Anatomical tables displaying 17th century human remains go on show

17:00 15 May 2012

Curator Emma Shepley with a wax anatomical model at the Curious Anatomys exhibition at The Royal College of Physicians. Picture: Polly Hancock

Curator Emma Shepley with a wax anatomical model at the Curious Anatomys exhibition at The Royal College of Physicians. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

A rare set of tables that display preserved human remains from the 17th century are on full public display for the first time in their history.

The six ‘anatomical tables’ feature human veins, nerves and arteries that have been varnished on to large wooden panels and are on show at the Royal College of Physicians in Regent’s Park.

The tables are one of two sets of their kind known in Europe and are thought to have been brought back from Padua in Italy by Sir John Finch, an ambassador to England in the 17th century.

The other set of tables are owned by the Royal College of Surgeons.

The six tables show the nervous system of an adult male and life-size arterial and venous systems of a male and a female.

There is also what is thought to be the system of an animal and a dissected placenta. The remains are thought to be those of executed criminals from the time.

It is unknown whether the tables were meant as teaching aides or whether they were simply a status symbol for wealthy English gentlemen.

Until they were given to the Royal College of Physicians in 1823, they were part of the estate of the Earl of Nottingham.

Now modern-day medics say they are a useful, if odd, educational resource.

Francis Wells, a consultant surgeon who presented a talk on the tables, said: “The skills required to complete this level of dissection are considerable. As historical objects they are equally important and enthralling.”

Little is known about how the tables were actually created.

Emma Shepley, curator of the Curious Anatomys exhibition, where the tables will be shown said: “We can’t be sure whether the systems shown on the tables were taken from the body and put onto the table or whether the body was placed on the table and parts were removed.”

The tables have been brought into the public arena after funding was secured for conservation work last year.

They will be on show until October 26.

Latest Stories from SNAP.PA

The Manchester City and England goalkeeper is not having a great day.

Read more

Whoever’s running Chelsea’s twitter account is having fun tonight.

Read more

You can look at cute pictures of hedgehogs and help out at the same time.

Read more

Promoted content

Gamucci is a global leader and premier brand of electronic cigarettes

Gamucci has an electronic cigarette tailored for every need. We have a range of both disposable and rechargeable electronic cigarettes suitable for all adult smokers. And for a limited time, some great discounts.

Money saving Christmas gifts to add to your shopping list!

It’s nearly time to go on the hunt for Christmas presents, stuck on what to get for your nearest and dearest? We’ve picked out a selection of great deals to get you started and to help you save some pennies!

PM speaks out after Lee Rigby report is made public calling one internet firm a ‘safe haven’.

Social network named in media reports as the platform used by extremists and criticised in government report.

The security services were not in a position to stop the attack on Lee Rigby, but an internet firm might have been able to help foil the plot.

The 21-year-old has found himself in a spot of trouble.

TOP Stories

The scorched remains of family business Archway Sheet Metals. Picture: London Fire Brigade (@LondonFire)/Twitter

Police this evening confirmed they are treating as “suspicious” the fire that gutted the only factory left preventing Tottenham Hotspur from starting work on its new stadium.

Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh pleaded guilty to the charges at Croydon Crown Court [Photograph by Philip Toscano/PA Wire]

Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh, also known as Robin, today pleaded guilty to a string of voyeurism, indecency and pornography offences.

11:51
The Railway Hotel in Hornchurch

A mum died after eating contaminated turkey in a pub Christmas dinner, which also made 33 diners violently ill, a court has found.

London Bloggers

Friday, November 14, 2014
Bird says back up your data

What happened after a friend of mine lost basically everything he’d created in the last 5 years:

Thursday, October 30, 2014
The Appilepsy team: Phil Efstathiou, Alex Telek , Clarence Ji, Miklos Molnar, Joran van Apeldoorn

In Tech City, things move fast. And sometimes erratically. Like phones in the pockets of people having epileptic seizures.

Friday, October 24, 2014
The 91-year-old gave the cyclist a wallop

After Baroness Sharples bragged about walloping a cyclist, London24’s cycling blogger AViewOfLondon has this to say...