London is a place full of history and almost every piece has a museum to its name somewhere in the capital. We wanted to gather together some of the stranger and lesser known museums so that you could give yourself a more alternative historical tour.
The Anaesthesia Museum, 21 Portland Place, Marylebone, London, W1B 1PY
If you have any interest in medical things then head on down to The Anaesthesia Museum in Marylebone. An unusual museum, The Anaesthesia Museum houses over 2000 objects relating to the story of anaesthesia. Collections date from 1774 and include everything you could want to see regarding putting people to sleep and pain relief from Morton’s demonstration of ether inhalation in 1846 to modern anaesthetic machines and appliances still in use today.
Anaesthesia Fact : When Dr. Horace Wells first publicly demonstrated the use of Nitrous Oxide his patient screamed in pain as his tooth was being pulled out, Wells fled the theatre whilst being booed.
Pollocks Toy Museum, 1 Scala Street, London W1T 2HL
Pollocks Toy Museum was based on Benjamin Pollock, the last of the Victorian Toy Theatre printers. Marguerite Fawdry set the museum up and it has been in its present location now since 1969. Marguerite bought all the remaining stock from Benjamin Pollock Ltd., which began the museum’s collection after trying to buy one small item for her son’s toy theatre. Now Pollocks Toy Museum has toys from all of the world and from all different periods in time including of course, toy theatres as well as teddy bears, wax and china dolls, board games, optical toys, folk toys, nursery furniture, mechanical toys and doll’s houses.
Toy Fact : The word “toy” comes from an Old English word meaning “tool”
Hunterian Museum, Royal College of Surgeons, 35-43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3PE
Based in the Royal College of Surgeons the Hunterian museum is one of the oldest collections of anatomical, pathological and zoological specimens in the UK so in short if you like the Natural History Museum you’ll like this. The collection was originally put together by John Hunter, surgeon and anatomist (1728-1793) and includes 3,500 anatomical and pathological preparations, fossils, paintings and drawings and also includes specimens donated by Edward Jenner and Sir Joseph Banks.
Body Fact : The human heart creates enough pressure to squirt blood 30 feet.
Centre For The Magic Arts, 12 Stephenson Way, Camden, NW1 2HD
Set in the Magic Circle Headquarters the Centre For The magic Arts Museum in a unique living museum of magic and magic arts. Guides take you around exhibits including the actual handcuffs used by Harry Houdini and the props used by HRH Prince Charles when he took his examination to become a member of The Inner Magic Circle. On the tour you are told a couple of little trick secrets (we say little) including how the great illusionist, Chung Ling Soo was shot dead during a performance an 1918. There are also regular events here.
Magic Fact : The magician’s stock word “hocus pocus” is taken from the name of a mythological sorcerer, Ochus Bochus, who appears in Norse folktales and Legends.
The Old Operating Theatre, 9A St Thomas’ Street, London, SE1 9RY
The Old Operating Theatre is the only 19th Century operating theatre in England and luckily for you, it’s in London at the top of an old church. Exhibits cover the history of surgery and herbal medicine. There are demonstrations of different surgical techniques from the past as well as examples of the hospitals apothecary.
Operating Fact : In Europe, barber surgeons were common but not always very successful. Below is a picture advertising what wounds barber surgeons could deal with.
Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising, 2 Colville Mews, Lonsdale Rd, London, W11 2AR
The Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising is a 120-year history of consumerism, culture, design, domestic life, fashion, folly and fate. The exhibition will take you right back to your childhood and beyond with the many well recognised brand and packaging examples on show. The exhibit is put together in a cluttered but brilliant master minded way allowing you to look at collections for ages noticing more and more all the time. Advertising is also on display in this museum that largely is thanks to Ioana and Peter Opie who one day in 1963 when he was 16-year-old declared he would never throw anything away again starting with his Munchies wrapper (today we call this hoarding).
Advertising Fact : In most television adverts advertising milk, a mixture of white paint and a little thinner is used in place of the milk.
Dennis Servers House, 18 Folgate Street, London, E1 6BX
Dennis Server is a painter who used visitors imaginations to create his work. The family that once lived in this house is a made up one from the 18th centuary. You are able to wonder around this house and imagine what life must have been like for the family that once lived there (or didn’t). Beds are unmade, food about to be eaten is wafted under your nose and the the house is just as it would have been left, with fires on and dim candle light in the rooms all those years ago.
18th Century Fact : It was more scandalous for a woman to show any part of her legs or ankles than to expose her breasts.
The Black Museum
Finally the Black Museum as it is known to those that have not been or The Crime Museum to those that have. This is a museum that sadly you cannot go to unless you are a member of the Armed Forces or the Police (or possibly a celebrity as that can open most doors) but it really does need to be in this list and who knows, maybe one day they will open it to the public.
The Black Museum houses all the evidence from the most gruesome London trails, Such as that of serial killer Dennis Nilsen, who boiled the flesh of his victims on his stove before poured their fat down his drains. His aluminium cooking pot is kept here.
There are numerous other ‘famous’ case’s evidence laid out here for Police training purposes and incase any case is re-opened. The evidence on show brings to light many a London myth also for example the museum holds the evidence that found out who the real Jack The Ripper was although the myth that no one knew who he was is still largely alive.