In 1957, an old operating theater was discovered at the original site of St. Thomas' Hospital in Southwark, London. Completely boarded up, the theater rested undisturbed since the hospital changed locations in 1862.
Patients at St. Thomas' were generally poor, though the hospital expected them to pay for what they could. Rich patients generally received house calls for treatments instead of being hospitalized.
Unlike today, surgeons did not have access to numbing agents like anaesthetics, which made surgeries much quicker by necessity. This also meant that more invasive surgeries were simply not an option.
Students would often watch surgeries being performed. Though patients did not particularly enjoy this, many put up with it in exchange for receiving high-quality medical care they normally couldn't afford.
In 1859, Florence Nightingale opened her nursing school on the same site as St. Thomas' Hospital. It was on her recommendation that the hospital moved elsewhere. Nightingale is considered the founder of modern nursing and brought a number of important reforms to the practice.