The London Hospital (now The Royal London Hospital) has cared for the community of East London since 1740, and the archive and museum collections document the hospital from its earliest days, as well as some of the fascinating patients, nurses and doctors who have passed through its doors. The archives also holds records of numerous other hospitals, charities, training institutions and individuals.
Visit the museum to find out more about the hospital’s history, its role in the development of modern medicine, and key figures including Edith Cavell and Joseph Merrick. You can make an appointment to visit the archives for your research. The objects on display in the museums are only a small part of the collections - to find out more, search our catalogue online.
The Royal London Hospital museum
Whether you live or work in Whitechapel, or are visiting the hospital, a visit to our museum is a real treat.
You’ll find a replica skeleton of Joseph Merrick (the ‘Elephant Man’), with original documentation from his residence in the hospital, alongside the original hospital charter of 1759.
Other displays include original surgical instruments used in the era before antisepsis, forensic medicine, hospital uniforms and dentistry equipment.
Our museum celebrates the lives of key figures such as Sir William Blizard, hospital matron Eva Luckes, Dr Barnardo, Frederick Treves and Edith Cavell, and looks at the impact of medical advances that took place in the hospital, on modern medicine and the local area.
A display sponsored by the late Dr Mona Grey (1910-2009) celebrates nurses who have made a difference to people’s lives. This changes regularly responding to suggestions from the public - please contact us if you have a proposal for the display.
We are located in part of the former crypt of St Philip’s Church.The grade II* listed church, was designed by Arthur Cawston and completed in 1892. The building now houses the library of Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry. It is possible to view the main interior of the church, subject to the approval of the duty librarian.
We are 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:
The Royal London Hospital Museum
St Augustine with St Philip’s Church
Our museums are free to enter, though a donation towards maintaining the collection is appreciated.
Open Tuesday to Friday, from 10am -12.30pm and again from 1pm - 4pm (closed over Christmas, New Year, Easter and public holidays).
Our museum is staffed by volunteers so we do need to close at short notice or alter our opening hours on occasion – we strongly recommend you check our twitter account for up-to-date information on openings or call us on 020 7377 7608 or 020 7480 4832 before making a special visit.
The museum is accessible for wheelchair users with ramped access. For more details about our access provisions, read The Royal London Hospital Museum's access statement.
I am Human – a walking tour of the Royal London Hospital
I am Human retells the story of the hospital’s most famous resident, Joseph Merrick, the so-called ‘Elephant Man’, through the eyes of Merrick himself. Based on sources held in the Hospital’s archives, the audio guide brings 1880s Whitechapel to life through the voices of Merrick, the Hospital’s celebrity surgeon Frederick Treves, its resourceful young Matron, Eva Luckes and a medical student training at the College. Follow a route around the old hospital site using the audio guide and/or accompanying walk leaflet, finishing up in the museum, where you can learn more about Merrick, Treves and Luckes.
Pick up a copy of the leaflet in the Royal London Hospital Museum or download a copy of the 'I am Human' walking tour leaflet [pdf] 3.7 MB.
Group visits are welcome. It is advisable to contact the museum in advance on 020 7377 7608 or email us to confirm that we are open on the day you plan to visit.
Space in the museum is limited; we can only accommodate up to 30 people at a time and so for larger groups we advise that your visit is staggered to avoid over-crowding.
We do not offer guided tours but can provide a short introduction to the group. A member of staff will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
The museum is a fantastic place to learn about the role of the hospital in the social history of east London and medical developments which led to today’s world-class hospital.
We welcome school groups from Key Stage 2 up to A-Level and our resources are closely linked to the national curriculum. We can provide activity sheets and later in 2018 we will be launching an object-handling collection accessible to schools.
Please note that due to space limitations groups of more than 30 students may have to stagger their visit. If you are organising a visit to the museum please contact us in advance to discuss your requirements on 020 7377 7608 or email us.
School groups may also wish to consider a visit to the Centre of the Cell, an interactive science education centre a few streets from the museum, sited in a working bio-medical research laboratory at Queen Mary, University of London.
Volunteer at the museum
Our friendly and supportive team of volunteers make sure the museum runs smoothly. They greet visitors, sell publications and answer or pass on enquiries. Some get involved in our projects if appropriate.
If you’d like to join our team you’d be helping us preserve the heritage of our historic hospitals while gaining new skills and experiences and meeting new people. Visit our volunteering pages to find out more and apply.
Publications for sale
The museum has a small shop selling a range of books, prints and postcards - read our full list of publications available for sale.To order any of these items, please email us or call 020 7377 7608.
The Royal London Hospital Archives
The archives cared for by Barts Health are amongst the largest and most important hospital collections in the UK, with nearly 2km of shelving!
The archives of The London Hospital (now The Royal London Hospital) date back to 1740, although patient records are only complete from 1883. The archives also hold records of numerous other hospitals, charities, training institutions and individuals and most of these are available for research, though access to some later records may be restricted under the Data Protection Act.
We are continually adding new material to our online catalogue, and are very grateful to the Wellcome Trust for its support of two recent cataloguing projects which focused on archive records relating to infectious disease. Read more about our recent projects The Fight Against Tuberculosis and STIs in East London in the Twentieth Century on the project blogs.
Searching the archives
To find out more about our archives, view the online catalogue for the collections of The Royal London Hospital Archives and Museum. We can help and advise researchers, so please contact us with your enquiry.
Visiting the archives
The archives are open to researchers by appointment only, Monday to Thursday, 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm. We are closed between Christmas and New Year, Easter and public holidays.
Please email us or telephone 020 7480 4823 to make an appointment. Access is not possible without an appointment.
What we hold
The archives of The Royal London Hospital, former District Hospitals and Special Health Authority Hospitals, and NHS hospital management committees, health districts, authorities and Trusts are held by virtue of the appointment of the Archives as a Place of Deposit for public records under Section 4(1) of the Public Records Act 1958.
As well as the archives of the Royal London Hospital, we hold records of the following hospitals:
- Albert Dock Hospital
- Bethnal Green Hospital
- East End Maternity Hospital
- East London Hospital for Children
- Forest Gate Hospital
- Harefield Hospital
- London Chest Hospital
- London Jewish Hospital
- Mildmay Mission Hospital
- Mile End Hospital
- Newham General Hospital
- National Heart Hospital
- Plaistow Maternity Hospital
- Poplar Hospital for Accidents
- Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children
- Queen Mary’s Hospital for the East End
- Queen Mary's Maternity Home
- Royal Brompton Hospital
- St Andrew's Hospital
- St Clement's Hospital
- Whipps Cross Hospital
We also hold:
- The archives of City and East London Area Health Authority (Teaching); Newham District Health Authority; Tower Hamlets District Health Authority; Bow Group Hospital Management Committee; Stepney Group Hospital Management Committee
- The archives of The Royal London Hospital and its Associated Community Services NHS Trust
- The archives of the Special Trustees of The Royal London Hospital
- Works of art and historical materials relating to the above bodies
- The archives, works of art and historical materials of the London Hospital Medical College, and of Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, held on deposit
- The archives, works of art and historical materials of clubs and societies associated with the London Hospital and Medical College.
- The archives, works of art and historical materials of Princess Alexandra & Newham College of Nursing and Midwifery and associated bodies.
- The archives of The Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust
- Personal papers and historical materials of private individuals and external organisations, including Sydney Holland, 2nd Viscount Knutsford; Eva Luckes; Edith Cavell; Thomas Horrocks Openshaw; Hubert Maitland Turnbull; Dorothy Russell; Francis Camps, Donald Hunter, Douglas Northfield and Hamilton Bailey.