Simon Chaplin, Head of the Wellcome Library and former Curator of the Hunterian Museum, explores the intriguing and often gruesome story of anatomy museums, dissection and specimens with Quentin Cooper.
The mystery object was the preserved femur of Frederick Cornwallis, Archbishop of Canterbury, who died in 1783. It is part of the Hunterian Museum collection and was preserved by John Hunter after a post mortem he carried out on the Archbishop. Hunter subsequently displayed it (to the public, as well as to medical students) in his museum in Leicester Square.
See the object
This femur is part of the museum and archive collections at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, reference RCSHC/P 379.
This event was recorded live at Wellcome Collection on 28 September 2011.