Tickets and Discounts for The Old Operating Theatre

This post lists ticket prices and visiting information for the Old Operating Theatre Museum in London near London Bridge.

 

 


ABOUT THE MUSEUM

The old operating theatre is a unique survival of a bygone era of medicine.

This little museum is affordable and never very crowded, making it an accessible and interesting addition to your London itinerary.

It is the oldest surviving operating theatre in the country and was used before medical breakthroughs like anaesthetics and antiseptics for surgery existed.

The garret here would have been where the hospital apothecary’s medicinal herbs were kept, giving visitors a glimpse back in time.

The operating theatre was built in 1822 after a new 1815 Apothecary Act was passed, requiring apprentice apothecaries dispensing herbs to surgeons to observe surgeries taking place.

Before this, most surgery simply took place at the patient’s bedside – space was confined and anybody else in the room or on the floor could hear the patient’s screams!

 

 

This 1815 law meant that operating theatres began to pop up, attached to hospitals throughout the country.

The Old Operating Theatre here in London Bridge was affixed to the edge of the women’s surgical ward at the old St. Thomas’s Hospital.

The theatre consists of an operating table and work-space on the floor with horseshoe-shaped benches surrounding at multiple levels so that hundreds of apprentices could fit in to view the operation taking place.

The creation of these theatres actually opened up a process where patients could volunteer to have their surgery carried out under supervision.

Having surgery inside an operating theatre, for the benefit of apprentices, meant that patients would be receiving the best possible medical care they could.

 


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TICKETS

This section lists the ticket prices for the main ticket tier levels available at the museum. But why pay full price when you could get in at a discount?

Check out the discount section below to get it for cheap or free.

General Admission

  • Adults: £6.50
  • Concessions: £5.00
  • Under 18s: £3.50

Victorian Surgery Demonstration Talks

 


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DISCOUNTS

This section lists the possible discounts you can find on tickets to the Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garret Museum.


Attraction Discount Passes

If you’re planning on visiting multiple museums and attractions, you should consider getting a tourist attraction discount pass. 

The passes bundle admission prices for heavy discounts when you purchase upfront. 

 

 

Admission to the Old Operating Theatre is included on the all-inclusive London Pass. 

Other attractions on this pass include: 

Check out our post on London city passes for more information and attractions.


2 for 1

If you plan on using London’s National Rail to get around the city, you can take advantage of their 2 for 1 program and get two tickets to the Museum for the price of one!

For more details about this service and how to use it, please read our post about London 2 for 1 deals.


Concession Tickets

If you qualify as a student or visitor over 60 years old, you can get admission for £5.00.


Family Ticket

The family ticket covers 2 adults and up to 2 children under 18 years old for £15.00. Each additional child adds £1.00.


Military Discount

Unfortunately, we could not find any military discounts for the Old Operating Theatre.


Discount Sites

Every now and then a service such as Groupon will provide discounted admission to locations like the Old Operating Theatre or combo packages which include tickets to this attraction.

 


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PLAN YOUR VISIT

This section lists information to help you plan your visit, such as opening hours, transportation, and security details.


How to Get Here

The museum is located at 9a St Thomas Street, London, SE1 9RY

 

Old Operating Theatre Museum Location

 

Underground Stations:

  • London Bridge on the Northern and Jubilee lines
  • Monument on the Circle and District lines is across London Bridge

Rail Stations:

  • London Bridge

Bus Lines: 

  • 17, 21, 35, 40, 43, 47, 48, 133, 141, 149, 343, 381, 521, RV1

Hop-On-Hop-Off:


Museum Operating Hours

The museum is open every day of the week, except for specific dates. 

Check the website to make sure General Admission is open on the day of your visit.

Mondays

  • 14:00 – 17:00 (2:00 pm – 5:00 pm)

Tuesdays – Fridays

  • 10:30 – 17:00 (10:30 am – 5:00 pm)

Saturdays – Sundays

  • 12:00 – 16:00 (12:00 pm – 4:00 pm)

You can also find Weekend Victorian Surgery Talks at 11:00 am and 16:00 (4:00 pm) on Saturdays and Sundays. 


Accessibility

Unfortunately, there is no disabled access to the museum, since it is located in the attic of a 300-year-old church at the top of 52 steps. 

If you call ahead, the staff will work with you to see if assistance can be offered. 

There are braille guides available.


Bags and Backpacks

You must walk up a spiral staircase consisting of 52 steps to get to the old operating theatre. We suggest finding a luggage storage location from one of the companies in this post so you won’t be weighed down by your backpacks and bags.

 


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WHAT YOU’LL SEE

This section is a quick rundown of the points of interest you’ll find in the museum.


The Main Operating Theatre

Today the old operating theatre is open to be explored and has been available for public visitation since the 1960s.

 


This photo is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 

Guests can walk through the theatre where the surgeries used to take place.


The Herb Garret

the Herb Garret here, showing what the apothecary’s workroom would have looked like. Here guests are shown the herbs and methods that would have been used to alleviate pain and aid surgery in a time before anaesthesia and antibacterial soaps!


Surgical Artefacts

Also on display are a number of medical artefacts. Instruments used for medical reasons that today look more like torture devices are on display with explanations of their development and use.

 


This photo is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 


St. Thomas’ Church

The church building was originally known as St. Thomas’ Hospital and was a hospital and convent in one during the 1200s. The operating theatre itself was built in the Herb Garret during 1821. You’ll make your way through the church on your way to the garret at the top of the building.

 


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About the author

An American simply by accident of birth, Margaret moved to London over 15 years ago and hasn’t looked back since! With a keen interest in History – and a BA degree to match – Margaret prides herself on her knowledge of the amazing city she calls home and she's been guiding here now for nearly a decade. Social history is her real expertise, with sound understanding of the day-to-day lives of Londoners over the past centuries.