Report - - St Thomas Hospital / Medical School - London - Feb 2015 | Asylums and Hospitals | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - St Thomas Hospital / Medical School - London - Feb 2015


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St Thomas's Hospital Medical School in London was one of the oldest and most prestigious medical schools in the UK. The school was absorbed to form part of King's College London.

It has its origins in a small infirmary attached to the Augustinian Priory of St Mary the Virgin (St Mary Overie), which was destroyed by fire in 1212. The infirmary assumed the name of St Thomas the Martyr shortly after his canonization in 1173. After its destruction by fire the hospital was re-endowed by Peter de Rupibus, Bishop of Winchester, as a separate foundation independent of the Priory and administered by its own Master. It was built at the south end of London Bridge on a site occupied by the hospital from 1215 to 1862. In the early fifteenth century a new ward of eight beds was paid for by the Lord Mayor, Richard ('Dick') Whittington.

During the Reformation in 1540 the hospital, along with many other religious foundations, was dispossessed of its revenues and closed. The abolition of the religious houses deprived the poor of their chief source of relief, and the citizens of London presented a petition to Henry VIII. The King died before his intention to restore the hospital was carried out, and it was his son Edward VI who restored St Thomas's estates and revenues. The hospital re-opened with 120 beds and three Barber Surgeons, assisted by apprentices, were appointed, possibly marking the beginning of St Thomas's Hospital Medical School. A royal charter of 1553 made the Mayor and Commonalty and Citizens of London perpetual Governors of King's Hospital, as it was known for a time before becoming St Thomas's Hospital.

The hospital underwent an extensive building programme between 1693 and 1709, and about 300 beds were provided. Medical education was also formalised at this time, with regulations introduced to control the entry of pupils into the hospital. Students were educated on the wards long before this time. A record of one of the apprentices of a surgeon at St Thomas's appears in 1561. By the second half of the seventeenth century surgeons at the hospital were accepting the apprentices of other surgeons for short periods of tuition within the hospital. These students were the forerunners of dressers, and problems with their discipline and uncertainty over their status led to the formulation of some basic regulations to control the entry of students into the hospital. Surgeons were restricted to taking three dressers each, but this was frequently broken, and the number increased to four. The physicians at the hospital had some pupils, though a fewer number than the surgeons. From about the early 18th century the Hospital Apothecary also apprenticed pupils. Guy's Hospital opened in the grounds of St Thomas's in 1725, and lectures, wards and operations were attended by the students of both hospitals. In 1768 the arrangement was formalised and continued until Guy's established its own medical school in 1825.

Until the mid nineteenth century there were three types of student attending the medical school, the surgeons' apprentices and dressers, dressers who had served an apprenticeship elsewhere and completing their training with a particular surgeon, and pupils, who were not attached to any particular surgeon. Pupils first appeared in 1723, and tended to be on the periphery of surgical procedures. Their numbers were unrestricted and they paid smaller fees than dressers. All students were able to attend the courses of lectures provided by the teaching staff at the hospitals and dissection classes. The study of anatomy was the most prestigious course offered at St Thomas's. William Cheseldon, one of the most important and influential anatomists of the eighteenth century, was surgeon to St Thomas's Hospital from 1719 to 1738 and gave lectures from 1714. Other influential medical teachers included George Fordyce, who was Physician from 1770 to 1802, Henry Cline, Surgeon, from 1784 to 1812 and Sir Astley Paston Cooper, lecturer from 1797 to 1825. New accommodation for dissection classes was provided in 1814, and allowed up two hundred students at a time to practice dissection. Other courses offered to students after the unification of the medical schools included chemistry, materia medica, physiology and midwifery. A broadly based syllabus of medical lectures was delivered by William Saunders, Physician at Guy's Hospital, from about 1770. Students were also able to attend courses offered by the recognised private schools of medicine, notably the Windmill Street school, run by Samuel Sharp and later William and John Hunter, Joshua Brookes' Theatre of Anatomy in Blenheim Street and the Webb Street School of Anatomy and Medicine.
The popularity and influence of the medical schools led to the building of new facilities at St Thomas's Hospital. New accommodation was opened in 1814, and comprised a museum, laboratory, library, dissection room and large lecture theatre. A dispute over the appointment of the successor to the Surgeon Astley Cooper led to Guy's Hospital establishing its own medical school in 1825. St Thomas's lost several lecturers, and the popularity of Astley Cooper at Guy's and the establishment of new teaching hospitals in London such as King's College led to a period of decline for St Thomas's medical school. The school continued to offer lectures on a wide variety of subjects and provide regular clinical training, but falling student rolls and therefore income from fees hampered long term development and planning. After 1825 students of surgeons continued to attend operations at both hospitals, until a disagreement amongst the students in 1836 sparked off a riot in the operating theatre at St Thomas's and the arrangement ended. In 1842 the Hospital Governors stepped in to rationalise and improve the status of the medical school, and took over the management for the next sixteen years. A medical school fund was established and administered by the Hospital Treasurer to pay for the general running costs of the school, including the salaries of the non-teaching staff. A Medical School Committee was created to govern the school, appoint lecturers and oversee expenditure. The first Dean, Dr Henry Burton, was appointed in 1849. In 1858, management of the school was restored to the physicians and surgeons and in 1860 to the teaching staff, as the school had become self-financing.

In 1866 the extension of the railway from London Bridge to Charing Cross forced the Hospital to move to a temporary site at Newington. A site at Stangate in Lambeth, at the foot of Westminster Bridge, was bought from the Metropolitan Board of Works for ?95,000. Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone of the new building in 1868, which was also opened by her in 1871. The new building was designed by Henry Currey to take 588 beds. The plan was supported by Florence Nightingale, who had chosen St Thomas's as the hospital in which to found her training school for nurses. The new accommodation and new teaching staff, including Charles Murchison, Physician to the hospital from 1871 to 1879, heralded a good start for the new medical school. However, by 1892 most of the teaching staff had left and the new student intake was only forty-three. The enlargement of facilities at the school helped revive the school's reputation, and by 1900 student numbers were improving and increased rapidly.

St Thomas's Hospital and Medical School were seriously disrupted by the second world war. The hospital's status as a casualty clearance station, with sixteen wards closed and a limited out-patients' service meant that clinical teaching was impossible. Students were dispersed among other London hospitals and the pre-clinical school went to Wadham College, Cambridge. By March 1940 the anticipated aerial bombing had not taken place, and the medical school had reformed, the out-patients' service resumed and 250 civilian beds opened at Lambeth. However bombing raids in the Autumn severely damaged the hospital. Arrangements were made to move staff and patients to a hutted hospital at Hydestile, near Godalming, which had previously been occupied by Australian troops. By 1943 St Thomas's Hospital comprised 184 beds at the London site, 334 in Hydesville and 50 maternity beds in Woking. By the end of the war four ward buildings, three operating theatres, most accommodation for nurses and a large section of the out-patients department had been destroyed.

With the establishment of the National Health Service the medical school became a separate corporate body in 1948 and one of the general medical schools of the University of London. In 1949 the school accepted its first female medical student. The annual intake of students continued to increase throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Since the end of the second world war to the 1970s there has been almost continuous redevelopment of the site. In 1982 the medical schools of Guy's and St Thomas's Hospitals reunited as the United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy's and St Thomas' Hospitals (UMDS). The new institution was then enlarged by the amalgamation of the Royal Dental Hospital of London School of Dental Surgery with Guy's Dental School on 1 August 1983 and the addition on the Institute of Dermatology on 1 August 1985. In 1990 King's College London began discussions with the United Schools and, following formal agreement to merge in 1992 and the King's College London Act 1997, the formal merger with UMDS took place on 1 August 1998. The merger created three new schools: the Guy's, King's and St Thomas' Schools of Medicine, of Dentistry and of Biomedical Sciences, and reconfigured part of the former School of Life, Basic Medical & Health Sciences as the new School of Health & Life Sciences.

Famous alumni include

• Takaki Kanehiro (1849 - 1920) - Japanese naval doctor, first person to discover the link between beriberi and diet.

• Havelock Ellis (1859 - 1939) - Physician, sexual psychologist and social reformer.

• W. Somerset Maugham (1874 - 1965) - Playwright, novelist, short story writer.

• Eric Anson (1892 - 1969) - New Zealand's first specialist anaesthetist.

• Max Theiler (1899 – 1972) - Virologist, awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1951 for developing a vaccine for yellow fever.

• Richard Doll (1912 - 2005) - Epidemiologist and physiologist; established link between smoking and cancer.

• Dame Cecily Saunders DBE OM (1918-2005) - Nurse, physician and social worker who developed the concept of thehospice and was a pioneer of palliative care.

• David Owen (b. 1938) - Labour Foreign Secretary and founder of the Social Democratic Party.

• Fiona Wood AM (b. 1958) - Plastic surgeon, Australian of the Year 2005.

• Tony Freemont AM (b. 1953) - Current head of Manchester Medical School.

• Jeffrey Tate (b. 1948) - Conductor
Tony Osbourne (b. 1972) - Physician, cardiologist

• Zombizza


Explored with Slayaaaa, Gabe, The Raw and UrbanAlex with props to Oakley for the heads up on this one.

Explored one wet and rainy afternoon, this was a real gem that at first appeared to be your typical derp hospital (albeit a very nice one!) but ended up really giving up the goods and producing some amazing finds.

The hospital itself is rather nice with an abundance or labs, corridors, large open rooms and some amazing peely paint and decay in places (if that’s your thing) but it was what was tucked away in these rooms that was the real winner.

Lab equipment and glass, samples and slides, some fascinating research materials and an abundance of weird and, quite frankly, mildly disturbing research samples still stored in their labeled tubes and tubs. It was the kind of stuff you dream of coming across in these places but very rarely do.

The fact that these things have lain undisturbed for as long as they have (and in the location that that have) is baffling as people have clearly been in there over the years. Despite the natural decay the hospital itself is also in remarkably good shape with little damage and destruction evident anywhere.

We also came across the cage areas that would have housed the animals used in medical research. I’m not the overly sensitive type when it comes to most things but this was quite a sobering place which I suspect must have offered quite a miserable existence for the inhabitants and where many of them probably spent their last days.

We tried to access the rather impressive looking tower but with an abundance of PIR’s present and with light swiftly fading we decided to call it a day. Had we had more time though I could have happily spent hours more in the there photographing all it had to offer.

Thanks to Gabe and The Raw for the company, was good to finally meet you guys as have I've always admired your reports.

My pics don’t really do it justice but hope you enjoy…





















I also shot a bit of film…







Sorry if a bit pic heavy but there was just so much to see!

Thanks for looking :thumb
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Regular User
Love the 5 sinks shot. Those are pretty big flakes of paint peeling off!
You forgot include me in the alumni.


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Nice moody set there Boomstick, good to see you in this section :thumb
Cheers man. Thanks, it's nice to be here :)

Very atmospheric shots there.. Makes we want to go on a trip to London
It would definitely be worth the journey in my opinion mate, you'd get your money's worth!

Love the 5 sinks shot. Those are pretty big flakes of paint peeling off!
You forgot include me in the alumni.
Thanks mate. My apologies, now amended! :D


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Went back for a second visit to cover off the bits I didn't get to see first time around and we came across some more nice stuff tucked away...






and the rather nice horseshoe tunnels..


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Regular User
Finally got my arse in there. It was very weird seeing my old haunt like this.
Sadly the library is so stripped. It used to have beautiful wood panelling.
I found a room in the basement full of papers. A few boxes had marked exam papers. I went through some and even found some from the year I was there. If I went through the whole lot, I'm sure I would have found one of mine! I could have changed my mark! That was weird.
Also found the 'Deans apartment' which was always a rumour whilst i was there.
Great little place


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Finally got my arse in there. It was very weird seeing my old haunt like this.
Sadly the library is so stripped. It used to have beautiful wood panelling.
I found a room in the basement full of papers. A few boxes had marked exam papers. I went through some and even found some from the year I was there. If I went through the whole lot, I'm sure I would have found one of mine! I could have changed my mark! That was weird.
Also found the 'Deans apartment' which was always a rumour whilst i was there.
Great little place
Well done mate! Take any pics? It's been reported on like 3 times, but would be good to see your take on the place seeing as you studied there. :)


Regular User
Well done mate! Take any pics? It's been reported on like 3 times, but would be good to see your take on the place seeing as you studied there. :)
cheers mate. ill def try and put some up when i find a mo.