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Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury Institutions


Charlotte Street School of Medicine

Also known as Bedford Free Dispensary


It was established in or before the 1820s by George Darby Dermott to teach students preparing for entry to the various medical professions

It was run jointly by Dermott and Dr T. S. Harrison, of 14 Gower Street

It closed after about 25 years of operation

What was reforming about it?

Dermott frequently clashed with the medical establishment; his low fees encouraged poor students and brough accusations that he was opening up the profession to the wrong kind of man (Adrian Desmond, ‘Artisan Resistance and Evolution in Britain, 1819–1848,’ Osiris, series 2, vol. 3, 1987)

Where in Bloomsbury

The School was run from Dermott’s home at 15 Charlotte Street, Bloomsbury, from about 1827; prior to this, it had apparently been located in the Westminster Dispensary in Gerrard Street, Soho

Its timetable was included in the listings of medical schools in The Lancet, 26 September 1840, which also had listings for a Hunterian School close by at no. 20 Charlotte Street, Bloomsbury (this cannot be the famous Hunterian School from Great Windmill Street, which had closed in 1838)

It was still listed at no. 15 Charlotte Street (the part of the street which later became Bloomsbury Street) in the Post Office directory of 1841

In 1842 it was advertised that Dermott had moved his School of Medicine to “new and spacious premises” (The Times, 29 September 1842)

However, the London Medical Directory for 1845 lists him still at 15 Bloomsbury Street, the “Charlotte Street School of Medicine”

And a letter from Dermott dated 7 October 1846 to the Medical Journal says that he moved both home and school in December 1845 to 28 Bedford Square (Medical Journal, 10 October 1846)

He had retained the name because that was how it had been known to the public for the last fourteen or fifteen years, even though Charlotte Street itself was now known as Bloomsbury Street (Medical Journal, 10 October 1846)

Website of current institution

It no longer exists

Books about it

There is some account of its and Dermott’s history in F. N. L. Poynter, The Evolution of Medical Education in Britain (1966), and in Adrian Desmond, The Politics of Evolution: Morphology, Medicine, and Reform in Radical London (1989)


None found

This page last modified 13 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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