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A College transformed: The Royal College of Surgeons of England headquarters reopen with a new vision for the future

12 Jul 2021

  • Lincoln’s Inn Fields building relaunch marks major milestone in changing the face of surgery

The Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS England) has opened its new headquarters in London today (12 July 2021). The College’s Lincoln’s Inn Fields building has been transformed from a sprawling warren of corridors, built in the aftermath of WWII, to a state-of-the-art training centre for future generations of surgeons and dental professionals. 

The newly refurbished front of the Royal College of Surgeons of England headquarters in London.    The atrium within the new Royal College of Surgeons of England headquarters in London.

The redevelopment retains the historic frontage designed by Palace of Westminster architect Sir Charles Barry, whilst the rear focuses on being high-tech and environmentally sustainable, reflecting the College’s changing functions as a home for surgical excellence in the UK and across the world. 

Central to the building’s makeover, are the state-of-the-art learning, examinations, and event facilities, including the Professional Surgical Centre. This is complemented by the Lumley Library, contemporary meeting rooms, members’ areas, Surgical Speciality Association facilities, office zones, and a new public entrance and café'

The College is also launching The View, a modern, light, and flexible space for meetings, conferences, weddings, and parties. The View boasts beautiful views over the city, and a terrace for guests to enjoy on summer evenings. The Hunterian Museum, which is also housed in the College and is a popular destination for tourists, will reopen in early 2023. 

The project to transform the building began in 2017 under the Presidency of Dame Clare Marx. Commenting on the building re-opening, the current RCS England President, Professor Neil Mortensen, said:

“We’re immensely proud to move into our new building today. It is a wonderful blend of old and new, with an atmosphere that combines a legacy of excellence with future innovation. 

“The College is looking to change the face of surgery in many ways. We have started our journey by creating a space, both in the building and online, where the best surgical minds can come together to learn and share ideas on how best to promote excellent surgical care for all. However, we know that if surgery is to survive and thrive, we also need to focus our attentions on issues that will further the surgical profession in years to come – including diversity, wellbeing, and sustainability. 

“So, alongside our new headquarters and commitment to change the face of surgery, we are also launching a new five-year strategy, with a particular focus on promoting diversity, inclusion, and fairness in our College and right across the surgical and dental profession. 

“It is an exciting time for the College. As Covid-19 restrictions start to ease, we look forward to welcoming our diverse surgical family to their professional home over the coming months. We have no doubt that our new home of surgery will shape the future of our profession and help us, together, to change the face of surgery.”

Changing the face of surgery – our new five-year strategy 

Together with the launch of its new headquarters, The Royal College of Surgeons of England is also launching a new strategy for the next five years. The strategy brings together a new vision, mission, values, and strategic aims, marking RCS England’s place in a post-COVID world. It sets out what the College will do to support members, the wider surgical and dental workforce, patients, the NHS, and policymakers to recover from the impact of the pandemic on services, training, and standards across England, the devolved nations of the UK and beyond. It also sets out how the College will explore the opportunities of the digital age, and address the challenges of professional specialisation, changing workforce expectations and record waiting lists for surgery. 

The new strategy has a particular focus on promoting diversity, inclusion, and equity within the College and right across the surgical and dental profession.

Historic premises

The Royal College of Surgeons of England has its origins in the Company of Barber-Surgeons in 1540, under Henry VIII. In 1799 the government purchased the collection of John Hunter, the famous scientist and surgeon, and entrusted it to the surgeons.  A Royal Charter was granted in 1800, and the Hunterian Museum opened in 1813.  The original Lincoln’s Inn building was so badly built, it was thought to be in danger of collapsing.  Following a public competition in 1833, Sir Charles Barry – who went on to design the Palace of Westminster - designed the tall columns of the listed portico and the library, which survive to this day.  

The rest of Barry’s building was severely damaged in the Second World War, although fortunately the iconic statue of John Hunter emerged unscathed. It has been reinstated in the main reception area of the new building.  

The new building 

Barry’s famous north frontage and library have been preserved and restored. 

The Hunterian Museum, which will re-open in early 2023, benefits from a new façade and entrance on the south side of Portugal Street. The museum will be expanded to occupy most of the ground floor. It will tell the story of surgery, giving the public access to John Hunter’s seminal anatomical collections, through seven linked halls and galleries, culminating in an exhibition which celebrates modern surgery and patients’ stories. 

The new modern building is more environmentally sustainable; replacing poorly performing post-war elements to meet modern environmental standards. A highly insulated and airtight envelope ensures thermal and energy efficiency, combined with improvements in building services, energy use, ventilation, and the internal environment. Photovoltaic panels provide a sustainable energy source on the roof. There is space for 120+ cyclists to store their bikes, shower, and change, promoting active travel. The completed building achieves a BREEAM Excellent rating. 

Regional and global reach 

Our transformation also involves providing more opportunities and support for our members across the UK and internationally. This includes developing our digital offer and expanding our regional and global networks to ensure that our members, wherever they are, can access the best training, development, and support. Our Global Team support surgeons and their teams in 90 countries from Australia to Ethiopia, whilst our Outreach Team, who have offices in both Manchester and London, work to connect members from all four nations of the United Kingdom.

You can learn more about the transformation of The Royal College of Surgeons of England building, and its new strategy here: 


Notes to editors:

1.The Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS England) is a professional membership organisation and registered charity, which exists to advance patient care.  We support our national and global membership, providing education, assessment, and development to nearly 30,000 surgeons, dental surgeons, and members of the wider surgical and dental teams at all stages of their career; we set professional standards, facilitate research, and champion world-class surgical outcomes for patients. We want to see excellent surgical care for everyone and will achieve our vision by enabling all our members, in all their diversity, to deliver excellence in everything they do. 
2. The RCS England Press Office will provide opportunities for journalists to visit the new building, and surgical training centre, later this year.
3. High resolution images of the new building are available on request. Please contact the RCS England Press Office.
4. The redevelopment of the building has been carried out by Wates Group. Their extensive portfolio of heritage projects across London includes the refurbishment of the V&A Museum extension, the Metropolitan Police Service’s Grade II listed Hammersmith Police Station and multiple buildings on Parliament’s Westminster estates. 
5. Hawkins\Brown has led the refurbishment and extension of the Grade II*-listed Royal College of Surgeons headquarters, consolidating their existing accommodation from two buildings into one. The new state-of-the-art facility respects and enhances the listed building while meeting current and future needs of the college. It provides new facilities such as flexible teaching spaces, examination rooms, function rooms, a cafe, and a large glazed central atrium. The project also includes the redesign and relocation of the historic Hunterian Museum.
6. More information about our event space The View can be found here: 
7. Further information on BREEAM rating: 
8. For more information, please contact the Press Office: Tel. 0207 869 6052/6047; email: For out-of-hours media enquiries, please telephone: 0207 869 6056.

Notes to editors

The Royal College of Surgeons of England is a professional membership organisation and registered charity, which exists to advance surgical standards and improve patient care.

For more information, please contact the RCS Press Office:

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