Dianthus Medical Blog Archive

History of medicine walking tour

In the 12 years or so that I have been a member of EMWA, I have travelled all over Europe attending their conferences. At most conferences, the social programme includes a walking tour of the city. It's always a popular event, and is a great way to see something of the conference's host city (sometimes the only time you get to see any of the city at all).

So given that walking tours are usually so much fun, it's astonishing that after living in London for about 16 years I went on my first walking tour here only yesterday evening. I guess it's always a danger of living somewhere that you never get round to doing the things that tourists do, even if they are fascinating.

Yesterday, I went on the first of a series of scientific-themed walking tours organised by the Royal Society. It was fascinating. Led by our excellent guide Barabara from Tales of Two Cities, we started at St Bartholemew's Hospital (which I learned was the oldest hospital in Britain), and wandered around the surrounding area, learning many interesting facts about the history of medicine as we went. The most surprising bit for me was learning about how anatomy classes for medical students in times gone by were heavily dependent on a thriving trade in grave-robbing.

It was also rather a treat to see some hidden gems of the City of London, and find some beautifully tranquil green spaces in places where you really wouldn't expect to find them. The sort of thing you never do if you live in a city, but to which an expert guide can really open your eyes.

I have decided that I really should spend more time getting to know the city in which I've lived for the last 16 years. Luckily, the Royal Society's series of walks has only just started, so I should be able to go to one or two more of them.

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