with the aid of her trusty dog, Jack. This year marks the centenary of her death.

Also Mary Seacole, a Jamaican born nurse, who, after her offer of assistance was refused by the war office, set off independently to the front line to offer “succour for wounded servicemen on the battlefield.”

Did you know funds are being raised to create a memorial statue of Mary Seacole at St Thomas’s hospital?

Also, in 2015 a competition called Kings Cross 1-10,000, chose “Mary Seacole Street”  as one of 34 short listed out of 10,000 suggestions for their new road names!

Florence Nightingale Museum
2 Lambeth Palace Road, London, SE1 7EW
Cost Adult: £7

Other Sites of interest:

Kirkaldy Testing Museum

The museum is open the first Sunday of each month

In 1874 the Kirkaldy Test Works was set up by David Kirkaldy, a  Scottish engineer. Its purpose was to independently test construction materials. The first of its kind.

Kirkaldy’s machine and other machines have been restored and preserved in the same building that is now a museum. So if you know your tension from your torsion you have come to the right place.

“Facts not Opinions” was David Kirkaldy’s mantra, emblazoned  onto his building.

On a recent visit (3/10/2015) I had an excellent tour guide, a German engineer. As well as knowledgable we even had demos of the machines. All the guides are volunteers.

The museum was also taking part in Merge Arts Festival (Bankside) and the downstairs basement had been converted into an interactive art installation that was thoughtfully reflective of the museum.

Kirkaldy Testing Museum
99 Southwark St, London, SE1 0JF
Website: Testing Museum
Cost Adult: £5
The museum is open the first Sunday of each month