London has lots of hidden gems (those places that are really special) for you to discover if only someone would tell you about them! Well, that's what I intend to do here with this list of London's Top 10 Hidden Gems.
You'll probably also enjoy London Off The Beaten Track
and the Tired of London, Tired of London
© Laura Porter
Dennis Severs' House is not a museum but a private home that opens to the public as a time capsule to London's past.
American Dennis Severs lived here, without electricity and other home comforts, while also creating a Huguenot silk weaver's home for Mr Isaac Jervis, his family, and their descendants. The Jervis family are imaginary but attention to detail here is incredible, although do not be mistaken in thinking that historical accuracy was the driving force behind this project.
© Bank of England
Can you lift a gold bar? You can try at the Bank of England Museum
! It weighs 13kg and you can put your hand into a hole in a cabinet and lift the bar. There's no chance of stealing it but it may be the only time you get to touch something so densely valuable.
This fascinating museum, opened in 1988, tells the story of the five Foot Guard Regiments of the Household Division. These are the Guards that protect the Queen and perform the Changing of the Guard ceremony daily outside Buckingham Palace.
You can dress up in a guards tunic and bearskin cap and have your photo taken as a souvenir. For a small fee they print the photo and give you a certificate to take home. The tunics have been altered to child sizes by a military tailor, who just happens to work at the museum, so are the real guards uniform. Where else can you do that?
The Gallery was established in 1885 to house and display paintings and sculpture belonging to the Corporation of London. The collection includes portraits from the 16th century to today, plus views of London form the 17th century. My personal favorites are La Ghirlandata
by Rossetti and The Music Lesson
Roman London's Amphitheatre was discovered in 1999 and is under the Guildhall Art Gallery. The amphitheatre was used for entertaining soldiers and the public with animal fighting and public execution of criminals, as well as religious activities.
© The Courtauld Gallery, London
The Courtauld Gallery
is displayed in Somerset House in London; a stunning 18th century Neoclassical palace. The Courtauld Gallery's art collection covers the 14th century up to today. The Courtauld is best known for its Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, including works by Monet, van Gogh, and Cezanne.
is a meditation and self-development center in Covent Garden, central London. After visiting the bookshop, try the free Quiet Room where you can relax and unwind. What an oasis of calm in such a busy city!
© Laura Porter
The Wallace Collection
is a national museum which displays the artworks collected in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the first four Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace, the son of the 4th Marquess. It was bequeathed to the British nation by Sir Richard's widow, Lady Wallace, in 1897. The paintings include Hals's The Laughing Cavalier and artworks by Titian, Rembrandt, and Velázquez, as well as medieval and Renaissance objects, including glass and bronzes, as well as an array of princely arms and armor in Britain, featuring both European and Oriental objects.
© Laura Porter
This museum is currently closed but I am remaining hopeful that it will reopen in 2010.
Prince Henry's Room in Fleet Street is one of the few houses in London which survived the Great Fire of London in 1666. The building was once a tavern (pub) and has some original oak panels and an ornate plaster ceiling. This room was equipped in 1975 by the Samuel Pepys Club with materials illustrating some features of the life and achievements of Pepys. Pepys never lived there as it was a tavern in his day.
© Laura Porter
has no students and does not teach courses but is an educational institution of higher learning that exists to provide free public lectures. The free public lectures have been running for over 400 years.
Entering the Grant Museum
is like walking into a laboratory with all the specimen jars, glass cabinets, and skeletons. But what's really great is that you're allowed to be there! It's not very big so allow just an hour for a visit. You'll see some freaky stuff including a dugong skeleton (now extinct), an elephant bird egg (also now extinct), and a mammoth tusk which is at least 12,000 years old.