A Curious Invitation present London Month of the Dead
The Soho Dissection Room
The Use of the London Dead to the Living with David Bingham

Saturday 15th October 2022 at 1:30 pm

The once celebrated surgeon and anatomist Joseph Constantine Carpue (1764–1846) and his medical school in Soho  are now almost completely forgotten, Carpue's reputation eclipsed by those of envious contemporaries who dismissed him as “a clever but very eccentric person”. Although a Catholic, a political radical and something of an outsider, his many medical achievements, which included performing the first rhinoplasty in Britain in 1814 (replacing a nose severed by a French sabre at the Battle of Albuera) and amputating the leg of Charles Dickens’ favourite uncle, led to royal patronage and a highly successful career.

But Carpue’s career had a darker side. At his anatomy school in Dean Street students frequently watched him haggle over the price of corpses with resurrection men; "Gentlemen, that's the cheapest piece of beef I have bought this year!" he announced proudly after one successful negotiation. This talk will look at Carpue’s most outrageous cases; hear how he crucified the corpse of a Chelsea pensioner for the instruction of a group of Royal Academicians, about his experiments electrocuting the cadavers of executed murderers, the dissection of the sword fencing, cross dressing Chevalier d’Eon, his involvement in a royal homosexual scandal in which a Duke’s valet has his throat cut, and the boy from Devon with a foetus in his abdomen.

Tickets £12 including a 20% donation toward a host of restoration projects at Kensal Green Cemetery.

David Bingham
Originally from South Yorkshire, David Bingham has been living in London for over 40 years. He loves the city and its history and has been blogging as The London Dead since 2013, as a way of sharing his fascination with the stories he discovers in the city’s cemeteries and churchyards.

Image credit - The interior of a dissecting room. Five students and one teacher disect a human corpse around 1900. Public domain courtesy of Wellcome Collection.

Kensal Green Cemetery