London – Keats 2

The poet, John Keats, studied medicine at Guys Hospital for several years from October 1815. He became a licensed apothecary in 1816, but didn’t complete the surgical side of the course and left the hospital in 1817.

You can get some idea of the grim nature of the work of surgeons in the early 19th century, by visiting the Old Operating Theatre Museum. The museum which is just down the road from Guys Hospital, is in the garret of St Thomas church which was part of the old St Thomas Hospital. The operating theatre was built in 1822 and was literally a theatre with seats all round so that medical students could watch operations. Before anaesthetics, surgery undertaken there depended on the swift work of the surgeon, to save the patient as much pain as possible. And because the instruments and equipment were never cleaned, patients would often die from infection.

The museum has an extensive display of surgical equipment and other items including an apothecaries box that belonged to Keats.

Old Operating Theatre London



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