With Discover Medical London you can encounter the people and places that have made this city a capital of contagion and a home for healing from the past to the present day.
From blue-blooded Royalty to body snatchers, anatomists to anaesthetists, physicians, pharmacists and Fellows to the founding fathers of the National Health Service.
All are to be found through history and along the capital’s thoroughfares….
Join our team of qualified professional guides as they lead you through the streets and stories that have made London a city of sickness and a city of cures for over a thousand years.
Throughout the year we offer a range of private walks and tours available any time by prior arrangement. Our private events include visits to some of London’s most prominent medical museums and collections. For more information and our choice of tours click here
Our weekly public walks run every Thursday between May and October each year, and are presented with the museum of the world-renowned Royal College of Physicians, commencing with an exclusive highlights tour* of the College’s iconic building designed by Sir Denys Lasdun located on Regent’s Park.
For an example of the range of tours see the schedule for our programme of public walks and tours for 2016, which can be found on the Our Calendar page. Simply click on the calendar to the right to be taken immediately there.
Our programme of public walks for 2017 will be announced in March.
For more information on the content of our individual walks and tours scroll down, or visit the homepage for each event using the menu above or Our Walks and Tours page.
To arrange a private group tour or find out about our bespoke services contact us any time by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
For the latest news on all our events subscribe to our blog or follow us on twitter using the tools on this page.
We hope to welcome you on one of our voyages of medical discovery very soon!
Who needs doctors anyway?
Find out how the biggest life savers in the story of human health come from far and wide, not just the world of physicians.
Today, medical practitioners and professionals are held – quite properly – in extremely high esteem. But is the common view that the huge advances in our well being of the last 250 years come down to the role of doctors entirely true?
Take this tour to learn how Joseph Bazalgette (shown left) may have saved the lives of more Londoners than almost any other Victorian. Discover how a study into bus conductors unearthed the connection between exercise and coronary heart disease and how house building helped rid Britain of dreaded typhus.
Medicine at the Movies
Lights! Scalpel! Action! Film and the invented lives of physicians and clinicians.
Since its earliest days the cinema has been obsessed with playing at ‘doctors and nurses’. Sometimes it has taken its stories from fact, sometimes it has created fictions. The results have been both tragic and comic, and all too often ‘romantic’.
Starting at one of the world’s oldest medical institutions and cutting through perhaps its most famous clinical district, Harley Street, we go on location to find the characters from Doctors Watson and Cagliari to ‘The Elephant Man’ and stories from the ‘The Madness of King George’ to ‘The King’s Speech’ that have made physicians and the flicks inseparable for over a century.
Along the way we ask why the movies are more often interested in depicting scandal and sexual intrigue than surgery and serious medical practice…
John Dee & The Curious History of Understanding
Mathematician, magician, astronomer, astrologer, explorer, occultist, imperialist, alchemist and spy, John Dee continues to fascinate centuries after he first set foot in the court of Elizabeth I.
He was the man for whom the term ‘polymath’ seems coined, and yet he was widely known as ‘Dr Dee’ he was never a member of the Royal College of Physicians. So does the College come to have the largest collection of his books in existence today? Why did ‘The Virgin Queen’ send him across Europe in search of medical secrets and on what basis did he offer medical assistance to friends, family and acquaintances?
To answer all these questions and uncover the interconnected web of medicine, science, faith, magic, mysticism and belief from Tudor times to today join this tour.
Fire! Plague! Revolution!
London 1666: capital of calamities
Explore the history of London’s most terrible decade through the eyes of a doctor!
In a nation where the reverberations of a terrible civil war could still be felt, it was a dark year for its greatest city. Cut across lines of class and religion, still feeling the after effects of The Great Plague, The Great Fire came and seemed unstoppable, destroying everything before it in flames for days on end.
Though the fire claimed the Royal College of Physicians’ home in the shadow of the fallen St Paul’s, the remains of its archives and the records of its rebuilding tell a story of how these apparently disparate events: civil war, disease and fire are, in fact, closely related.
Learn how the echoes of these catastrophes and the spirit of reconstruction have characterised London, medicine and the College throughout history as we venture out into the streets of the ‘capital of calamities’.
For tour dates click here to visit the Our Calendar page. For tour dates click here to visit the Our Calendar page. To arrange a private group tour any time contact us by email at email@example.com
A special walk to mark the 350th anniversary of The Great Plague.
Career down the lanes and alleyways of the capital city of contagion with us. Discover plague pits and mass graves, unearth the evidence of epidemics past and present.
Then pause to ask the questions: What is a plague? Who decides what makes a disease a disaster? Explore how afflictions from idleness to AIDS, crime to cholera, alcoholism to ignorance, tuberculosis to too many people have struggled under the weight of the deathly word ‘plague’ at some point in time.
A social and medical history of disease and how it has disfigured this great city.
For more information click here to visit the “London’s Plagues” event page. For tour dates click here to visit the Our Calendar page. To arrange a private group tour any time contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Women & Medicine
Follow in the footsteps of the pioneers at the forefront of healthcare improvements and female emancipation.
From a medical institution that took over 470 years to elect a woman president to a hospital founded by the first female to officially qualify as a doctor in the UK, we travel through Fitrovia and Bloomsbury to seek out the trailblazers who have cleared the way for today’s medical women.
Along the way we learn how female practitioners have played their role in raising standards of care for not just women but the population as a whole.
We conclude with a visit to The Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Gallery at the Unison Centre.
For more information click here to visit the Women and Medicine event page. For tour dates click here to visit the Our Calendar page. To arrange a private group tour any time contact us by email at email@example.com
“Sex and The City”
Medicine and sexuality, sexology and the treatment of sexually transmitted disease.
Join fellow streetwalkers as we stroll through the notorious district once known as “North Soho”. Uncover the sometimes unsavoury story of the relationship between human sexuality and the medical professions.
Meet the innovators who would liberate men and women from centuries of intolerance and dangerous practices.
Our walk on the wild side of of healthcare ends with an introduction to the extensive materials focussed on psychology and sexology at the Wellcome Collection.
For more information click here to visit the “Sex and The City” event page. For tour dates click here to visit the Our Calendar page. To arrange a private group tour any time contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Medicine at War
A walk to mark the centenary of The First World War examining the ever-changing role of medics at the front line.
Travel in time through ‘the seven ages of military medicine’ from the mediaeval battlefield to the trenches of The Western Front and explore how those with a vocation to heal have carried out their work in the midst of carnage.
The tour concludes in Cavendish Square home to the Royal College of Nursing.
Fit to Rule?
Meander around fashionable Marylebone’s ‘Medical Mile’ and finish up by taking the air in ever so Royal Regent’s Park.
See the places where the politically powerful and mighty monarchs, their mistresses and relatives sought treatment and administered care and find out whether they were well enough to be in charge of the country at all!
Homes for Healing
A tour of healthy open spaces and London’s amazing architectural curing places.
From fashionable town houses to squalid workhouses, lost priories to Princes’ palaces, bloodied barber shops and seamen’s missions.
The bewildering array of structures sequestered by surgeons and physicians is sure to fascinate anyone with an interest in the history of medicine, architecture or simply a love of beautiful buildings.
Harley Street: Healers and Hoaxers
Stroll along and around one of the best known medical streets in the world!
See where some of the most famous practitioners in the history of medicine plied their trade. View the apparently respectable facades behind which quacks administered their queasy cures.
One for the Road!
Take a trip through the heart of London to explore the Capital’s drinking culture and the long and complex relationship between healing and imbibing.
Find out about the high jinx, japes and scrapes of making merry and the dark underside and serious consequences of a life ‘on the sauce’. From a special silver bowl used to cool wine glasses and elect Presidents of the Royal College of Physicians to an amazing bath once filled with champagne for royalty, learn how power and alcohol have also gone hand in hand through time.
The Making of Thoroughly Modern Medicine
Cut across the city’s medical quarter learning all the way how a murky world of mercury cures and caffeine enemas, leeches and blood letting galore was transformed into one of the most respected professions at the cutting edge of science.
Our most popular walk concluding at the acclaimed exhibitions and library of The Wellcome Collection, with an optional tour available for advance bookings**.
All our standard walks include a highlights tour of the interior of the Grade I listed Royal College of Physicians it’s museum and collections and last around 2½ hours.
Walks cost £10 per person.
For details of special events and their costs please see below and the relevant homepage.
* On occasion access to the Royal College of Physicians may be limited due to opening times or events, further details are available at the time of booking.
** An introductory tour of The Wellcome Collection is included at no extra charge to groups of 10 or more booking their places in advance for “The Making of Thoroughly Modern Medicine”. Due to due to demand for temporary exhibitions tours may not always be possible, please contact us in advance to confirm availability.
To enquire about any of these walks, please contact us via email: email@example.com
A capital’s contagious geography
Sickness & the streets of disease from the Great Plague to the present day.
Marking 350 years since the end of the Great Plague of London in 1666, we present a special study tour investigating the A-Z of infectious diseases and medical conditions from hepatitis ‘A’ to the Zits, spots, sores and scabs that have marked out victims of the various poxes to afflict the city and its people from the seventeenth to the twenty first centuries.
Starting with a visit to The National Gallery to reveal some of the pestilent stories behind the pretty faces on display we spread like a virus through the most fashionable and notorious addresses in town to reveal the history of epidemic and infection and the scars they have left on the city.
We conclude at the Royal College of Physicians with an exclusive guided viewing of plague artefacts and cures from times past.
& The Magic of Medicine
A special study tour celebrating the outstanding collection of books once owned by Renaissance polymath John Dee now held in the library at the Royal College of Physicians.
Discover the remarkable relationship between religion and medicine, magic and cure from before the time of John Dee, the man described as ‘The Queen’s Conjuror’ at the court of Elizabeth I, right up to the present day.
Begin in the ancient world at the British Museum and conclude with a guided visit to Dee’s ‘lost library’ taking in a fascinating history of healing and believing the seen and unseen along the way.
This tour is only available to groups by special arrangement with the library of the Royal College of Physicians, for more details contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Flight from the Flames”
Recovering London from The Great Fire
A special study tour marking the 350th anniversary of The Great Fire.
Organised in conjunction with the exhibition ‘To fetch out the fire: reviving London, 1666’, trace the footsteps of those fleeing the flames to uncover the destruction wrought by the disaster, and learn how people saved and repaired themselves and as much of the city’s heritage as they could.
The event commences footsteps away from the very place the devastation began and concludes with an exclusive guided visit to the exhibition, on the fringes of Regent’s Park, which holds its own unexpected Great Fire secret…
To arrange a private group tour any time contact us by email at email@example.com
This event was originally conceived and formed part of the official commemoration of the anniversary of the Great Fire of London.
Modernism Optimism Medicine Architecture
A study tour devised to celebrate visionary architect Sir Denys Lasdun, the Royal College of Physicians iconic grade 1 listed modernist home and medicine’s contemporary architectural heritage.
Travel from the Southbank to The Regent’s Park and discover how architectural experimentation, medical progress and social reform went hand in hand throughout the 20th century.
Visit St Thomas’ Hospital, The Royal Festival Hall and Lasdun’s own iconic National Theatre to see why improved homes, places of healing and public temples of culture came to be seen as vital to delivering national health and well-being.
Learn when, in a spirit of post war optimism, modernism became the architectural style of choice to render the hopes ambitions of a nation literally concrete realities.
Cut across the city’s academic quarter from Sir Denys’ University of London campus to view where medicine has embraced the new and bold in building technology, interior design and sometimes architectural style.
The event concludes with refreshments and a private guided interior tour of the Royal College of Physicians headquarters at Regent’s Park: a unique chance to explore one of only a tiny number of post-war buildings to receive Grade 1 listed status from English heritage.
“Fifty years on, the complex, confident lines of Denys
Lasdun’s Royal College of Physicians remain an unqualified success, now celebrated in a new exhibition, The Anatomy of a Building“
Rowan Moore, The Observer
Part architectural odyssey, part ode to the eternal optimism of the medical profession, this special study tour fascinates and stimulates those with an interest in modern architecture, medical and social history or simply a passion for our capital city.
For private bookings contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more details visit the Modernism Optimism Medicine Architecture homepage