Keats in London - Part Two

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Keats in London - Part Two

Postby toots » Mon Aug 16, 2010 10:11 pm

Here are pictures from the Herb Garret and Old Operating Theatre Museum at Guy's Hospital. It was built in 1822 after Keats' death so was not the one he knew, but a similar room. It was in use until 1865 and predates antiseptics although anaesthesia in experimental form was used from the 1840s onwards. The theatre was used for operations on female patients from the surgical ward in a building next door which now houses a post office.

Note: If you wish to visit this museum, access is via a very steep set of narrow spiral stairs which are wholly unsuited to anyone with mobility problems.

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The room is quite small and felt almost claustrophobic. The furniture is wooden and would have been hard to keep clean let alone sterile. The coats hanging in the corner near the top are the frock coats worn by the acting surgeons. They were never washed, it seems, and would have been 'stinking with dried blood and pus' according to the museum's label. A dirty coat was almost a badge of honour.

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The box of sawdust was used to catch the blood dripping off the table. When it became a 'bloody porridge' and unable to absorb more liquid, a cry would go up for 'more sawdust!'. It was just like a butcher's shop.

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The amputation knives speak for themselves. There were quite a number of medical instruments on display including a 'cervical dilator' the shape and size of a large kitchen whisk.

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Here is a board devoted to Keats with a sample timetable of lectures he would have attended and an extract from a letter in which Keats describes his daily routine as a medical student which was not all that different from a pre-clinical student's schedule of today with lectures in the morning, practical work and private study in the afternoon and evening and a fair bit of socialising as well.
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Re: Keats in London - Part Two

Postby Raphael » Mon Aug 16, 2010 10:50 pm

Once again- many thanks for the photos toots!

Here are pictures from the Herb Garret and Old Operating Theatre Museum at Guy's Hospital. It was built in 1822 after Keats' death so was not the one he knew, but a similar room. It was in use until 1865 and predates antiseptics although anaesthesia in experimental form was used from the 1840s onwards. The theatre was used for operations on female patients from the surgical ward in a building next door which now houses a post office.



What has happened to the one from John's time, do you know? This one from 1822, I imagine would be (in what it has in it) almost the same. I'm very interested in medical history- did you know that mesmerism was used as an anaesthetic at one point? The first chemical anesthetic, I believe was chloroform, then after that ether. Of course, in China they had acupuncture and in the ancient times there were narcotic herbs but dangerous! like henbane. I read that at first in the Victorian era they were suspicious of pain relief during surgery, and thought that pain wasn't a bad thing for the patient... :shock:



Image


The coats hanging in the corner near the top are the frock coats worn by the acting surgeons. They were never washed, it seems, and would have been 'stinking with dried blood and pus' according to the museum's label. A dirty coat was almost a badge of honour.



Yuck!!! I don't know how they could have stood the smell and been proud of it. No wonder our poet wanted to leave the profession.


Image


The box of sawdust was used to catch the blood dripping off the table. When it became a 'bloody porridge' and unable to absorb more liquid, a cry would go up for 'more sawdust!'. It was just like a butcher's shop.



Many a medical student must have threw up or fainted..not to mention the patients. I wonder how the sensitive John Keats could have stood watching that sawing of limbs going on...it must have affected him.Those knives look scary.


Image


There were quite a number of medical instruments on display including a 'cervical dilator' the shape and size of a large kitchen whisk.



Ewwwwwww...

Image


Here is a board devoted to Keats with a sample timetable of lectures he would have attended and an extract from a letter in which Keats describes his daily routine as a medical student which was not all that different from a pre-clinical student's schedule of today with lectures in the morning, practical work and private study in the afternoon and evening and a fair bit of socialising as well.



Is that the actual letter he wrote? Who was it to?

Really interesting thread and photos toots! Whilst I am a big fan of herbal medicine ( herbal medicine is curing the eczema folks...something the doctors could not do for me....) I'm glad for anaesthetics...I had one earlier this year and actually found it rather pleasant...you get oxygen now as the needle of anaesthetic is going in, so you don't wake up all groggy . And you go unconsious so quick these days without a heavy feeling first.
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re: Keats in London - Part Two

Postby toots » Wed Aug 18, 2010 8:55 pm

Hi there

I'm not sure what happened to the old theatre of Keats' day. It was probably demolished or turned to some other use.

The letter on the wall is not the original or even a facsimile, just a printed copy. It may have been to his sister Fanny or brother George. Having visited the operating theatre, I can well understand why Keats decided the profession was not him.

I also suspect he may have found the hierachical nature of the medical profession a bit stifling. If you look at what happened to Ignaz Semmelweis in Hungary in the mid-nineteenth century, I don't think the professor-surgeons took too kindly to independent thought in younger students. Semmelweis was the doctor who suggested that washing your hands after performing an autopsy and before delivering a baby might help lower mortality rates in maternity wards. This was before people knew about bacterial infection. He was treated like a cross between a heretic and a madman and eventually died insane even though science proved him right in the end.

Here is a link to a news story about TB treatment which you may find interesting. The battle against tuberculosis goes on.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-11012653
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Re: Keats in London - Part Two

Postby Raphael » Wed Aug 18, 2010 10:11 pm

Hello toots!

I'm not sure what happened to the old theatre of Keats' day. It was probably demolished or turned to some other use.


Do you know what part of Guy's it was in? I am supposing that most of the old part of Guy's has been demolished anyway.


The letter on the wall is not the original or even a facsimile, just a printed copy. It may have been to his sister Fanny or brother George. Having visited the operating theatre, I can well understand why Keats decided the profession was not him.



I wonder where the orginal is. Yes, that operating theatre is scary! Being a poet suited him much more...


I also suspect he may have found the hierachical nature of the medical profession a bit stifling. If you look at what happened to Ignaz Semmelweis in Hungary in the mid-nineteenth century, I don't think the professor-surgeons took too kindly to independent thought in younger students. Semmelweis was the doctor who suggested that washing your hands after performing an autopsy and before delivering a baby might help lower mortality rates in maternity wards. This was before people knew about bacterial infection. He was treated like a cross between a heretic and a madman and eventually died insane even though science proved him right in the end.



I just don't get how they thought dirty hands and dirty equipment wasn't bad, even without the knowledge of germs!


Here is a link to a news story about TB treatment which you may find interesting. The battle against tuberculosis goes on.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-11012653


Thanks for the link- interesting that they said only 1 in 10 people who have the bacteria go on to get full blown TB. I thought it was inevitable once it was in there.
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re: Keats in London - Part Two

Postby toots » Wed Aug 18, 2010 11:05 pm

I'm not sure what happened to the old theatre of Keats' day. It was probably demolished or turned to some other use.


Do you know what part of Guy's it was in? I am supposing that most of the old part of Guy's has been demolished anyway.


I think that the old buildings are now used mainly for administration purposes. There is a new teaching block behind the main building. Guy's is still a teaching hospital and is part of King's College, London which is itself part of the University of London. Most of the stay-in patients today are now treated in a modern tower block extension.

It's still not a particularly pleasant area of London, but is gradually improving. They are building a massive new office block called 'The Shard' close by and this will look like a giant shard of glass. I shall reserve judgement until I see the finished building but I fear it will be another variation on the theme of the 'take a box and cover it in glass' style of modern architecture. The Borough Market nearby is interesting with a good selection of foods from all over the place, but it is expensive and aimed more at well-off city workers rather than locals.
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Re: Keats in London - Part Two

Postby Raphael » Wed Aug 18, 2010 11:50 pm

I bet the area looks really different to how it looked in John Keats's time!
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re: Keats in London - Part Two

Postby Maureen » Fri Aug 27, 2010 6:32 pm

Lovely photos Toots. I visited this part of London recently, including the operating theatre, and I too found it fascinating. And yes, it's fairly clear to me why John decided poetry was more his thing than having to operate on some poor person and inflict the suffering that went along with the procedure in those days.

I'm pretty sure that the hospital as it existed in John's day has effectively disappeared, either through being torn down and rebuilt or completely renovated. I think the operating theatre survived mainly because it was situated in a roof space and was forgotten about for years, and only rediscovered at a time when the value of its preservation was recognised, thankfully.

Did you visit John's statue in the grounds of Guys just up the road? And his lodgings were sited just across the road from the operating theatre, though the house has been rebuilt - it's difficult to imagine the chandlers shop he lodged above now.
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