Tuesday, 11 September 2012 9:42 AM
London has many hidden little museums that celebrate the city’s vibrant patchwork of history and the living things that inhabit our world. Here is a snapshot of some of London’s best small museums:
The Museum of the Order of St John
This historic museum sits in the heart of old London in Farringdon; its gatehouse is a stunning piece of medieval architecture. The museum charts the history of the Order of St John from Jerusalem to their more modern incarnation – St John’s Ambulance. You can also visit the church, though most of it is not original as it was seriously damaged during the Second World War. The gatehouse itself also has a fascinating history: after the Order was dissolved by Henry VIII, St John’s Gate, as it is known, became a coffee house ran by the artist William Hogarth’s father. It then became a pub called Jerusalem Tavern and was frequented by writers including Charles Dickens. Afterwards, it became the offices of the Gentleman’s Magazine, where Dr Samuel Johnson worked in his youth.
Apsley House & Wellington Arch
Apsley House sits on the edge of Hyde Park and was the grand residence of the Duke of Wellington. It was formerly known as Number One London and the house has not changed much since the time of the Iron Duke. Highlights include the Portuguese service, awarded to Wellington after he defeated Napoleon, the Waterloo Gallery and Canova’s statue of a naked Napoleon as Mars the peacemaker.
The Horniman Museum in Forest Hill, south London houses an eclectic collection of everything, from African art to natural history and music. There is certainly plenty to see, including an aquarium, complete with a mini flooded rainforest and butterflies –bound to delight both kids and adults alike. Its 16 acres of gardens also have some of the best views in London as well as some interesting plants; make sure to check out the sound garden where there are giant musical instruments that you can play.
Linley Sambourne House
Linley Sambourne House was inhabited by the famous Punch cartoonist Edward Linley Sambourne, who lived there with his family from 1875. Today, the house is recognised as one of the best surviving examples of a late Victorian middle class home. It even has the furniture from its time, and almost all of original interior and decoration still survives. Highlights include: William Morris wallpapers, stained and coloured glass and a beautiful drawing room.
Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising
The Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising is a unique collection of branding and products spanning over 100 years. This is the history of consumer culture in one nicely packaged museum in the heart of Notting Hill. You can take a nostalgic journey of branding and products from the Victorian times to present day through the time tunnel. The collection was put together by consumer historian Robert Opie, who saw the need to record the products that are part of our culture. He started collecting packaging (starting with a pack of munchies) from the age of 16 and he is still collecting and recording our consumer habits to this day.
By Cat Hughes
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