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Lecture in Lichfield examines work of the surgeons of yesteryear

John Hunter

John Hunter

The work of 18th Century surgeons will be in the spotlight at a lecture in Lichfield.

Simon Chaplin MA, Director of Museums and Special Collections at The Royal College of Surgeons of England, will give the lecture Dissection and Display in the 18 Century at the Lichfield Garrick Studio Theatre at 8pm on May 14.

In the late 18th century, London was the most important centre for anatomical training in Europe. In contrast to the university cities of Edinburgh, Paris and Leiden, anatomy lectures and dissection classes were taught privately, usually by surgeons working from their own homes.

With no legal supply of bodies they were dependent on the grave-robbers or ‘resurrection-men’ to supply cadavers for their courses – a trade that hardly endeared them to the public at large. Many also invested significant sums in creating museums of anatomical specimens, the largest of which contained many thousands of objects and were housed in purpose-built structures.

Through the stories of anatomists William and John Hunter, John Sheldon, Joshua Brookes and others, Simon will lift the veil on London’s anatomy museums and ask whether, in the age of Alder Hey and Body Worlds, there are lessons to be learned for today’s anatomists.

Entry is £4 for visitors and free for students and members of the Lichfield Science & Engineering Society, Burton-upon-Trent and District Engineering Society and Stoke-on-Trent Association of Engineers.

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