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 From the Black Death and cholera in the rookeries to the barber surgeons and body snatchers of St. Barts this illuminating and entertaining day looks at the history of sickness and health from Roman times to the coming of the NHS. For 2018 & 2019 we offer our new itinerary with visits to a trio of remarkable collections: Barts Hospital Museum where we see Hogarth murals, Charterhouse Museum built on a mediaeval plague pit and the quirky Wellcome Collection.

Please the guide at 10.30am at Smithfield for time to buy morning refreshments. We will be on foot this morning with time to buy lunch locally unless you opt to add a morning coffee and lunch package. Without walking too far we are going to take you on an entertaining romp through 2000 years of the history of medicine and nursing.

London’s Charterhouse, an almshouse occupying a 14th-century Carthusian monastery, was built on a plague pit. More than 50,000 Londoners were buried here at a time when nothing could be done to save them and the priority was to pray for their souls. We go inside to see the founder’s chapel and the little museum. The skeleton of a young man from East Anglia who died of the Black Death lay undisturbed for 600 years until the Crossrail excavators arrived. During a fascinating morning we show how the idea of religious charity lay at the heart of the mediaeval hospital before care started to move out of the church and into the new world of science.

When St. Bartholomew’s Hospital joined the NHS in 1948 it had already been looking after London’s sick for nearly 900 years. When the court jester Rahere became delirious with malaria on a pilgrimage to Rome, St. Bartholomew appeared to him promising safe return to England if he agreed to set up a hospital for London’s poor. In London’s oldest parish church - the achingly beautiful St. Bartholomew the Great we see Rahere’s tomb and Exquisite Pain - a very bling gilded statue of St. Bartholomew by Damien Hirst that references the saint’s links to medicine.

Next door in the lovingly curated Barts Hospital Museum we discover a mix of quirky artefacts from nine centuries of medical history alongside grand murals painted by Barts Hospital governor William Hogarth.

We break in Smithfield for time to buy lunch or you can opt to add a pub lunch for the group.

Our afternoon is devoted to one of London’s quirkiest private collections. Henry Wellcome was a fascinating chap, as rich as Croesus, and as curious as the proverbial cat. Born to a travelling American preacher in a frontier log cabin, the teenage Henry’s first invention was invisible ink. He went on to invent the medicinal tablet establishing the pharmaceutical giant Burroughs Wellcome.

Lucky in business but unlucky in love Wellcome married Dr Barnardo’s feisty daughter whose adulterous lovers included Harry Selfridge and the writer Somerset Maugham. Like a giant Edwardian cabinet of curiosities the Medicine Man Gallery houses mind-boggling objects that Wellcome, a contemporary of Livingstone and Stanley, gathered from around the world.

There is a marvellous and eclectic bookshop plus a really beautiful café where you can buy tea before heading for home at 4.45pm.

Adults & Seniors: £25

Available Tuesday to Saturday all year

Prices valid 1st April 2018 to 31st March 2019

Add morning coffee & lunch £14

Jam Buster option midday to 6.00pm.

Been to the Wellcome Collection?

Don’t rule this tour out as there are other

afternoon options e.g. the quirky Hunterian

Museum - Please ask for details.

5 miles