- Visit Royal London Hospital Museum to learn about the fascinating history of medicine and healthcare in East London, along with some artefacts, objects and documentaries.
- Check out the permanent collections, relating to people such as Joseph Merrick, the Elephant man, Jack the Ripper and more.
- Don't miss out on the events and exhibitions held here regularly, along with more great East London attractions nearby.
For your tours of London museums, you might not expect the Royal London Hospital Museum to be on your list, but it definitely should be, situated within a former church crypt, from the late 1800s, the style is notable in itself, although it has been restored, so Arthur Cawston's design can be admired once again.
Although a museum, the building is actually also the actual hospital site and home to the Library of the School of Medicine and Dentistry at Whitechapel. For visitors hoping to see the Grade II listed church and crypt remains, it's best to try on a weekday and asking at the Library desk. The Royal London Hospital Museum has a rich history, having served East London's community since the mid 18th century, so it has many stories to tell, regarding how modern medicine transformed, developed and more, along with the famous historical figures that have been to the hospital itself.
This contemporary museum will tell you and your little ones all the fascinating stories that have taken place here, from different parts about the actual hospital history, to the different advances in science and medicine that have taken place at this hospital, to nursing history, along with history about Whitechapel and politics. What's great is there are many different ways the hospital does this, through exhibitions, talks, events and medical documentaries on site that you can sit and have a look at.
There are a number of great exhibitions on site for your little ones to enjoy, some not for the faint hearted, they'll be sure to pique the interest, though. Take a look at the Joseph Merrick Model exhibition, Merrick was actually known as the 'Elephant Man', which is a very notable exhibition collection in the hospital as they some of Merrick's belongings as he was treated at the hospital, and passed away there during the late 19th century. Plus, for those looking to test their ghoulish sensibilities, be sure to check out the Jack the Ripper showcase, which features forensic evidence and material relating to the Whitechapel murderer himself, along with Thomas Horrocks Openshaw who was a surgeon at the hospital, investigating the matter at the time. Some material include the 'From Hell' letter by Openshaw the royal hospital surgeon. Along with these more notable exhibitions and collections, there are permanent exhibitions on the archives, artefacts and collections that this hospital houses, regarding East end medical history. Your little ones will be delighted to find works of art, along with an array of fascinating and at times quite scary medical equipment, plus written material and uniforms. These all help to immerse you in the history of this royal London hospital and transport you back in time.
If you're a bit squeamish, do you dare take a gander at the medical equipment? There's a massive 19th century tooth key on display which was used, to knock out people's teeth back in the day, ouch! Plus, you can find the knife and saw used to amputate people's limbs. By the way, this was used without anaesthetic, so you can imagine how painful that would have been.
Don't miss out on events and exhibitions that take place at the museum, from talks, shows and festive activities, with many educational trips, along with fun things for the little ones to do, so keep your eyes peeled. For more great London days out with a historical twist, check out Museum of London Docklands to learn about the fascinating history of the Thames and its role in trading, slavery and transportation.
Nearby, there are plenty of fun things to do in and near Whitechapel to make for some great days out either before or after your trip to the London Hospital, or on a different day. If your little ones are feeling entertained and inspired by Jack the Ripper, then there is the Jack the Ripper Museum for you to try out, that'll be sure to tickle their fancy. For the culture vultures of the family, you're just a stone's throw away from Whitechapel Gallery, Plus, nearby is Brick Lane, and Brick Lane food hall, along with Spitalfields Market, and Spitalfields Farm, so the fun won't stop at the London Hospital. If you're in a leisurely mood, you can do the best vintage shopping in Whitechapel, so head to the Old Truman Brewery, a converted space where all the hip trend setters go.
For more great museum days out in London, check out the V&A Museum of Childhood, which is always a hit with the little ones, for their great collection of toys, memorabilia, along with art, design and performance that is regularly on at the museum.
What to know before you go
- Royal London Hospital Museum opening times are Fridays 10am to 4pm.
- When you're feeling peckish, there is a cafe on site, so you can grab a snack to eat and recharge. Alternatively, there are plenty of great places to eat nearby, like at Spitalfields Market, Brick Lane Market, among great restaurants, independent cafes and more.
- There are toilets on site, and accessible toilets but no baby changing facilities.
- There is wheelchair access across the site, and it is navigable for those using pushchair.
- Royal London Hospital Museum is located at St. Philip’s Church on Newark Street.
- If travelling via public transport, Whitechapel (Overground, District, Hammersmith and City lines), and Aldgate East station (District, Hammersmith and City line) are the closest to the site.
- If travelling via car, from central London, go via the A3211.
- Look here for NCP parking nearby.