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

Jennifer Aniston says her husband-to-be loves to scare her.

Read more

Vloggers aren’t just being used to sell beauty products anymore, they’re being used to sell universities.

Read more

Ashley Roberts says she’s happy for Declan Donnelly after he asked his girlfriend to marry him.

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!

Vloggers aren’t just being used to sell beauty products anymore, they’re being used to sell universities.

Ashley Roberts says she’s happy for Declan Donnelly after he asked his girlfriend to marry him.

The Foreign Office was unable to give any details on the conditions of those injured.

Australia’s Phil Hughes has died at the age of 25.

TOP Stories

Protester chanted against injustice  [Photograph byDaniel Leal-Olivas/PA]

Around 1,000 people took to the streets of London last night in solidarity with protests over the shooting of a young unarmed black man in the American city of Ferguson.

6 minutes ago
Baroness Joanna Shields

Tech City UK and a top London university have just launched the world’s first government-funded online tech school.

Yesterday, 16:53
Mohommod and Hamza Nawaz

Two brothers from Stratford have today become the first people in the country to be jailed for terrorist offences after returning from Syria.

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...