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The Royal London museum

The Museum is located in the former crypt of a fine, late 19th century, early English style church, designed by Arthur Cawston, which has been extensively restored.

 

RLHM General Image 1

About the museum

The building also accommodates the Library of the School of Medicine and Dentistry at Whitechapel. Visitors wishing to see the main body of the church can on weekdays, subject to the approval of the Duty Librarian at the Library reception desk.

The Museum has sections on the history of the hospital since its foundation in 1740, Joseph Merrick (the 'Elephant Man'), and former London hospital nurses Edith Cavell and Eva Luckes. A showcase on forensic medicine features original material on the Whitechapel ('Jack the Ripper') murders and hospital surgeon and curator, Thomas HorrocksOpenshaw who helped investigate. It also has a permanent exhibition of artefacts and archives relating to the hospital and the history of healthcare in the East End. Works of art, surgical instruments, medical and nursing equipment, uniforms, medals, and written archives and printed books are included. 

The Museum is in three sections: the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

RLHM Edith Cavell Image 2

The 18th century section features an overview, together with specific subsections on the foundation of the voluntary hospital, benefactors, medical education and health in the 18th century. Among the original material displayed are the hospital charter of 1758, a drawing given by the artist William Hogarth in 1744 and the operation bell of 1792.

The 19th century section features an overview, together with subsections on surgery before antisepsis (including instruments belonging to hospital surgeon Sir William Blizard), nursing and Florence Nightingale, hospital expansion, hospital matron Eva Luckes, Dr Barnardo, Frederick Treves and the Elephant Man and Victorian doctors. Objects on show include a replica of a hat and veil worn by Joseph Merrick and documents relating to his residence at the hospital, contemporary surgical instruments and medical equipment.

The 20th century section features subsections on children and health, x-rays, the First and Second World Wars, Nurse Edith Cavell Nurse Edith Cavell, hospital Chairman Lord Knutsford, cardiology, blood transfusion, obstetrics and the National Health Service. Visitors can see an x-ray machine from the 1930’s and a carbon arc lamp used to give ultra violet light treatment to King George V in 1928. A changing display sponsored by the late Dr Mona Grey (1910 - 2009), first recipient of the Royal College of Nursling's lifetime achievement award, celebrating nurses who have made a difference. The museum welcomes suggestions of nurses, past and present to include in the gallery - please contact the Archivist with your suggestions.

There are special sections on hospital uniform (usually four uniforms are on show), forensic medicine (including material on the Jack the Ripper murders) and dentistry (including a denture made for George Washington). The picture below shows an old post mortem set.

RLHM Post Mortem Set Image 3

There is a video viewing facility where four films are currently available for viewing by Museum visitors:

  • QED: the true story of the Elephant Man (BBC Television, 1997)
  • 'Behind the shadow of Merrick' a film by David Hevey in which people with disabilities talk about their feelings about their own experience of life as spectacles (2008) 
  • Not so much a training: more a way of life (nurse training at The London in 1968)
  • Casualty 1906 (Stone City film 2006).

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Opening times

Please note the museum will be closed on Tuesday 23 September.

The Museum is open Tuesday to Friday, 10am-4.30pm (closed over Christmas, New Year, Easter and public holidays). 

The Museum has a small number of staff 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 calling 020 7377 7608.

Group visits

The Museum welcomes groups intending to visit either to view the display and/or to receive a guided tour. For more details on how to arrange for a group visit our group visits page here.

Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

If you would like to make a donations to The Royal London Hospital Archives Fund please either email appeals@bartshealth.nhs.uk or call 020 7618 1720

Disabled access

For wheelchair users there is ramped access to the museum from Newark Street. For more details about our access provisions please download our Access Statement.

Museum shop

The Museum shop sells a range of cards, postcards and publications. Find a list of publications available here.

Find us

The Museum is located in the former crypt of St Philip's Church. The entrance is on Newark Street at the eastern end of the church. The address is:

St Augustine with St Philip's Church,
Newark Street,
London E1 2AA

Find out how to get to the museum by downloading our map here.

Contact us

Archivist Jonathan Evans

Address:
Royal London Hospital Museum,
The Royal London Hospital,
Whitechapel Road,
London E1 1BB

Tel: 020 7377 7608
Email: rlharchives@bartshealth.nhs.uk

For more information about our museums, download our information leaflet here.

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