The Prujean chest, known as a ‘chirurgeon’s storehouse’, is a remarkable collection of 17th century surgical implements used in a time well before anesthesia.
The chest shines a light into the dark period of crude trade where the comfort of anaesthesia and analgesia was unheard of and the harrowing agony of an operation was felt by a very conscious patient. The chest was presented to the RCP by Thomas Prujean, son of the then president Sir Francis Prujean.
Sir Francis Prujean was an eminent London doctor who was president of the College of Physicians from 1650 to 1654. In 1661, Prujean was knighted by Charles II and in 1663 credited with curing Queen Catherine of typhus.
Within the arsenal of renaissance surgical tools were probes and scoops for removing stones, heart shaped equipage for gynaecological investigations and an innocent-looking circular saw for trepanation (the opening of holes in the human skull). All present within the collection.