Over the centuries, disease and mankind’s efforts to be rid of it have left a tangible mark on the landscape – what one might call the archaeology of medicine.
These historical artefacts have been largely neglected and with the rapid changes in medical care which characterise contemporary society, old established institutions are being closed and their buildings abandoned. Derelict hospital buildings are now a familiar part of the British urban landscape. Some are rapidly reduced to rubble whilst others suffer a less ignominious fate by undergoing an architectural metamorphosis into supermarkets, hotels and residential developments.
General practitioners increasingly work within purpose built premises. The forerunners of such buildings are the 19th century dispensaries, some of which survive and have been adapted to other purposes. There are now very few examples of old established doctors’ surgeries which are still providing a service in their original setting. A few early surgeries have been rebuilt in museum or heritage settings.
The Medical Heritage of Great Britain website is produced by the Bath & Wessex Medical History Group, a non-profit making medical history society and is devoted to raising awareness of the history and archaeology of medicine.
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