Other Museums and Galleries, London

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  • Wellcome Collection - Puruvian Mummy
    Wellcome Collection - Puruvian Mummy
    by wabat
  • Wellcome Collection - King George III's Hair
    Wellcome Collection - King George III's...
    by wabat
  • Wellcome Collection-Male anti-masturbation devices
    Wellcome Collection-Male...
    by wabat
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    Design Museum

    by toonsarah Updated Apr 14, 2014

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    Staircase, Design Museum

    Update April 2014: information updated including ticket prices, plans for the future of the museum

    Although it is slightly off the beaten track, this museum is well worth a visit for anyone interested in modern design, and its great setting on the river adds to its appeal. There are no permanent exhibits; instead the museum has a regularly changing programme of special exhibitions (usually three at a time), talks, films and other events. Check the website to see what is on at any time.

    The museum is open daily 10.00 AM - 5.45 PM (last admission 5.15 PM). Unlike many of London’s museums, there is an admission charge: £12.40 for adults, £9.30 students, £6.20 Children 6-15 inclusive. Children under 6 get in free (but are likely to be bored by the exhibits).

    There is a small café and a shop selling a good range of books on design as well as some examples of well-designed items such as stationery. Entry to the café and shop is free, so you can visit these even if you don’t want to go to an exhibition.

    In late 2015 the Design Museum will move to a new home in Kensington in the building that formerly housed the Commonwealth Institute.

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    The Courtauld Gallery Somerset House.

    by breughel Updated Apr 9, 2014

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    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 (2014) 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.

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    NATIONAL ARMY MUSEUM.

    by breughel Updated Apr 9, 2014

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    National Army Museum.

    This museum was founded in 1960 to "explain the history of the Army … to reconnect the Army with society". It seemed to me, on this first visit, that the National Army Museum was complementary of the better known Imperial War Museum but also in competition with this last one for the 20th century period.

    Original, and instructive for the foreign visitor, are the departments concerning:
    1° "The making of Britain 1066 -1783" with the invasions, contest for the crown, civil war and the role of the Army in creating the state of Great-Britain.
    2° "Changing the World 1784 - 1904" with the role of the Army in the founding of the British Empire.
    This is to be found on lower ground, ground and first floors. The displays are using dioramas, reconstitutions of good quality which are clearly aimed to a public of families with children and schools. There is even a "kids' zone" for "learning through play".

    The two other departments "World Wars 1905 - 1947" and "Fighting for Peace" are well illustrated but for this part of British military history there is the competition of the Imperial War Museum.
    There are each year special exhibitions.

    Opening hours:
    Every Day 10.00am-5.30pm
    Except 24 - 26 December, 1 January, Good Friday, early May bank holiday.

    Free Admission

    No photos allowed. Why? Photos are allowed at the Imperial War Museum!

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    The British Library

    by toonsarah Updated Mar 29, 2014

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    Courtyard of the British Library
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    March 2014 update: small changes and additions to text

    This is one of my favourite modern buildings in London and it's a shame that it's often missed by tourists - possibly because it's a little off the beaten track (near St Pancras Station in a fairly unattractive part of town) and possibly because they're unaware of its attractions.

    Firstly, there's this lovely courtyard, free and open to all, with lots of places to sit in the sun or shade, maybe with a book (this is a library after all!) and perhaps with a coffee from the little cafe. There are also a number of eye-catching sculptures such as the one in my 2nd photo and a lovely small bust of Anne Frank.

    Next, go inside to discover the treasures within. This is the main legal deposit library for the nation and it therefore holds a copy of every book ever published here - mind-boggling!! Altogether there are about 150 million items, in most known languages. If you're a scholar or researcher you may want to apply for a reader's ticket to give you access to all that wealth, but most casual visitors will want to see the big stars of the collection. Have a look at the King's Library, a glass-enclosed column of beautifully bound books that runs the height of the building at its core. Visit the Treasures Gallery to see some of the world's most exciting and significant books, such as Magna Carta, the Gutenberg Bible and Shakespeare's First Folio. There's also a gallery for changing exhibitions which are usually free.

    The Library also has a good book and gifts shop, a cafe and restaurant, and has free wifi both inside and in the courtyard. If, like many visitors to London, you are staying near here it is a good place to come to grab a coffee while checking your emails and VT notices. And if you can't get here, you can explore the pages of some of its most wonderful books through the Turning the Pages website - a fabulous use of technology that allows you to feel as if you really are turning the pages of these priceless volumes.

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    The Wellcome Collection

    by wabat Written Feb 18, 2014

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    The Wellcome Collection
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    The Wellcome Collection (named after founder Sir Henry Wellcome (1853-1936) an American businessman, collector and philanthropist who ended up a British knight) describes itself as “a free visitor destination for the incurably curious” and “explores the connections between medicine, life and art in the past, present and future”. I like to think of myself as incurably curious and I think “a destination for the incurably curious” sums the place up splendidly.

    It certainly helps to be curious about things medical – though that term is used fairly loosely and you will find amongst the displays here ivory walking sticks belonging to Charles Darwin, Napoleon’s Bonaparte’s gold (coloured) toothbrush, 18th -19th century ivory Chinese diagnostic dolls, a collection of Japanese sexual aids and the ultimate in Victorian curatives for the most hideous disease of the day, nickel-plated steel male anti-masturbation devices – ouch! (picture two).

    Perhaps slightly more medically related is a lock of hair (picture three) purporting to be that of King George III (1760-1820). Royal biological material such as this is extremely rare and recent tests on this hair have found it to contain an unexpectedly high concentration of arsenic which may explain the so-called “madness” of George III if indeed the hair belongs to George III.

    Of course, no collection of curiosities would be complete without shrunken heads and mummified bodies. The Wellcome Collection does not disappoint in this regard. Picture four is a mummified male body originally buried in the fetal position from Peru and dated relatively recently when one thinks of mummies (c1200-1400).

    While I have to say I am more intrigued by these older curiosities/exhibits, the majority of which, which would have been collected by Henry Wellcome himself – and thus concentrated on this part of the collection - the collection is right up there with modern medical exhibits including some rather controversial items such as a plastinated human body slice – picture five - (on loan from the Institute of Plastination in Heidelberg). Readers may more readily identify with the Institute though the inventor of plastination, Gunther von Hagens and his Body Worlds exhibitions or TV shows.

    With about a million items to chose from, visiting exhibitions and what appears to be a policy of not over (read sparsely) filling limited exhibition space what’s on display here changes regularly. Even what are classified as permanent collections seem to be, at most, semi-permanent.

    The Wellcome Collection is managed and I imagine almost exclusively financed by the Wellcome Trust which was established under Henry Wellcome’s will in 1936 and is now the world's largest independent charitable foundation funding research into human and animal health.

    While most people, including me, come here for the medical exhibit component of the Wellcome Collection, the Trust also manages, as part of the Wellcome Collection, the Wellcome Library, a collection of over 2 million items making it one of the world's greatest collections, for the study of the history and progress of medicine.

    On my first visit I found it a rather odd place and could not quite work it out – that is apart from one collection the “Medicine Man” which I thoroughly enjoyed. “Medicine Man” was, as I understood it, part of the permanent collection though I see right now Feb 2014 it is closed to reopen in Spring 2014 i.e. very soon.

    To be fair, I only spent a couple of hours here and got so caught up in the "Medicine Man" collection that I had insufficient time to do justice to, or fully appreciate, the remainder of the collection. I will certainly be returning and I absolutely recommend a visit for “the incurably curious” among my readers.

    Lack of time also precluded me from visiting what looked like a well stocked bookshop and the café – something else to do next visit.

    Opening hours - Galleries

    Mon – Closed
    Tue , Wed, Fri, Sat 10am – 6pm
    Thur - 10am – 10pm
    Sun - 11am – 6pm

    Entrance Fee: Free

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    The Estorick Collection

    by SallyM Updated Feb 17, 2014
    The Estorick Collection

    The Estorick Collection is a small gallery based on the art collection of Eric Estorick (1913-1993). The core collection is of Futurist art, including works by Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carra, Luigi Russolo and Gino Severini. There are also works by Giogio de Chirico, Amedeo Modigliani and Giorgio Morandi.

    There are regular special exhibitions - when I visited, there was an exhibition of sculpture by De Chirico.

    Opening Hours: Wednesday to Saturday 11.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. Sunday 12.00 p.m. to 5.00 p.m.

    Admission £5.00 (concessions £3.50)

    The café offers a range of salads and some pasta dishes. We visited on a Sunday when the one member of staff on duty was rather under pressure, but our dish of gnocchi was worth the wait (and very reasonably-priced).

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    The Hunterian Museum

    by wabat Updated Feb 11, 2014

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    Hunterian Museum - Royal College of Surgeons
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    I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to this rather unorthodox museum and highly recommend a visit if interested in the subject matter. While it is not without its controversy the museum is not in the slightest macabre, disrespectful, commercialised, freakish, sensationalist or tacky (adjectives often used in referring to it).

    The Hunterian Museum is an anatomy and surgery museum so it should come as no surprise that it is full of anatomical exhibits and pathology specimens (human and non human). So, yes there are human fetuses (multiple and at all stages of development); human genitalia; mutilated, diseased and deformed body parts; medical oddities; skeletons; surgical instruments which today one would imagine to be more at home in a torture chamber; etc. Exhibits are typically in formaldehyde filled glass jars for preservation purposes. This is what you except to see in a museum of this nature and if that is not your thing please do not visit. Contrary to most peoples expectations, the majority of anatomical exhibits in the museum are non-human. Also in the museum you will find an interesting art gallery and Winston Churchill´s false teeth!

    The major part of the anatomical collection was collected and put together in the 1700s by eminent surgeon John Hunter (1728-1793) who was, in 1776, appointed as surgeon to King George III and, in March 1790, was made British Surgeon General by the then Prime Minister, William Pitt.

    While some of Hunter’s collection techniques have been questioned he was no amateur or freak. Hunter was a dedicated researcher, scientist and anatomist and unquestionably contributed much to the advancement of medicine and medical training.Hunter is, today, remembered as a founder of `scientific surgery'.

    Did he acquire specimens in a manner that would not be acceptable to-day? Without doubt he did, but this was the way of the 1700s. People didn't carry organ donation cards. It was common practice that the bodies of executed criminals were handed over for medical purposes and also not uncommon that bodies were purchased from sources unknown which would have included those from grave snatchers or worse, on a no questions asked basis.

    The most controversial exhibit in the museum is the skeleton of Irish giant, Charles Byrne. I have prepared a separate tip on Byrne, The Irish Giant at the Hunterian Museum, and another one based on the skeleton of Jonathan Wild – Thief Taker General of Great Britain and Ireland – also on display in the museum.

    In 1799 the government purchased Hunter’s collection and presented it to the Royal College of Surgeons which has added to it and maintained it ever since – though a significant portion of the collection was lost in a WWII bombing. The display is professionally and clinically organized in a matter of fact manner with no attempt whatsoever to sensationalise, shock or titillate the visitor – they leave that to the London Dungeon and the like!

    While the museum does, undoubtedly, attract a certain clientele seeking some form of titillation this type of person will quickly become bored with the sobriety and matter of factness of the museum. That said, the exhibits are well explained and context is provided. While the museum is free to visit I do thoroughly recommend you pick-up an audio guide from the reception – well worth the small cost. There is a free curator led, guided tour every Wednesday at 1pm and outside this, private tours can be arranged but they are rather expensive.

    Presumably in the interests of not sensationalizing the museum, it enforces a strict no photography policy. Sketches are permitted.

    Opening Hours

    Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm.

    Closed Good Friday, Easter Saturday and from Christmas Eve to New Years Day inclusive, reopening on the first working day.

    Admission

    Free - though I do recommend optional audio guide for a small cost.

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    Thief Taker General - Hunterian Museum

    by wabat Updated Feb 11, 2014

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    Wild - Ticket to his Execution
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    As you enter the Hunterian Museum, in a niche just past the reception desk, you will be confronted with the skeleton of Jonathan Wild one of London’s most notorious criminals.

    Wild, hailing from Wolverhampton arrived in London in 1708 and soon (1710) landed himself in jail for a debt offense. While in prison Wild really began his short life of crime and befriended both other petty criminals and his warders who (the warders that is!) awarded him with "the liberty of the gate", meaning that he was allowed out at night to aid in the arrest of thieves. Off course this award was of mutual benefit to warders and Wild.

    On release in 1712, and using contacts made in prison, Wild became a pimp and a 'collector" of stolen goods – stolen by himself and his accomplices (he ran gangs of thieves) - which he would then return to their owners for a fee or offered rewards. Wild never sold stolen goods as there were high penalties for this. He was very happy with the rewards available for "recovering" stolen goods and returning them to their owners.

    He was also not averse to turning in his fellow criminals, especially those who challenged his right to retain the majority of the rewards/fees for the recovery and return of stolen goods to their rightful owners. Turning in criminals was a highly profitable business - he would receive a reward from corrupt City officials he had befriended. Indeed, some of those he turned in, he later bribed other officials to have them released again so they could continue working for him. Presumably the bribe for getting them out was less than the £40 reward for turning them in!

    Initially this role of turning in criminals and thieves – as thief-taker – won him much public acclaim in a then crime ridden London with a totally ineffective police force. This public affection helped Wild evade prosecution himself and earned him the dubious honour of being referred to as “Thief Taker General of Britain and Ireland” – though I think that title was self proclaimed. In 1720, Wild's fame was such that the Privy Council consulted with him on methods of controlling crime. Wild’s recommendation was that rewards for evidence against thieves be raised and indeed the £40 reward for capturing a thief was increased to £140!

    His good fortune ran out in 1724 when he turned informer on Jack Sheppard and Joseph “Blueskin” Blake, two of the City’s most famous criminals. Both were hanged and Wild became a marked man, for his duplicity, among the criminal fraternity. The following year he was arrested and tried at the Old Bailey for being 'a receiver and a confederate of thieves'; for having ‘form'd a kind of Corporation of Thieves’; and for having ‘often sold human blood, by procuring false Evidence’. He was sentenced to hang at Tyburn prison near the current day Marble Arch.

    En route to Tyburn (when the entourage was not stopped in a pub to let Wild have a drink – a common and accepted practice at the time for those en route to the gallows) he was pelted with stones, mud, faeces and decomposing cat and dog corpses by an angry crowd which was only placated when the Sheriff promised that his body would be given to the Surgeons (the Company of Barber Surgeons) for dissection.

    Wild's hanging on 24 May 1725 was a festive affair attracting a massive crowd. Tickets were sold in advance for the best vantage points (see my main picture). Interestingly the ticket appeals “To all the thieves, whores, pick-pockets, family fellons &c in Great Britain and Ireland” to attend Wild’s execution – so really an invite to all his friends!

    The Sheriff did not keep his word and Wild was buried in St Pancras’ church yard but within days the grave was empty. Newspapers reported that un-named surgeons had removed his skeleton and discarded the flesh and skin which was later found in the Thames and identified as Wild's by its hairy chest!

    Nothing more was heard of Wild’s skeleton until 1797 when it was identified as in the possession of a surgeon called Peter Rambin who later passed it to Frederick Fowler who presented it to the Royal College of Surgeons in 1847 which now has it on display in the Hunterian Museum.

    Wild’s fate is typical of hundreds of executed criminals whose bodies were taken from Tyburn to be dissected by the surgeons.

    While there are many pictures of Wild's skeleton online, I complied with the no photography requirements of the Hunterian Museum and do not have an image.

    Fuller details on the Hunterian Museum are included in my main and general tip on the Museum - The Hunterian Museum. I highly recommend a visit.

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    The Irish Giant at the Hunterian Museum

    by wabat Written Feb 9, 2014

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    The Irish Giant - George Byrne

    Freak shows of any variety were a mainstay in the entertainment of London society in Georgian times (1700s), the odder and more extreme the better.

    In 1781 George Byrne left his home in Northern Ireland to join ‘the circus’.

    Byrne – or as he is better known, The Irish Giant, claimed to be somewhere between 8ft 2inches and 8ft 4inches (2.48-2.54m ) though skeletal evidence suggests he was around 7ft 7inches (2.31 metres). Interestingly, legend tells us, his parents, of more modest stature, made love high up in a haystack and it was thus George’s lofty conception that caused him to be so tall.

    On arrival in London, intent on making a fortune, he joined Cox’s Museum. James Cox, in addition to being a jeweler and goldsmith, ran a small museum of curiosities which in addition to Byrne included Oliver Cromwell's head.

    The Irish Giant was an instant success, even with the king and queen. As 1782 newspaper reported:

    "However striking a curiosity may be, there is generally some difficulty in engaging the attention of the public; but even this was not the case with the modern living Colossus, or wonderful Irish Giant ……….. descriptions must fall infinitely short of giving that satisfaction which may be obtained on a judicious inspection".

    Not everyone was as impressed though and Sylas Neville, a prominent physician at the time commented thus:

    “Tall men walk considerably beneath his arm, but he stoops, is not well shaped, his flesh is loose, and his appearance far from wholesome. His voice sounds like thunder, and he is an ill-bred beast, though very young – only in his 22nd year.”

    Neville and his ilk were in a small minority and success continued for Byrne who commanded a viewing fee of 2/6d per person – an amazing amount for 1782. Unsurprisingly it was not long until Byrne had competition, many from Ireland, including some claiming to be lineal descendants of legendary Irish monarch, Brian Boru.

    Unable to handle his success and having been robbed of GBP700 (his total earnings since arriving in London), Byrne took to the drink and died in 1783, aged 22.

    Enter John Hunter.

    Hunter was an esteemed surgeon and by the time of Byrne's death already surgeon to King George III. In 1790 he was appointed British Surgeon General by the then Prime Minister, William Pitt. More relevant to Byrne’s case was that Hunter was an avid collector of anatomical specimens and not averse to having curiosities (scientific oddities) in his own collection. Hunter resolved to have the Irish Giant in his collection. Whether Hunter’s desire to secure Byrne’s remains was driven purely by his scientific interests or (even in part) a desire to have Byrne merely for his curiosity value will, I imagine, never be known.

    It is alleged (there is no first hand evidence) that Byrne’s deathbed wish was that he be buried at sea in a lead coffin, specifically to avoid his body falling into Hunter’s hands.

    Certainly, Hunter was not the only surgeon after Bryne’s cadaver. As one newspaper reported:

    “The whole tribe of surgeons put in a claim for the poor departed Irish Giant, and surrounded his house just as Greenland harpooners would an enormous whale. One of them has gone so far as to have a niche made for himself in the giant's coffin, in order to his being ready at hand, on the "witching time of night, when church-yards yawn"".

    In any event Hunter secured the Irish Giant’s cadaver and quickly boiled it down to produce a skeleton. It is not known for sure how Hunter got the cadaver but it is generally thought that he bribed a member of the funeral party to replace the body with stones and give him the body very shortly after death and certainly before the casket “full of stones” was put on display prior to it being buried at sea.

    Hunter did produce a scientific description of the anatomy and skeleton and a significant amount of scientific analysis has been carried out on Bryne’s skeleton since. In 1787 the skeleton was put on display and so it remains, now in the Hunterian Museum, in the Royal College of Surgeons in London where you can see it today.

    As I have indicated in my separate review of the Hunterian Museum, Byrne’s skeleton is the most controversial item on display and there are regular calls for it to be buried at sea in accordance with the supposed wishes of Byrne.

    It is, certainly today, pretty much universally accepted that museums should not display human remains against the wishes of individuals, their families and, where relevant, local communities.
    In accordance with this policy skeletal displays of the 'Hottentot Venus' (Saartjie Baartman) and Truganini, the last Tasmanian Aborigine were accepted by as being inappropriate and taken down in the 1970s by the Muséum d'histoire naturelle d’Angers, France and the Royal Society of Tasmania, Australia respectively. Turganimi’s body was cremated and her ashes scatted in accordance with her wishes in 1976 and Baartman was laid to rest in 2002 in the Gamtoos Valley of South Africa.

    In 2002, some of Turganimi’s hair and skin were found in the collection of the Royal College of Surgeons and returned to Tasmania for burial.

    The Royal College of Surgeon’s (aka the Hunterian Museum) are not of the view that Byrne’s wishes have been disrespected and as such his skeleton remains on display.

    "At the present time, the museum's Trustees consider that the educational and research benefits merit retaining the remains.” – museum director.

    I am sure my reader(s) with draw their own conclusion on Byrne and on the return of museum exhibits to their “rightful” owners more generally - a topic which most travellers must ponder on a regular basis.

    While there are many pictures of The Irish Giant's skeleton online, I complied with the no photography requirements of the Hunterian Museum and instead offer you a contemporary cartoon of Byrne by Thomas Rowlandson, an artist and caricaturist of the day.

    Fuller details on the Hunterian Museum are included in my main and general tip on the Museum - The Hunterian Museum. I highly recommend a visit.

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    The Sherlock Holmes Museum

    by SallyM Updated Jan 5, 2014
    The Gift Shop - buy your ticket here
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    This 'museum' is a celebration of the world's most famous consulting detective. Just to be clear: it is not where Sherlock Holmes actually lived because a) he is a fictional character, and b) the real 221b Baker Street would have been slightly further down the road. Neither is it the home of Holmes' creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

    What it is is a house furnished in appropriate period style to represent the lodgings of Holmes and Watson. It was registered as a lodging house from 1860-1934, so is an accurate reflection of the type of house where Holmes would have lodged.

    Inside are displays representing his most famous cases, as well as waxwork models of some of the characters from the books. You can also come face to face with the Hound of the Baskervilles, though to me he looked rather more like Scooby Doo.

    There are also some (genuine) letters that have been sent to Sherlock Holmes over the years. The Abbey National Building Society, whose head office used to occupy the part of Baker Street that would have included 221b, used to employ someone to deal with Holmes' correspondence.

    Photography is allowed, or rather encouraged (deer-stalkers are supplied). For Holmes fans, it is well worth a visit. If you are not particularly interested in, or knowledgeable about, Sherlock Holmes, it is perhaps not worth the £6 admission fee, though in my opinion it is far better value than nearby Madam Tussauds.

    Note that the stairs are narrow and the number of visitors can enter at any one time is therefore limited, so there may be a queue for admission.

    The Museum is open daily 9.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. Visitors should purchase their admission tickets in the gift shop next door before joining the entry queue.

    Note for fans of the BBC 'Sherlock' series starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman - the exterior shots of 221b are not filmed in Baker Street, but in North Gower Street, about 25 minutes' walk away towards Euston Station. You can have a 'Sherlock' wrap for lunch in the real Speedy's Cafe on the ground floor.

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    GUARDS MUSEUM.

    by breughel Updated Oct 26, 2013

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    Welsh Guards at Trooping the Colour.
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    Guards Museum.
    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

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    Museum of London Docklands.

    by Regina1965 Updated Jun 27, 2013

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    Museum of London Docklands.
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    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.

    Admission: free.

    Photos are allowed without flash.

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    William Morris Society

    by Britannia2 Written Jun 10, 2013
    William Morris Society
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    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 [1871] and The Princess and the Goblin [1873] 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.

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits

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    Hogarths House, Chiswick

    by Britannia2 Updated May 27, 2013

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    Hogarths House
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    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.

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Museum Visits
    • Historical Travel

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    The Museum at the Royal Academy of Music.

    by Regina1965 Updated Apr 2, 2013

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    Stradivari violin from ca 1734 (Habenack).
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    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.
    Admission: free

    Photos without flash are permitted. One has to ask for permission before taking photos though as there are manuscripts with copyright.

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