St. Bartholomew’s is one of the oldest hospitals in the world. A monk named Raheen, a former courier at the court of Henry I, founded the hospital. He had made a vow to found a hospital in London in exchange for surviving an illness he contracted while in Rome. Well needless to say he received his favor and he founded the hospital.
Watt Tyler was allegedly a patient here (he started the peasant revolt) at least for a brief time before he was dragged out and executed. In 1539 Henry VIII dissolved the priory but the hospital continued on. In 1544 the hospital was granted to the City of London. The church of St. Bartholomew the Less stands on the site of the hospital chapel.
The museum consists of cases of medical and surgical instruments. I was fascinated and appalled by the "lunatic restraints" and an amputation kit, ugh!!!! St. Bartholomew ‘s is also the home of a fine medical college and the nurses at St. Barts were considered among the best trained. It was at St. Barts that physician William Harvey discovered the circulatory system. There are two displays that have audio information one on the medical school and one on the nursing school.
St. Barts even has an art treasure. There are two huge paintings by William Hogarth on the hospitals Great Staircase. You get to view them through a doorway.
This is a small but interesting museum and we had a very enjoyable visit.
Entrance is free and the museum is open Tuesday-Friday 10am-4pm.
Take the circle line to Barbican. Leave the tube station and take a right and then another right. Cross the street and go down Cloth Fair to Smithfield market. Go left around the market past the Wallace Memorial and go through the gate and past St. Bartholomew the Less Church. Under the inside archway there is a door on the left, this is the museum.
November 13, 2002
From journal London-Once is Never Enough