Primary Schools

The Victorian A & E Hospital

Suitability: KS2 (Year 4 and 6) SEN students working at KS2 or above.

Maximum number of students: 32 

Duration: 90 minutes 

Cost: £3 50 per students. Teachers/helpers £3.50 per head    

Available: Tuesdays – Fridays (Term times only. One group only per day)

Session outline

This interactive workshop explores what it was like to have been a medical practitioner and patient in St Thomas’ Hospital during the 19th century.

Students will explore the role of an apothecary, creating their own herbal remedies to treat a range of illnesses, and also experience the ‘bloody’ world of surgery before the arrival of antiseptics and anaesthetics, when a mock amputation is performed on a volunteer.

This session provides an exciting way for young children to engage with history and encourages creative thinking and imagination.

Teacher and student’s comments:

“A wonderful visit to the Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garrett. The whole class thoroughly enjoyed it and learnt so much that I set the children a follow up task of creating a Trip Advisor style review which we cleverly called 'SchoolTrip Advisor'!

Here are some comments from their reviews:

St Joseph's Class - Year 4

I loved the staircase it was so narrow” - Marco

“I learned that we didn't always know how diseases spread”. - Mia

“The best bit was making pills” - Kiera

“The best bit was when we learnt about operations because it was a bit gruesome and really interesting”. - Jessica

“I liked learning about germs and how doctors didn't know about them”. - Simon

 Booking is now open for this session: fill out a booking enquiry form.

Secondary Schools

Victorian Surgery Brought to Life

Suitability: KS4 & 5

Maximum number of students: 50 

Duration: Approximately 60 minutes 

Cost: £3 50 per students. Teachers/helpers £3.50 per head    

Available: Tuesday – Saturday (am only)

Session outline

This session is held in Europe’s oldest surviving operating theatre, where hundreds of surgeons would have once gathered and learnt their trade by watching the various surgical procedures that took place. A group will experience the atmosphere of this uniquely evocative space, as Museum staff reconstruct an operation before the arrival of anaesthesia and antiseptics.

Learning Objective

  • Enable a deeper understanding of the problems associated with surgery before the developments of anaesthetics and antiseptics
  • Improve intellectual skills, namely the ability to identify the reasons why there was initial opposition to anaesthetics and antiseptics
  • Understand the significance of these developments upon technologies of healing and future generations of medical practitioners.

Curriculum links 

This stimulating session allows active exploration of curriculum subjects in relation to real historic artifacts . It specifically designed for KS4/5 students studying GCSE History, covering Edexcel: Medicine through time, c12 50-present. AQA: Health and the People

*A package of talk and walk is advised for groups of over 40 people. See our range of complementary walks.

Booking is now open for this session: fill out a booking enquiry form.

The Foundations of Contemporary Attitudes Towards Health, Illness, and the Body

Suitability: KS5 and above

Maximum number of students: 50 

Duration: Approximately 60 minutes 

Cost: 18 years or under: £3 50 per student. Over 18 years: £6 per student.  Accompanying teaching staff or group leaders will be charged  £3 50 per head 

Available: Tuesday – Saturday 

Session outline  

This session stimulates discussion around the extent to which categories such as ‘pain’ change over time. Medicine and surgery prior to the revolutionary discoveries of anaesthetics and antiseptics will be explored. By engaging with some of the Museum’s historic artifacts students will develop their interpretation skills and understand how diverse responses to health and illness reflected wider social and cultural change. An underlying theme will be the examination of the extent to which the nineteenth century laid the foundations for contemporary attitudes towards health and illness.

Curriculum links

This session is designed for medical undergraduates, those studying BTEC Diplomas in Health and Social Care and Access to Higher Education Diplomas. It will also be particularly beneficial to students on Humanities programmes. 

Tutor’s comments  

Masters students from several programmes at King’s College London benefit from seminars in the distinctive and thought provoking atmosphere of the St Thomas’ Herb Garret and Operating Theatre. By studying memoirs of surgeons who worked there and learning from the guided tour provided by staff, students see and feel the conditions in which early nineteenth-century, pre-anaesthesia surgery was practised and experienced by patients. The culture and material conditions of surgery, the prescribing, making-up and dispensing of medicines, as well as the medical student spectatorship come intensely to mind. It's a remarkable survival, providing very valuable teaching and learning opportunities in an unrivalled setting”.

Brian Hurwitz, Professor of Medicine and the Arts, King’s College London.

Booking is now open for this session: fill out a booking enquiry form.

Trip Advisor Certificate
Experts Choice 4