St. Thomas' Church

St. Thomas’s Church is practically the only remaining building of the original site of St. Thomas' Hospital in the borough of Southwark, London (9A St Thomas Street).

"St. Thomas was said to be 'ancient' in 1215 AD. It was run by a mixed order of Augustinian monks and nuns, dedicated to St. Thomas Becket. It provided shelter and treatment for poor, sick and homeless and sheltered housing for the aged. (…) Over the centuries the hospital expanded, with the accounts of 1730 listing almost 5,000 patients being treated a year. At the end of the 17th century, the Hospital and its Church were largely rebuilt in red brick"1.

"In 1859 Florence Nightingale became involved with St Thomas Hospital, establishing her famous nursing school on this site. Following her advice, the Hospital Governors decided to sell its land to the Charing Cross Railway Company for redevelopment of London Bridge station. In 1862, the Hospital moved to its present site in Lambeth"2 and most of the old buildings were destroyed.

St. Thomas’s Church became redundant in its use as a church in 1899 and the parish merged with St. Saviour's, which became Southwark Cathedral in 1905. It was then used as the Chapter House for the cathedral, and there after used as office space by the Chapter Group insurance company.

An 19th century Operating Theatre in the church's garret "lay undiscovered for nearly 100 years, until researcher Raymond Russell uncovered a reference to its church attic location in the hospital archives. Penetrating through the cobwebs, Russel rediscovered the Operating Theatre in 1956"3

Recently, St. Thomas’s Church has been restored to its original prestige to preserve its historical features by using it as a Museum of the old hospital's Operating Theatre and Herb Garret.

  • Photos by Sarah Rizeq ti.supmacla|qezir.haras#| (January 2010) and Luca Borghi ti.supmacinu|ihgrob.l#| (July 2011)

Related items:


  • N.Black, P.Ackroyd (foreword), Walking London's Medical History, Royal Society of Medicine Press Ltd., London 2006, p 125-126
  • E.M.McInnes, St Thomas' Hospital, Second enlarged edition, Special Trustees for St Thomas' Hospital, London 1990, pp. 288

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