Old Operating Theatre

  • About
    The Operating Theatre (operating or emergency room) is found in the roof space of an English Baroque Church. At first glance this placement seems bizarre. But it makes more sense when it is realised that the wards of the South Wing of St. Thomas's Hospital were built around St. Thomas's Church. Dorcas was the women's surgical ward. Before 1822, the women were operated on in the ward - this must have caused some considerable distress. In 1815 the Apothecary's Act, which required apprentice apothecaries to attend at public hospitals, meant that hordes of students poured in to watch operations.

    Placing the Theatre in the Herb Garret of the Church provided a separation from the ward. It gave a separate entrance for students, and afforded a measure of sound proofing. It was also approximately at the same level as the women's surgical ward which aided the transport of patients to the theatre. The Theatre was purpose built to maximise the light from above, with a large skylight. Although not heated or ventilated, it provided an ideal, albeit small, area for demonstrating surgical skills.

    Until 1847, surgeons had no recourse to anaesthetics and depended on swift technique (surgeons could perform an amputation in a minute or less), the mental preparation of the patient and alcohol or opiates to dull the patient's senses. Thereafter ether or chloroform started to be used. The Operating Theatre had closed down before antiseptic surgery was invented. The majority of cases were for amputations or superficial complaints as, without antiseptic conditions, it was too dangerous to carry out internal operations.
  • Address
    9a St. Thomas's St
    London
    SE1 9RY

Connected Mandy members:

Max Marcq
Max Marcq
Actor
2017, Rebel Angel
Henry Stephens / Leigh Hunt
Nadine Barr
Nadine Barr
Actor
2016, Surgeon to the Dead
Flossie
Lydia Piechowiak
2016, Spooky Action at a Distance
Zorka Drava
Olivia Warren
2015, The Academy of Melancholy
Violinist
Nadine Barr
Nadine Barr
Actor
2015, The Academy of Melancholy
Flossie
Louisa-May Parker
2015, Surgeon to the Dead
Dr Brownell
Kamal Simpson
2014, The Curiosity Cabaret
Dr John Alcindor
Nelly Scott
Nelly Scott
Actor
2014, The Curiosity Cabaret
Mr. James Barry
Stuart Glover
Stuart Glover
Lighting Designer
2011, Whose Blood
Lighting and Sound Operator
Alain English
2009, Poem Incarnating Theatre: Incisions and Excavations
Ensemble
Liz Jadav
Liz Jadav
Actor
2009, Incisions and Excavations
Ensemble
Sarah Jayne Deery
2009, Incisions & Excavations
Bess
James Thorne
James Thorne
Actor
2007, A Bloodless Field
Fettes/Ben
Lauren Patman
Lauren Patman
Stage Manager
2007, A Bloodless Field
Stage Manager
Adam Burns
Adam Burns
Company Stage Manager
2007, A Bloodless Field
Production Manager
Martina Moss-Clarke
2007, A Bloodless Field
Jane/Girl
Mark Bernard
Mark Bernard
Actor
1997, Deathwatch
Maurice
Jonathan Ward
Jonathan Ward
Composer
1996, Vesalius – a Requiem
Recording and production of supporting music