As this museum is next to the Wellington Barracks where the new guard is formed before leaving for the change of guards at Buckingham Palace, I paid a visit to this museum at the opening at 10 am.
The museum contains information and artefacts relating to the five regiments of Foot Guards namely Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards. Along with the two regiments of Household Cavalry they make up Her Majesty’s Household Division and are guarding The Sovereign and the Royal Palaces.
The Guards are elite regiments existing since about 350 years and involved in almost every major campaign since their creation. They fought in France and Belgium during WW I and WW II. The Guards Armoured division liberated a large part of Belgium begin September 1944.
For me they were the first friendly soldiers I saw on 3-4th September 1944 when they liberated Brussels. I received my first chewing gum probably from a Welsh Guard on a Cromwell tank (ref my tip on the liberation of Brussels Bruxelles-Brussel )
The dominating colour in the museum is that of crimson of the Guards tunics.
It is clear that the collection is intended to help young Guardsmen learn about their regimental heritage and to show a wider public the multi-faceted nature of their operational lives both in combat and on ceremonial duties.
The tourist attending the change of guards at Buckingham might think that Guards are only there for the parade. This is quite wrong; Guard regiments are operational and were fighting in Afghanistan. On the day before my visit the Welsh Guards had their colonel killed by a roadside bomb in Helmand, South Afghanistan.
Open each day 10:00am to 4:00pm
Admission (2013): Adults - £5.00. Senior Citizens and Students - £2.50. Serving Military Personnel - £1.00.
Free: 16 years
No photos allowed
The Museum of London Docklands is a part of the Museum of London - but it is located on the Isle of Dogs by Canary Wharf. The Museum of London Docklands, which opened in 2003, focuses on the river Thames and the history of the Docklands.
The museum is on 3 floors and I started on the top floor. There were models of the old London Bridge from the 1600s, when there were houses and shops on the bridge. And the development of the bridge could be found in other parts of the museum, a really interesting history it has.
There were also some whale jaw bones on this floor dating back to the 1700s - found in the river Thames. I also saw a gibbet cage, which was used for pirates and some criminals in the 1700s.
Here was a section on the museum dedicated to the dreadful story of London sugar and slavery from 1600s etc. It was a difficult part to walk through and read up on, the cruelty of the slavery was horrid. I was in tears while walking through here. I don´t want to add any photos of the slavery to my tip, so I add a photo of the Thomas Fowell Buxton´s table. Thomas Fowell Buxton was a Member of the Parliament and thanks to him the Bill for the Abolition of Slavery was accepted in the House of Commons. And gradually slavery was abolished.
On the 2nd floor was the Sailortown (1840-1850) dark alleyways of stores and pubs, it was almost too real and kind of scary being there alone.
Here was also depicted the story of the Dock Strike, and WW II - there was a consol shelter, which one could step into, not a good feeling, I say.
Indeed a museum worth visiting, it was very informative and shed a light on the Docklands and Thames in olden times until modern times.
Opening hours: every day from 10:00-18:00.
Photos are allowed without flash.
The William Morris Society was founded in 1955 in London, England. The Society’s office and museum are in the basement and Coach House of Kelmscott House, Hammersmith, Morris’s London home for the last 18 years of his life.
The Society aims to make more well-known the life and work of the Victorian designer, artist, writer, and socialist, William Morris (1834–1896) and his associates.
Kelmscott House dates from the 1780s and is now chiefly associated with the designer, poet and socialist William Morris [1834-96] who lived here from 1878 until his death. He was not the first distinguished man to live in the house - in 1816 Sir Francis Ronalds constructed the first electric telegraph in the garden and in 1867 George MacDonald, the well known writer moved in; two of his most popular childrens' books, At the Back of the North Wind  and The Princess and the Goblin  were written here.
Morris took a lease on the house in April 1878 and almost immediately changed the name from The Retreat to Kelmscott House, named after Kelmscott Manor, his 17th century country house in Gloucestershire. He was particularly pleased that both houses stood beside the Thames and he made two boat journeys between them.
Soon after moving in Morris began experiments with weaving. He set up a tapestry loom in his ground floor bedroom and carpet looms in the Coach House. The latter were moved to his new works at Merton Abbey in 1881. The small rugs and carpets made here are known as Hammersmith rugs and bear the woven device of a hammer in the border.
The museum is open on Thursday and Saturday afternoons between 14.00 and 17.00.
William Hogarth was a famous English artist - his most famous work is a street scene called Gin Street - and he bought this house in Chiswick in 1749 as his country home. Today it is surrounded by ugly buildings and major roads and the country is a long way away but this house is tranquil and protected from traffic noise by a high wall.
It became a museum in 1904 but was fully restored in 2011 and gives a remarkable insight to a house from Hogarths time but also shows a large array of his works.
Admission is free and the house in closed on Mondays (unless it is a public holiday).
The garden is nice too and the mulberry tree in the garden is older than the house.
There is a toilet here too and disabled access to the ground floor only.
The Gallery is at the entry of Somerset House. You have to pay to visit the Courtauld Gallery but you can take photos, something forbidden at the National Gallery.
It is a small museum with 15 rooms (3 for temporary exhibitions) on two floors but is has some outstanding Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings on display. There are also works from the Renaissance and Baroque periods but it are for sure the paintings from the 20th c. for which visitors pay.
Outstanding are the famous masterpieces such as van Gogh’s "Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear", Manet’s great last painting "Bar aux Folies-Bergères", from Renoir "La Loge" and several paintings from Cézanne and Degas.
Closer to us in time are the French "Fauves" and a famous "Female Nude" from Modigliani. I found here also a Kandinsky, a contemporary painter I liked when I was young.
On the time of my visit there was a special exhibition "Toulouse-Lautrec and Jane Avril - Beyond the Moulin Rouge" which attracted many British visitors.
It's a fact that the Courtauld Gallery has a public of amateurs and connoisseurs different from the public of the National Gallery.
Open: Daily 10.00 – 18.00 h (last admission 17.30)
Admission Adults £6; Concessions £5 (includes over 60s, international students).
On Mondays 3£.
Free admission for under 18s, full-time UK students.
Admission charge includes entrance to all temporary exhibitions and displays.
The Royal Academy of Music is in Marylebone. It was founded in 1822 and has a museum on 3 floors with an awesome collection on musical instruments, manuscripts and photographs.
On the first floor is my favourite - the Strings Gallery - with myriads of valuable violins from the Golden Age of violin making, from the late 16th to the early 18th century. Here are so many Stradivari violins on display, that I was overwhelmed by their beauty and excellence. Here on display is f.ex. the Stradivari "Viotti ex-Bruce" from 1709, which is one of few left in pristine condition. I also saw a Stradivari viola "Archinto" from 1696, but only ten Stradivari violas still exist, this one being the most elegant.
The oldest violin on display is a violin from Cremona dating back to ca 1575, made by Andrea Amati, who was known as the father of violin making.
The RAM collection consists of more than 250 instruments, but only a small part of their collection is on display, some of them are in use.
On the second floor is the Piano Gallery with pianos from the 18th and 19th century - showing the development of pianos through the ages. Here are some beautiful instruments on display, the oldest one is a harpsichord from ca 1600-1650. On display is a Square Piano from ca 1785. Mozart had a piano like this and on display is a letter from him to his father asking him to order such a piano.
I just felt so much respect around these old instrument - both the violins and the pianos - that I was reduced to tears. Even though one is not a big fan of musical instruments I would highly recommend popping into this museum when in this area - it is so worth it.
Sir Elton John studied at the Royal Academy of Music - to name just one.
Opening hours: Monday-Friday from 11:30-17:30. Saturdays from 12:00-16:00.
Photos without flash are permitted. One has to ask for permission before taking photos though as there are manuscripts with copyright.
The Quadriga Gallery is an exhibition space at the Wellington Arch.
When I visited in March 2013 there was an exhibition called "The General, The Scientist & The Banker: The Birth of Archaeology and the Battle for the Past".
On the top floor are several photos of Britain´s prehistoric sites and the story told how they were saved from destruction. An Ancient Monuments Protection Act was made in 1882, which had on its schedule to save 68 monuments in Britain and Ireland, of which there were 26 in England. They claimed that the "very land was a museum". In 1913 the Ancient Monuments Consolidation and Amendment Act was made. That lead to the "National Heritage Collection" - Europe´s most ambitious outdoor museum (as it says in the brochure I got at the gallery). I had no idea that England had so many ancient monument and oddities, as it were. I had known about Stonehenge and some others, but that there are so many came as a surprise to me. This is why I love to visit museums and galleries in London, as I love to learn about England´s history.
On the floor below there was an exhibition on Charles Darwin and a first edition of his book "On the Origin of Species". Plus many archaeological finds, f.ex. a flint handax and bones of destinct animals, which were found together in a quarry in 1859. On display is also the book "Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London" published by Joseph Prestwich in 1860 on the axes. There are some extraordinary finds there in display. Very informative indeed.
In the corridor by the lift are drawings of indigenous communities and spears and clubs from the collection of Sir John Lubbock.
Opening hours: Wednesday-Sunday from 10:00-17:00. Monday and Tuesday closed.
Admission: GBP 4.
Photos without flash are allowed.
This has been one of our favourite destinations in London for many years, and a move to a new location a few years ago has done nothing to change that. As keen photographers we love to explore the work of all sorts of photographers, and almost always find something to interest, inspire or intrigue us in the gallery’s regularly changing exhibitions. These are very varied and could feature an established “name” in the world of photography, relative newcomers or perhaps students or prize-winners. Themes can be challenging but are only occasionally dull. As an example, a description of a May 2009 exhibitions reads:
”The internationally renowned artists in this exhibition use stitching, cutting, piercing and punching to explore the ambiguous space between two and three dimensions. Dissatisfied with the conventional function of photography as a surface that reproduces the external world, these artists test the materiality of their medium.”
Admission to the gallery is free, and there are usually two or three shows on at any one time, so there’s always plenty to see. The gallery also has an excellent shop selling books on photography, postcards and prints. For more serious shopping, collectors will be interested in the print sales room, where prices start at a reasonable £150. There are regular talks and events (some free, some at a small charge) and courses on the history and on the theory of photography. Lastly, the small café serves hot and cold drinks, sandwiches and delicious home-made cakes in pleasant surroundings only a stone’s throw from hectic Oxford Street.
Tuesday, Wednesday & Saturday: 11.00 – 18.00
Thursday & Friday: 11.00 – 20.00
Sunday: 12.00 – 18.00
Now this is a fun museum in the Fitzroy area of London. It is a museum in 2 old houses (from the 18th and 19th century) packed with old toys in several rooms. One walks up a narrow stair-case trying to see all the toys by the stair-case, then into one room, up more stairs, then into several rooms crammed with such fun toys, then down some narrow stairs, with toys all over the walls - and straight into a toy-store, filled with replicas of old toy. It is just ever so entertaining - if one is a kid or a kid at heart :D
Here one can find such a vast and varied selection of toys that one gets almost confused, especially as it is located in small rooms in these old houses. But it is so much fun as here are old toys from all over the world, so many different types of dolls, some of them have a sad expression on their face. I saw dolls like this in the V&A Museum of Childhood. I gather it must show the spirit of the times, times were hard and kids were to be seen and not to be heard. Correct me if I am wrong. But then there were others, probably from another period of time, which looked happier ;)
There was a whole collection of dolls belonging to Jane Addams, who was the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. And a room filled with old dolls. Here are also German dolls, Chinese dolls and toys from all parts of the world. And a large selection of dolls´ houses. I guess this part of the museum is more appealing to women and girls.
There are other rooms with boys´ toys with toy weapons, electric trains, an old Rocking Horse from 1840, action men, including the Swiss Action Man dating back to 1921. And a large selection of Teddy Bears, the oldest one from 1905.
At the museum are board games, f.ex. Snakes and Ladders, which I used to play a lot as a kid, toy theatres. American toys are in one room, money boxes, Japanese acrobats dating back to 1867. Toys from Central and South America are here as well. Here are Toy Theatres from all over the world, but Pollock was the best known supplier of Toy Theatres.
At the museum one can find toys from India, Pakistan, Russia, China, Africa and from all over Europe etc.
I recommend this museum, it is a true gem and to us who are grown-up there are several toys which bring back some good memories. But of course there are toys here which date way back as well. But I would not want to visit the museum if it were crowded as there are so many small toys and the staircase is so narrow, that only a handful of people can visit at the same time.
Opening hours: Monday - Saturday from 10:00-17:00.
Admission price: GBP 6.
There is a gallery in a church in London, called the Crypt Gallery. I had walked by a couple of times and adored the big statues above the crypt and was intrigued. The gallery is in St. Pancras Church by Euston and these huge statues adorn the church and make it stand out. I had visited the church a couple of times, but the Crypt Gallery was always closed. So I found out when the next exhibition would take place and it was only for 5 days in March. One can read up on their homepage when the Crypt Gallery is open.
Visiting the Crypt Gallery was amazing, I am truly amazed at how some of the crypts in London churches are used for exhibitions etc. Walking there in the crypt looking at various - very good - works of art, gave me a surreal feeling. Especially when visiting one room, which was red, everything in it was red and one was offered to take off one´s shoes and step in and sit down on the red pillows and read up on the purpose of the room. The exhibition was in aid of the international women´s day (March 8th), so the artwork was on women and how they are perceived and their role.
The Crypt has been used as a gallery space since 2002. But the Crypt was taken in use for coffins in 1822 and was used until 1854. There are 557 people buried here, making it so strange being able to walk around here looking at work of art.
The Crypt was used as an air-raid shelter in both WW I and WW II. This area was heavily bombed as very close by are Euston station, St. Pancras and King´s Cross stations. On the website of the Crypt Gallery one can read up on the life of a young girl, Georgina, whose mother ran a canteen in the crypt.
I visited Leighton House with a friend of mine, who had heard that it was amazing. I didn´t look it up on the Internet, I wanted to go there without knowing anything about it and experience the "wow" factor. When we got to the house we were kind of surprised. This cannot be it... As from the outside it looks like a normal house, but stepping inside takes one to another world. It certainly did have the "wow" factor.
Frederic, Lord Leighton, Baron of Stretton (1830-1896) was one of the most famous British artists of his time and Leighton House is the best example of a 19th century home of an artist, which is open to the public in the UK. It is truly amazing. Leighton constructed it from 1864 and added to it until he died in 1896. Leighton´s grandfather was the physician to the Russian Royal Family in St. Petersburg and he was supported by his family.
Leighton belonged to the Aesthetic Movement - they wanted to counteract the Victorian Britain and wanted beauty in the world and blended art work from different cultures - this can be seen in Leighton House. So many beautiful artefacts from different cultures.
The most stunning hall in the house is the Arab Hall which was added to the house in 1877. It is truly amazing. Leighton travelled to the Middle East and brought home with him a large collection of Middle Eastern art and the 16th and 17th century tiles for the hall. The hall contains hundreds of beautiful tiles from Damascus and Syria. There are verses from the Koran on the walls. I was thinking I had to learn Arabic as I wanted to know what it meant. I found out that it was a verse about the creation of the world.
On the second floor is Leighton´s big studio, where he painted many of his beautiful paintings. And his bedroom, which came as a surprise to me, compared to the grandeur of the house, the bedroom is minimalistic to say the least. On the second floor is also the Silk Room with an Egyptian latticework window, overlooking the Arab Hall. Exquisite - and woke up in me a longing to visit the Middle East and Egypt.
The first buyer of Leighton´s major painting was Queen Victoria in 1855. She visited Leighton house in 1869. In 1878 Leighton became the President of the Royal Academy of Arts. He had no family of his own and his home became a museum after his death. He is the only artist to become ennobled and was buried in St. Paul´s Cathedral.
Leighton House was damaged by a bomb in WW2 and reconstructed.
Opening hours: Every day except Tuesday from 10:00-17:30.
Admission: GBP 5.
No photos are allowed. I saw no sign so I took photos. I so hate the reaction of the curator. He came towards me from another room telling me off. I cannot even take this seriously anymore, what is the big deal with this? I saw people taking photos with their iPhone. So I asked when I left where it says that no photos are allowed. The man in the reception pointed me to a sentence behind the "cloakroom", covered up by overcoats. And that there was a sentence in small letters (his words) by the entrance, where it says that no photos are allowed without the permission of the curators. I doubt that anybody sees this sentence.
After passing the Palace we headed towards Whitehall, on the way we stopped at the Guards Museum at Wellington Barracks on Birdcage Walk.
Wellington Barracks is the home of the five regiments of Foot Guards.
The museum first opened in 1988 and has now announced a partnership with the Royal Armories which can only make it even better!
There is a fantastic shop where you can buy all kinds of souvenirs to do with The Foot Guards from toy soldiers to Drum Ice Buckets all with the individual Guards regiment badges or the Divisional badge.
The shop is open seven days a week 10.00am to 4.00pm
10:00am to 4:00pm Seven days a week
Adults - £5.00
Senior Citizens 65 and over, Ex-military and Students - £2.50
Serving Military Personnel - £1.00
Children (16 years of age and under) - FREE OF CHARGE
The Wallace Collection was recommended to me by an Australian VT-member, when we met up in a bar for a London-Calling meeting. From what she told me it sounded amazing. The day after I went to visit the gallery, and was not disappointed.
The Wallace Collection is now a national museum at Hertford house, consisting of 29 galleries, each one of them containing art treasures. It was a private collection of the 3rd and 4th Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace, who was the son of the 4th Marquess. They collected exquisite art work in the 18th and 19th century. But the previous 2 Marquesses also contributed to the collection. Lady Wallace donated the collection to the British nation in 1897. It is the finest art collection assembled by one family.
This is a fascinating collection, unbelievable how much this family collected, what passion for the collection. I even found an Icelandic drinking horn, made from bull horn, from ca 1650 at the Wallace Collection. Such varied is their colleciton.
But the main collection consists of French 18th century paintings, porcelain, furniture and all kinds of art work. In one gallery one can see a large collection of beautiful miniatures and gold boxes. In another paintings of the Old Masters, etc, etc - truly amazing. And the rooms at the gallery are a work of art, where ever I looked it was a feast for the eyes.
It is a pity that VT only allows for 5 photos with a tip, as I had difficulties selecting photos, some photos of remarkable art I had to leave behind, as it were.
Opening hours: 10:00-17:00.
Photos without flash are allowed.
On my walks in London I came across the Hellenic Centre in Marylebone. There was an exhibition and free entrance so I popped in.
The Hellenic Centre is a charitable and cultural organization, aiming at awareness of the Hellenic culture in UK. So for anyone interested in the Greek and Cybriot culture the Hellenic Centre is the place to visit.
There are exhibitions at the Hellenic Centre, social events, Greek language courses, concerts, conferences and lectures.
When I visited there was a very informative photo exhibition in the Great Hall on Smyrna and the desctruction of a cosmopolitan City 1900-1922. I was alone at the gallery and absorbed the history of Smyrna and its culture and destruction in 1922. The photos were amazing and told the story so vividly that I was in tears over the fate of Smyrna and the Greek and Armenian inhabitants. These photos were unknown and came from American and European archives and private collections.
No photos were allowed.
This was a temporary exhibition, but there is so much more that the Hellenic Centre has to offer and I will keep an eye out for upcoming events and exhibitions. Most of their exhibitions, concerts and lectures are free of charge.
The Courtauld Gallery is one of the many smaller galleries at Somerset House. On their website they refer to it as one of the finest small museums in the world.
The world famous collection ranges from the early Renaissance to the 20th century and gallery is best known for its Impressionist and Post Impressionist paintings. Here are paintings by some of the great masters, Picasso, Vincent Van Gough, Monet, Manet, Matisse, Degas, Gauguin, Cézanne and more.
Here one can see the world famous painting "A Self-Portrait with a Bandaged Ear" by Vincent Van Gough. And "A Bar at the Folies-Bergére" by Manet.
There are so many wonderful paintings here that I was taken aback. And the gallery itself is very impressive, several halls with ceilings that are beautiful artwork in themselves. The staircase is also a work of art.
On the ground floor is a small exhibition of Medieval and Renaissance paintings with the jewel in the crown being the Lamentation Triptych by the Master of Flemalle.
Opening hours: Daily from 10:00-18:00.
Admission: GBP 6. Mondays half price.
Photos allowed without flash.