London?s more unusual museums to explore

Posted by Joe Sheer on October 11th, 2017

There is no exaggeration in stating that London is home to some of the finest museums in the world. For those who love learning about history and culture and are museum aficionados, the city offers plenty of world class museums and art galleries to explore. From the iconic British Museum to the unusual Ripley’s Believe it or not, there are museums galore to explore in the city.

If you plan a trip to visit the many attractions in London, then staying at a hotel in London’s West End would be the ideal location. It offers convenient access to the most prominent attractions in central London along with the many museums in the area.

If you plan to tour the city with friends staying in the city there are plenty of meeting places in West End London to choose from. Piccadilly Circus or Trafalgar Square are two such popular locations to meet up.

If you have had your fill of visiting the more prominent museums in London and want to see something different, try some of the more quirky museums located across the city. These include the following places:

The London Canal Museum: The Thames River has played a crucial role in the development of London through the ages, with its numerous waterways and canals. The London Canal Museum offers a unique insight into the history of the canals, the people who earned their livelihoods from transport on the waterways, the engineering feats accomplished in building the canals and plenty more of interesting facts and information. There is the Stable Area and the popular Horse Power Exhibition to visit. Visitors are captivated with tales of trade in ice brought all the way from Norway, to keep Londoners cool during the Victorian era. In fact, the building was formerly a large ice warehouse. There is a massive ice well preserved as it was in the early days. There are numerous exhibitions, costumes, art, family activities and even archive films about the museum. Visitors get to learn about the canal boat people, who lived on the waterways, and even a tiny cabin where a whole family lived. On certain dates there even are boat trips through the tunnel.

Two Temple Place: Not too many have even heard about Two Temple Place! It is a unique private home secreted away in the Strand area. It has the unusual honour of being the first home in the city to have a telephone connection. The American property tycoon William Waldorf Astor built the place in the 19th century. Since 1999 the Bulldog Trust owns and manages the place. The venue pays for its own upkeep and maintenance from income generated by it as a high end party venue. The property is a blend of romance, literary style and exquisite craftsmanship. At the entrance there are a number of cherubs, with one seeming to chat on a phone. Once you enter inside, the rooms are massive and stately with a number of literary figures, including several characters from Shakespearean plays and even Rip Van Winkle. Probably the highlight is a tour of the Great Hall where some of the finest statuary of various historical figures like Anne Boleyn, Pocahontas and Mary Queen of Scots are found. During the month of September, the home is a part of the Open House London event and hosts an exhibition and tours.

Leighton House Museum: The museum underwent a massive restoration and refurbishment programme in 2010, which cost the exchequer a cool £1.6 million. The project was a resounding success as it helped to restore and preserve key aspects of the property including a concealed staircase. George Aitcheson built Leighton House in the 1860s for the famous Victorian era artist Frederic Leighton. Located in Holland Park, the home was furnished with priceless treasures from across the globe, and creations’ of Leighton and his contemporaries. The property is a work of art by itself with every bit exquisitely designed which drew inspiration from Leighton’s personal travels across Europe. There were magnificent soirees and parties held in the stately reception rooms downstairs, customised for lavish parties. A magnificent staircase carries through to a huge spacious and light-filled studio on the first floor.  There were four additional extensions added to the property later, with the piece-de-resistance its ‘Arab Hall’, which exhibited Leighton’s vast collection of 16th century glazed tiles from the Middle East. The house was purpose built to showcase the artistic creations of Frederic Leighton in entirety. The only private quarters on the property is a single small bedroom of Leighton. Leighton House is an architectural masterpiece with exceptional art pieces exhibited on the property.

Old Operating Theatre Museum:  If you want to see how patients were treated before modern operating techniques were adopted pay a visit to the Old Operating Theatre Museum located in the attic of St Thomas's Church. It is the oldest operating theatre of its kind that was custom built in 1821. Post renovation and restoration it consists of authentic medical equipment and furniture, which includes pathological specimens, a 19th century operating table and surgical instruments. Getting up to the top is bit of a challenge with visitors having to ascend via a dizzying wooden staircase, where they get to see the early days operating theatre that has tiered seating arrangements for medical interns.  Macabre and gruesome as it was in those pre-anaesthetic days, re-enactments are sometimes held for the public using fearsome medical implements that look befitting for the Spanish Inquisition! The museums also plays host to several exhibitions at different parts of the year.

Dennis Severs’ House: A visit to Dennis Severs’ House is like visiting a time capsule. The tours are conducted in silence which adds to the experience of seeing the place. Spread across ten rooms it originally was a Huguenot home. The home is a recreation of the way life would have been for the inhabitants staying there between the periods 1724 to 1914. Visitors are escorted tour through various rooms both upstairs and downstairs. There are lingering smells, a lit hearth and candles and items haphazardly scattered all though the property, which makes one believe the residents have just stepped out.

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Joe Sheer

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Joe Sheer
Joined: September 29th, 2017
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