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The Royal Society of Medicine

The Royal Society of Medicine is one of the UK’s major providers of postgraduate medical education. But when and how was it first established?

In 1773, the Medical Society of London was founded by Dr. John Coakley Lettsome, a Quaker Physician and Philanthropist. The aim of the society was to unite physicians, surgeons and apothecaries and provide them with the opportunity to exchange medical news and advice on difficult cases. The Medical Society of London still exists today and is one of the oldest surviving medical societies in the UK.

However back in early 1800, there was a period of discontent within the Medical Society of London. There were a few members of The Medical Society of London who broke away from the group. By 1805, the Medical and Chirurgical Society was founded by Dr. John Yelloly, Dr. Alexander Marcet and Dr. William Saunders.

Between 1805 to 1810 the Medical and Chirurgical Society occupied two rooms in a barristers’ chambers at Gray’s Inn. The aim was to create a cross-specialty society which shared medical and healthcare knowledge. The society soon began to grow and in 1810, the society moved to Lincoln’s Inn Fields where they stayed for 25 years.

In 1834, the Medical and Chirurgical Society was granted a Royal charter by King William IV and was renamed Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society. The Royal Charter was granted in order to promote physics and surgery along with other related branches of science. The charter was successful in getting new members to join the society and soon, the Medical and Chirurgical Society was in a financial position that enabled them to move to Berners Street and drastically expand their library collection.

During the Victorian era, there was a significant rise in the number of medical societies founded across the UK although, the Medical and Chirurgical Society still remained one of the most prominent.

So how did the Medical and Chirurgical Society eventually become The Royal Society of Medicine? In 1907 Sire Richard Douglas Powell, who was the President of the society at the time was granted his wish to merge with 15 specialist medical societies. It was here that The Royal Society of Medicine was born.

Today, The Royal Society of Medicine hosts over 400 academic and public events every year, covering 56 areas of special interest. It is also home to one of the largest medical libraries in Europe, providing an astonishing range of books, journals and medical databases.

If you feel hungry after your visit, come by Aubaine for some authentic French cuisine.

Next up: Wigmore Hall

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