• Ginglesnuff

Old Operating Theatre, 8th August

It was my birthday in August which gave me an excuse to take a day off and do something off the beaten track without the hoardes of tourists around to spoil things. My choice was the Old Operating Theatre which I have been wanting to visit for a good long while now.

The reason to visit is its grisly history. A herb garden at one point where plants for medicinal purposes were grown, it was also home to one of the early operating theatres where they operated on women before the age of anaesthetic and antiseptic. It's fascinating to read about, safe from a point in history where this can only be imagined. They had the right idea about the operations they were performing in many instances but were so woefully clueless about infection that people rarely survived.

The little museum does a good job of explaining the history and keeping it interesting and the right side of morbid. Upstairs they make the most of the herb side and how this part of old St Thomas's hospital was used, with displays showing the various medicines that could be made and the history of the building. Then you move round and into where the operations were held and observed, allowing you to imagine being the person in the middle of the room. Stark.

It's very close to Flat Iron Square where I would heartily recommend stopping off for some lunch and a glass or two of something.

From there, I went to the London Mithraeum which is where an old Temple to Mithraeus was found (more or less). This was a really good half an hour or so of history; you get to practically walk into the temple (albeit over glass) and they've concocted a bit of an immersive audio and light show to recreate what it might have been like to worship at this altar. And it's free!

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