Here at Kippsy we like to give you the scoop on London’s less obvious pleasures, so you know when we get cultural for the day, we’re not just going to point you to the National History Museum and tell you to enjoy laughing at T-Rex’s funny little arms.
Instead, here’s our guide to London’s less well-known museums, for those days when you’re feeling just that bit more inquisitive about the world at large.
First, for those with a fondness for the magic of David Blaine and his ilk – why not check out The Magic Circle Museum (The Magic Circle, 12 Stephenson Way, Euston, London NW1 2HD)? This is the seat of the UK’s magic community, so if your kids (or you, for that matter) harbour dreams of disappearing like David Copperfield or cheating death like Houdini, this is the place you should come.
Speaking of Houdini, they even have the actual handcuffs the father of modern magic and illusion used in his seminal stunts on display here. Not bad for a secret society that’s been around since the early 1900s, eh?
Find out more: www.themagiccircle.co.uk/about-the-club/ourmuseum
On a similarly entertaining note, The Cartoon Museum (The Cartoon Museum, 35 Little Russell Street, London WC1A 2HH) is all about classic British toons, so if you grew up with the ‘Dennis The Menace’ or ‘The Bash Street Kids’, this could be the cultural treat you’re after.
But there are also more political and satirical cartoons on offer – these have long been a feature of British culture, for example in ‘Punch’ and ‘Private Eye’, so get a load of these if you like seeing leading figures of the day being mocked mercilessly. It keeps them honest, you know.
Find out more: www.cartoonmuseum.org
However, if you want something altogether gorier, then how about a trip to the Old Operating Theatre (9a St. Thomas’s St. London SE1 9RY) in London Bridge? Back in the 1800s, people had operations at their own risk – anaesthesia was in its infancy and the people doing them were at best unregulated and at worst downright dangerous. This was also the period that this venue was used as an operating theatre for St Thomas’. One for those with stronger stomachs.
Find out more: www.thegarret.org.uk/index.htm
Now as we’re talking about the 1800s and London, one name probably springs to mind for the literary-minded among you: Dickens. The London author who wrote about the city in a way that’s never really been bettered, you’ll find his work being celebrated at the Charles Dickens Museum (48 Doughty Street, London WC1 2LX).
This is actually the place that Dickens lived, which has now been transformed into a museum dedicated to his life and works. Expect floors filled with special material, including rare editions of his books and décor that’s similar to how it would have looked in the great man’s era. Proper London culture and one for the literary types amongst you.
Find out more: www.dickensmuseum.com
But when it comes to London’s heroes, there’s one that’s top of the list. It’s Churchill of course; legendary war leader, politician and national hero. Check out the Churchill Museum (Clive Steps, King Charles St, SW1) if you like your heroes determined, patriotic and, to be frank, soused in brandy.
This museum is part of the Cabinet War Rooms, which are all about re-creating the feel of the special Cabinet meetings they held in these secret rooms during WWII. You can hear extracts from the great man’s speeches and even see the original No.10 door Churchill walked through when he became PM.
Follow the special ‘Lifeline’ to see all the major events in Churchill’s life and marvel at a time when politics was about more than just the last lot of Focus Group results.