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Our history

Painting of historical dissection

St Thomas’ Surgeon, William Cheselden FRS giving an anatomical demonstration to spectators. Painting by Charles Phillips, circa 1730


King’s College London was founded in 1829 as a university college in the tradition of the Church of England. When the University of London was established in 1836, King’s became one of its founding colleges and included a medicine department from the beginning. However, as a result of mergers, including those with the United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals, King’s has a cumulative history of contributions to biomedicine over several centuries, including the pioneering contributions of staff and former students.

Key dates

1107 The Augustinian priory of St Mary Overie is established.

1561 First record of medical instruction at St Thomas’ Hospital.

1656 St Thomas’ Physician Thomas Wharton writes Adenographia, the first known contribution to the scientific understanding of the body from this institution.

1726 The first patients are admitted to the new Guy’s Hospital, named after founder and benefactor Thomas Guy.

1815 Poet John Keats undertakes training at Guy’s Hospital as an apothecary.
1825 James Blundell reports in the Lancet his studies on the first human to human blood transfusions.

1839 King’s College Hospital is founded in Portugal Street in London, later to reopen at its present site in Denmark Hill.

1948 On the creation of the NHS, the medical schools of Guy’s, King’s and St Thomas’ become independent of the hospitals.

1953 Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin publish in Nature their structural studies of DNA.

1983 The United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy’s and St Thomas’ (UMDS) are formed.

1988 Sir James Black wins the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

1998 UMDS merges with King’s College London. Medical teaching and research is organised within the new King’s College London School of Medicine.


King’s College London becomes the university partner of King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre with its NHS partners, Guy’s and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust, King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

2014 Creation of Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine, bringing together the School of Medicine and elements of the School of Biomedical Sciences into a single entity.

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