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

47 minutes ago
33 Portland Place looks peaceful on the outside, but if these walls could talk... [Photo from Google StreetView]

A swanky 24-bedroom house in the West End that was Britian’s answer to the Playboy mansion is up for sale – because its fraudster owner needs the cash for legal fees.

Read more
07:25
The incident happened between Ann Street and Villas Road on the Glyndon Estate in Plumstead (Pic: Google Street View)

A 19-year-old woman was raped as she made her way home through the Glyndon Estate in Plumstead.

Read more
06:32
A general view of housing near Clapham as London rents now double those in the rest of the UK (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Rents in London are twice as high as those across the rest of the UK for the first time ever, new research has revealed.

Read more

TOP Stories

47 minutes ago
33 Portland Place looks peaceful on the outside, but if these walls could talk... [Photo from Google StreetView]

A swanky 24-bedroom house in the West End that was Britian’s answer to the Playboy mansion is up for sale – because its fraudster owner needs the cash for legal fees.

07:25
The incident happened between Ann Street and Villas Road on the Glyndon Estate in Plumstead (Pic: Google Street View)

A 19-year-old woman was raped as she made her way home through the Glyndon Estate in Plumstead.

06:32
A general view of housing near Clapham as London rents now double those in the rest of the UK (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Rents in London are twice as high as those across the rest of the UK for the first time ever, new research has revealed.

Promotions

Renault Zoe

The Renault ZOE follows on from the introduction of the electric Fluence ZE and Twizy, but unlike the former, the Zoe was designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle.

Always wanted to create your own beer? Perfect Pint are giving you the chance.

When no simple way to find Real Ale was at hand, 4 Ale enthusiasts got together to allow anyone with a smart phone to find Real Ale no matter where they happened to be, this was the birth of the Perfect Pint app.

The Week subscription offer

London24 have partnered up with The Week magazine to offer you a complimentary issue – delivered free to your door.

London Bloggers

Thursday, July 24, 2014
London comedians are preparing for Edinburgh (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

During these sultry July afternoons and endless balmy evenings the nervous musings of young comedians in London drift to dreams of triumph on the Edinburgh stage.

Thursday, July 24, 2014
Punchdrunk's The Drowned Man poduction came to an end on Sunday, July 6

If you’ve been wandering around bereft of purpose, a wet-eyed stare fixed on your blank face, then no doubt you too are as gutted as I am that The Drowned Man has finally come to an end.

Thursday, July 24, 2014
(Photo by Joern Pollex/Getty Images)

We’ve been called P.I.G.S.

Quizzes

How much do you really know about QPR legends like Les Ferdinand? Picture: Neal Simpson/EMPICS Sport

Test your knowledge of QPR’s greatest players with our fantastic legends quiz.

Read more
How much do you know about films in London? (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Do you know your Lock Stock from your Long Good Friday, Sliding Doors from Shakespeare in Love?

Read more
How much about this great city do you really know? Take our true Londoner quiz and find out (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Do you know your apples from your pears? Take our Cockney quiz and see how much of a Londoner you really are.

Read more