- November 2001 (Creation)
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St George's, University of London (legal name St George's Hospital Medical School, informally St George's or SGUL), is a medical school located in Tooting in South West London. The Medical School shares a closely related history with St George's Hospital, which opened in 1733 at Lanesborough House, Hyde Park Corner in Central London. St George's was the second institution in England to provide formal training courses for doctors (after the University of Oxford). The Medical School became a constituent college of the University of London soon after the latter's establishment in 1836.
From the very beginning, the physicians and surgeons were permitted by the laws of the Hospital to have a limited number of pupils. A formal register of pupils was maintained from 1752. The earliest recorded course of lectures at the hospital was that delivered by Sir Everard Home some time before 1803. Prior to this, there were no lectures and little regular teaching at all in the Hospital other than what the students could pick up from the physicians and surgeons on their way round the wards. Attempts to remedy this situation were a cause of friction between renowned surgeon John Hunter and his colleagues. In 1793 they drew up a number of suggestions and regulations relating to the instruction and discipline of the pupils of the hospital.
From the beginning of the nineteenth century medical training became more structured, and pupils at St George's were required to learn anatomy at either Hunter's, Lane's, Carpue's or Brookes' schools of anatomy, which were private academies set up for this purpose. Chemistry was taught at the Royal Institution in Albermarle Street in addition to the clinical subjects which were dealt with at St George's Hospital.
Samuel Lane's anatomy school was known as 'The School of Anatomy and Medicine adjoining St George's Hospital'. Due to disagreement between Mr Lane and other medical officers at St George's, it was seen as essential to have a school of anatomy more closely connected to St George's and controlled by staff there. This led to surgeon Benjamin Brodie purchasing a house on Kinnerton Street, which he then leased back to St George's for use as an anatomy theatre, a lecture room and a museum. As a result of this, for 20 years there were now two rival schools associated with St George's. Attempts were made to amalgamate the two schools, but none succeeded. Finally the Kinnerton School moved to buildings attached to the hospital in 1968 and became the sole "Medical School of St George's Hospital". Lane's school closed down in 1863.
Although pupils were trained at the Hospital from its foundation, the medical school was not formally established until 1834 when it opened at the premises on Kinnerton Street. The formal opening ceremony for the school was held in 1835 in the Anatomy Theatre on the premises, and saw the dissection of an ancient Egyptian mummy.
In 1868 the medical school at Kinnerton Street was moved to the buildings at the south-west corner of the hospital site in Hyde Park itself, with the main entrance in Knightsbridge and the back entrance on Grosvenor Crescent Mews. Until 1946 the Medical School, although recognised as a School of London University, was controlled by a Medical School Committee, made up of honorary staff of the Hospital. In 1945 the Medical School Committee was divided into a School Council and an Academic Board.
In 1915, in response to wartime staff shortages, St George's admitted its first four female medical students. Just before the outbreak of World War Two, it was decided that Saint George's needed to be rebuilt on its Hyde Park Corner site. The plan was however abandoned by the commencement of the war. During the War, against a background of the population shift from central London, discussions took place which paved the way for Saint George's to be rebuilt and transferred out of the city centre. With the introduction of the National Health Service in 1948, the hospital became part of the Saint George's Hospital Teaching Group of the South West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board. Soon after, the Board of Governors persuaded Aneurin Bevan, the Minister of Health, that the new Hospital should be built on the Grove Fever Hospital and Fountain Hospital sites in Tooting.
The building of the new Saint George's at Tooting, South West London, began in 1973. The first phase of the new Saint George's Hospital Medical School opened in 1976. The Hospital at Hyde Park closed its doors for the final time in 1980 and HM Queen Elizabeth II formally opened the new St George's Hospital and Medical School at Tooting on 6 November 1980.