House of Death: corpses became a test of courage and cold-bloodedness to all who dared to set foot there

This is an excerpt from Lindsey Fitzharris’ book “The Craft of Butchering” published by Lions Not Sheep. Creepy medicine”, section The house of death. The book was translated by Diana Urbonė. We warn readers of more sensitive nerves that the passage will contain descriptions of medical interventions.

Already at the very beginning of his studies, Lister had to see a similar picture with his own eyes. A central walkway divided the dark anatomy hall in half, each with five wooden tables. Corpses lay with their necks cut, heads hanging over the edge of the table, pools of blood pooling on the ground. The floor was covered with a thick layer of sawdust, so it was eerily quiet in this house of death. One of Lister’s classmates observed: “Not even my own footsteps could be heard. <...> Only the muffled and monotonous sound of carriages rolling through the streets of London, seeping through the roof vents…”

Although University College London and its hospital in 1847 were relatively new buildings, but the anatomy room was as dreary as the older institutions. It contained all kinds of horrible sights, sounds and smells.

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