About us>>Museums and Archives>>St Bartholomew's Museum

St Bartholomew's Museum

About the museum

Set in the historic North Wing of St Bartholomew’s Hospital, the Museum tells the story of this renowned institution, celebrates its achievements and explains its place in history.

Operation on a ward 1890

A video relates the foundation of the hospital and life-size models bring the history of Barts to life. Sound recordings tell the story of the hospital’s staff from its earliest times. At the press of a button, visitors are transported back into the world of a 13th century sister, a 15th century apprentice surgeon, and a nurse in the new NHS of 1948.

The Museum exhibits original and facsimile archives dating back to the 12th century, among them the agreement between Henry VIII and the City of London which refounded the hospital. Henry’s signature can be seen in the top left-hand corner. This magnificent document, complete with the Great Seal of Henry VIII, is one of the most important treasures of the hospital.

Grant from Rahere to Hagno the clerk 1137 - the earliest document in the Barts hospital archives

The oldest document in the hospital archives is Rahere’s grant of 1137, and a facsimile can be seen in the Museum. Sealed in the presence of Rahere, the founder of Barts, this deed has remained in the hospital ever since, except perhaps during the Fire of London in 1666.

Objects from the hospital’s unique historical collections are also exhibited, including works of art, and surgical and medical equipment used in the hospital. Visitors can view a case of amputation instruments which belonged to John Abernethy, surgeon to the hospital in 1815-27, and the tools of the apothecary’s trade, including pill-making equipment, scales and drug bottles.

Visitors can learn about William Harvey, physician to Barts from 1609-43 and discoverer of the circulation of the blood. The patients’ diet in earlier times is explained, and a volume of 19th century drawings and watercolours illustrates in graphic detail particular diseases and cases, including that of a patient with a large tumour of the tongue. His case notes are also displayed, and they record that he was ‘so much offended at having to sit with his tongue out’ that he discharged himself from the hospital.

Equipment used by nurses in their work is exhibited, such as feeding cups, a hypodermic syringe and items of uniform. The hospital’s role in the training of medical students is also covered.

The Museum overlooks the famous 18th century square designed by James Gibbs. Two vast and spectacular paintings by William Hogarth are also visible from the Museum.

The Museum shop sells a range of postcards and publications about the hospital.

Opening times

Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Service logo

The Museum is open Tuesday to Friday, 10am-4pm (closed over Christmas and New Year, Easter and public holidays).

The Museum is staffed by volunteers and our opening hours may be subject to change at short notice. We recommend that you check opening times before planning a special visit to the Museum by telephoning 020 7601 8152/8150.

Group visits
Small groups are welcome, but please telephone 020 7601 8152/8150 in advance to discuss requirements, as space is limited.

Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

Disabled access
Wheelchair access by arrangement. Induction loop.

Museum shop
The Museum shop sells a range of postcards and publications.

The Museum is situated under the North Wing archway.

Contact details

Archivists Samantha Farhall and Katie Ormerod

Address Archives and Museum, North Wing, St Bartholomew’s Hospital, West Smithfield, London, EC1A 7BE

Telephone 020 7601 8152/8150

E-mail barts.archives@bartsandthelondon.nhs.uk

More information

Images from St Bartholomews Hospital Museum

   Bust of Willian Harvey    
Bust of Willian Harvey

Image 1 of 5