London is a city full of history and culture, but many tourists tend to stick to the well-trodden path of the popular attractions such as the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, and the British Museum. However, there are plenty of hidden gems in the city waiting to be discovered. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at some of the lesser-known and off-the-beaten-path attractions in London that are worth exploring.
- The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret
The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret is a hidden gem of a museum that provides visitors with a unique insight into the history of surgery and medicine. Located in the roof of St Thomas’ Church near London Bridge, the museum is housed in the oldest surviving operating theatre in Europe, which was in use from 1822 to 1862.
Visitors to the museum can explore the operating theatre, which was used for surgical demonstrations and teaching purposes. The theatre has been restored to its original state, with tiered seating for spectators and an operating table in the center of the room. The museum also has a collection of antique surgical instruments, which are displayed in cabinets around the room.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the museum is the herb garret, which was used to store and dry herbs for medicine. Visitors can climb a narrow spiral staircase to the garret, which is located above the operating theatre. The garret has been recreated to give visitors a sense of what it would have looked like in the 19th century, with shelves of herbs and plants hanging from the ceiling.
The museum also has displays on the history of medicine, including information on the development of anesthesia, antiseptics, and antibiotics. Visitors can learn about the challenges and risks of surgery in the 19th century, and the important role that the operating theatre played in medical education and research.
In addition to the permanent exhibits, the museum also hosts temporary exhibitions and events throughout the year. Recent exhibitions have included “Pain, Pus and Poison: The Search for Modern Medicines” and “Buried Treasure: The Story of London’s Lost Cemeteries”. The museum also hosts talks, workshops, and demonstrations on a range of topics, from the history of medicine to herbal remedies and traditional healing practices.
Visiting the Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret is a fascinating and educational experience that is not to be missed. The museum provides a unique window into the world of 19th-century surgery and medicine, and offers visitors a chance to learn about the history of medicine and the role that it has played in shaping our understanding of the human body and the nature of disease.
- The Leake Street Tunnel
The Leake Street Tunnel, also known as the “Banksy Tunnel,” is a unique attraction located in the heart of London. The tunnel runs underneath the platforms of Waterloo Station, and is a popular spot for street artists to showcase their work.
The tunnel was originally created during the construction of the railway in the 19th century, but was abandoned for many years before becoming a haven for street artists in the early 2000s. In 2008, the world-renowned artist Banksy organized an exhibition in the tunnel, which brought it to international attention and helped to establish its reputation as a hub of street art.
Today, the tunnel is a constantly evolving gallery of graffiti and street art, with new pieces being added and replaced on a regular basis. The walls are covered in a kaleidoscope of colors, shapes, and images, ranging from intricate murals to simple tags.
Visitors to the tunnel can wander through the space, taking in the vast array of artwork on display. The tunnel’s unusual location gives the artwork a unique context, and the interplay between the industrial space and the vibrant, colorful art creates a striking visual contrast.
In addition to being a popular destination for street art enthusiasts, the tunnel has also been used for a range of other events and activities. It has been the site of music performances, fashion shows, and even a temporary ice rink.
While the Leake Street Tunnel is not a traditional tourist attraction, it offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of street art and the creative subcultures that thrive in the city. Whether you are a seasoned art enthusiast or simply looking for an offbeat and unusual experience, a visit to the Banksy Tunnel is well worth the trip.
- The Cinema Museum
The Cinema Museum is a hidden gem of a museum located in the Kennington area of London. It is housed in the historic Master’s House of the former Lambeth Workhouse, which dates back to the 19th century. The museum is dedicated to the history of cinema and film exhibition in Britain, with a particular focus on the golden age of cinema in the 1930s and 1940s.
The collection of the Cinema Museum is vast and varied, with an impressive array of artifacts, memorabilia, and equipment related to the history of cinema. Visitors can see vintage film projectors, original film posters, and even costumes and props from classic movies. There are also exhibits on the history of movie theaters, including information on the architecture and design of cinemas in the early 20th century.
One of the highlights of the museum is its collection of historic film cameras, which includes a number of rare and unusual models. Visitors can learn about the development of film technology and the evolution of cameras over time, from the earliest silent movie cameras to modern digital equipment.
The Cinema Museum also hosts a range of events and screenings throughout the year. These include screenings of classic films, talks and lectures by film historians and experts, and even film-themed quizzes and games nights. The museum also offers guided tours of its collection, led by knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteers who can share their expertise and insights into the history of cinema.
For film lovers and history buffs alike, the Cinema Museum is a must-visit destination. It offers a unique and fascinating glimpse into the history of cinema in Britain, and provides a valuable resource for anyone interested in the art and technology of film.
- The Geffrye Museum
The Geffrye Museum is a fascinating and unique museum located in the Hoxton area of London. The museum is housed in a series of historic buildings that were once almshouses for the poor and elderly, and it is dedicated to exploring the history of domestic life in Britain.
The museum’s collection focuses on the interior design and decoration of British homes from the 1600s to the present day. Visitors can wander through a series of period rooms, each one meticulously recreated to reflect the decor and furnishings of a particular era. The rooms include a 17th-century hall, a Georgian parlour, a Victorian drawing room, and a mid-20th century living room, among others.
The museum’s exhibits are complemented by a range of interactive displays and multimedia presentations, which help to bring the history of domestic life to life. Visitors can learn about the social and cultural contexts that shaped the design and decoration of British homes over the centuries, and gain a deeper understanding of how people lived in different eras.
In addition to its permanent collection, the Geffrye Museum also hosts a range of temporary exhibitions and special events throughout the year. These include talks and lectures, workshops and craft activities, and even period-themed food and drink events.
For anyone interested in the history of design and decoration, or simply curious about how people lived in the past, the Geffrye Museum is a must-visit destination. Its collection of period rooms and exhibits offer a unique and fascinating insight into the history of domestic life in Britain, and its innovative and engaging displays make it a museum experience unlike any other.
- The Wellcome Collection
The Wellcome Collection is a museum and library located in the Euston area of London. The collection was established by Sir Henry Wellcome, a philanthropist and medical entrepreneur who was fascinated by the history of medicine and science.
The collection includes over 1.5 million objects and artifacts related to the history of medicine and health, ranging from ancient medical texts and surgical instruments to contemporary art installations and interactive exhibits. Visitors can explore the collection through a series of themed galleries and displays, which cover topics such as anatomy, illness and recovery, and the human body.
One of the highlights of the Wellcome Collection is its Medicine Man gallery, which showcases over 1,000 objects from Sir Henry Wellcome’s personal collection. The gallery includes a range of fascinating artifacts, such as mummified human remains, antique medical devices, and tribal masks and sculptures related to healing practices from around the world.
In addition to its museum exhibits, the Wellcome Collection also hosts a range of events and programs throughout the year. These include talks and lectures by leading experts in the fields of medicine and science, film screenings, and performances and workshops related to health and wellbeing.
The Wellcome Collection is a unique and fascinating destination for anyone interested in the history of medicine and science, or simply curious about the human body and its workings. Its collection of artifacts and exhibits offer a rare and insightful glimpse into the history of healing practices and medical innovation, and its diverse range of events and programs make it a dynamic and engaging cultural institution.
- Dennis Severs’ House
Dennis Severs’ House is a unique and atmospheric museum located in the Spitalfields area of London. The house is a time capsule of sorts, transporting visitors back to the 18th century and offering a glimpse into the daily life of a Huguenot silk weaver family.
The house was owned by Dennis Severs, an artist and eccentric collector who spent over 20 years transforming the property into a living museum. Each room of the house is meticulously designed and decorated to reflect a different period of the family’s history, from the 1720s to the 1910s. Visitors can explore the house at their own pace, moving from room to room and experiencing the sights, sounds, and smells of life in an 18th century Huguenot home.
One of the unique features of Dennis Severs’ House is its use of sensory elements to bring the past to life. Visitors are encouraged to immerse themselves in the experience, touching and interacting with the objects and furnishings in the house, and imagining themselves as part of the family’s story.
In addition to its museum exhibits, the house also hosts a range of special events and programs throughout the year. These include candlelit tours, immersive theater performances, and even Christmas dinners in the historic dining room.
- The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities
The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History is a one-of-a-kind museum located in the heart of East London. Founded by Viktor Wynd, a collector and artist, the museum is dedicated to showcasing an eclectic mix of art, artifacts, and oddities from around the world.
The museum’s collection is vast and varied, with exhibits ranging from taxidermy specimens and medical instruments to ancient artifacts and contemporary art installations. Visitors can explore a series of themed galleries, each one devoted to a different subject or theme, such as death and the afterlife, sexuality and the body, and magic and the occult.
One of the highlights of the Viktor Wynd Museum is its collection of taxidermy, which includes a range of unusual and exotic specimens, such as a two-headed lamb and a giant squid. The museum also features a range of rare and unusual objects, such as shrunken heads, mummified animals, and antique medical instruments.
In addition to its collection of curiosities, the Viktor Wynd Museum also hosts a range of events and activities throughout the year. These include film screenings, live music performances, and lectures and talks by leading experts in fields such as art, history, and anthropology.
For anyone interested in the strange and unusual, the Viktor Wynd Museum is a must-visit destination. Its collection of curiosities and oddities offer a unique and fascinating glimpse into the weird and wonderful world of human culture and history, and its diverse range of events and activities make it a dynamic and engaging cultural institution.
- The Horniman Museum and Gardens
The Horniman Museum and Gardens is a unique and fascinating museum located in Forest Hill, South London. Founded by Frederick Horniman in the late 19th century, the museum is dedicated to exploring the natural world and human cultures from around the globe.
The museum’s collection includes over 350,000 objects and specimens, ranging from natural history specimens and anthropological artifacts to musical instruments and works of art. Visitors can explore a series of themed galleries, each one devoted to a different subject or theme, such as the natural world, world cultures, and musical instruments.
One of the highlights of the Horniman Museum is its collection of taxidermy animals, which includes a range of exotic and unusual specimens, such as a giant anteater, a giant clam, and a walrus. The museum also features a range of rare and unusual musical instruments, including a set of bronze Javanese gamelan instruments and an ornate Indian harmonium.
In addition to its indoor exhibits, the Horniman Museum is also home to a beautiful set of gardens, which include a range of plants and trees from around the world. The gardens also feature a series of outdoor exhibits, including a giant toadstool sculpture and a sound garden, where visitors can play musical instruments made from natural materials.
The Horniman Museum also hosts a range of events and activities throughout the year, including talks and lectures, workshops and craft activities, and music performances.
For anyone interested in the natural world, human cultures, and the arts, the Horniman Museum and Gardens is a must-visit destination. Its collection of objects and specimens offer a unique and fascinating insight into the diversity of life on Earth, and its beautiful gardens provide a tranquil and peaceful space in which to explore and learn.