Best Secret Museums in London

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Fan Museum

Fan Museum

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Fan Museum
Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology
Grant Museum
Library and Museum of Freemasonry
Horniman Museum
Hunterian Museum
Geffrye Museum
Clockmakers' Museum
Garden Museum
Churchill War Rooms
 

 

London has more than 300 museums, including some of the most famous in the world such as the British Museum and Natural History Museum. But it also has hundreds of museums dedicated to the smallest and strangest themes and objects, including everything from beautifully decorated antique fans to jars of dead moles. Here we pick some of our favourites.

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Churchill War Rooms

Winston Churchill directed the troops during World War II from a small warren of underground rooms, which are now open to the public.

Clive Steps, King Charles Street, Westminster, London, SW1A 2AQ

Tube: Westminster Station , St James's Park Station

 
 

Winston Churchill directed the troops during World War II from a small warren of underground rooms, which are now open to the public. Visitors to the Churchill War Rooms can see the area just as it would have been during the cigar-smoking prime minister's time. Every piece of furniture and fitting was left in situ, down to the maps with coloured pins and the Transatlantic Phone Room, which had a direct hotline to FDR. The adjacent Churchill Museum, which opened in 2005, is a hi-tech showcase of his life. The centerpiece of the museum is an interactive timeline of Churchill's achievements. The collection includes his personal papers, infamous quotes, photos and even his clothes, and his eccentric habits are not overlooked. One cabinet showcases Churchill's oversized romper suit, which is as wide as it is high, along with letters to his staff demanding champagne at meals, despite the wartime shortages.

 
 
 

Fan Museum

This unique museum houses the world's finest collection of fans including exquisite examples from the 18th and 19th centuries.

12 Crooms Hill, London, SE10 8ER

Tube: New Cross Station (East London line closed. Bus service operates)

 
 

This unique museum houses the world's finest collection of fans including exquisite examples from the 18th and 19th centuries. The Fan Museum is housed in a beautifully restored 1721 building which provides a superb and elegant setting for the exhibits. Visitors can also explore the landscaped Japanese-style garden, a spectacular orangery with much-admired mural, and fascinating gift shop. In addition to the permanent collection, temporary exhibitions are arranged approximately every four months.

 
 
 

Garden Museum

The Garden Museum provides an insight into the history and development of gardens and gardening in the UK.

Lambeth Palace Road, South Bank, London, SE1 7LB

Tube: Lambeth North Station

 
 

Situated in the restored church of St Mary-at-Lambeth, adjacent to Lambeth Palace on the banks of the River Thames, the Garden Museum provides an insight into the history and development of gardens and gardening in the UK. The museum houses one of the finest public displays of garden tools and garden related artefacts and curiosities in the country, as well as an intriguing collection of garden related ephemera. In addition, a beautiful reproduction 17th century garden filled with flowers and shrubs of the period has been created in St Mary's graveyard around the tombs of famous 17th century plant hunters, the John Tradescants, (father and son), and Captain William Bligh of the 'Bounty'.

 
 
 

Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

The Petrie Museum, located within University Colleg London, is one of the largest and most fascinating collections of Egyptian archaeology anywhere in the world.

Malet Place, University College , Bloomsbury, London, WC1E 6BT

Tube: Euston Square Station , Warren Street Station, Euston Station, Goodge Street Station

 
 

The Petrie Museum, located within University College London, is one of the largest and most fascinating collections of Egyptian archaeology anywhere in the world. There are over 80,000 artefacts showing the development of Egyptian culture, technology and daily life from prehistoric to Roman times. The collection includes the world's earliest surviving garment, a dress of around 2800BC. You'll find the museum which is open to the public on the first floor of the DMS Watson library.

 
 
 

Grant Museum of Zoology

University College London's Grant Museum of Zoology houses around 62,000 specimens amounting to a diverse natural history collection covering the whole of the animal kingdom.

Rockefeller Building University College , 21 University Street, Bloomsbury, London, WC1E 6DE

Tube: Euston Square Station , Warren Street Station, Goodge Street Station, Euston Station

 
 

University College London's Grant Museum of Zoology houses around 62,000 specimens amounting to a diverse natural history collection covering the whole of the animal kingdom. Founded in 1827, the museum retains an air of the avid Victorian collector with cases packed full of skeletons, mounted animals and specimens preserved in fluid - including a jar full of dead moles. Endangered or extinct animals in the collection include the Dodo, the Thylacine (or Tasmanian Wolf), and the Quagga - one of only seven skeletons of the extinct zebra-like creature in the world. Not for the squeamish, but fascinating none the less, are Sir Victor Negus's collection of bisected heads.

 
 
 
 

Library and Museum of Freemasonry

Freemason's Hall was built after World War One in art deco style as a tribute to all the Freemasons who lost their lives but there has been a Masonic meeting place on this Great Queen Street site since 1775.

Freemasons Hall, 60 Great Queen Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2B 5AZ

Tube: Holborn Station , Covent Garden Station

 
 

Freemason's Hall was built after World War One in art deco style as a tribute to all the Freemasons who lost their lives but there has been a Masonic meeting place on this Great Queen Street site since 1775. The current Hall is a very opulent building containing ornate masonic temples, each individually styled. The most prominent of these, the Grand Temple, lies in centre of the building providing a meeting place for the various Masonic Lodges including the Grand Lodge and is also used for concerts and musical events. The Library and Museum of Freemasonry is open to the public, free of charge, Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm. If you are interested in the workings of Masonic Lodges tours of the building take place Monday to Friday when the Grand Temple is not in use (there are up to five tours per day at 11am, 12noon, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm). Each tour starts in the Library and Museum. To arrange a Saturday tour contact the Freemasons' Hall on 020 7395 9251 allowing seven days notice.

 
 
 

Horniman Museum

The Horniman specialises in anthropology, natural history and musical instruments, and has a huge collection of taxidermied animals.

100 Road, London, SE23 3PQ

Tube: Denmark Hill Station

 
 

Victorian tea trader Frederick John Horniman collected specimens and artefacts from his travels around the world in the 1860's. His personal collection became the foundation of the Horniman Museum, which is now housed in a Charles Harrison Townsend-designed building. Horniman's original collection included natural history specimens, cultural artefacts and musical instruments. Over the past 100 years, the collection has grown so much that Horniman's original collection comprises only 10 per cent of the current museum. The Horniman also houses an aquarium, and regularly hosts music concerts and special exhibits. Some of the museum's best known objects include a gigantic stuffed walrus, a model dodo and fossils. Also worth a look are the Horniman Gardens, which are set on 16 acres and have a mix of formal and natural landscaping.

 
 
 

Hunterian Museum

The Hunterian Museum within the Royal College of Surgeons offers a fascinating mix of comparative anatomy and pathology specimens.

35-43 Lincoln's Inn Fields, Holborn, London, WC2A 3PE

Tube: Holborn Station , Chancery Lane Station, Temple Station

 
 

The Hunterian Museum within the Royal College of Surgeons boasts a host of enlightening, permanent and temporary, galleries and exhibitions. Housed in the college, the Hunterian Museum collection is open to all and was amassed over four centuries by a cast of colourful characters including John Hunter (1728-1793). It offers a fascinating mix of comparative anatomy and pathology specimens. There are complete skeletons, bones, skulls and teeth, dried preparations, corrosion casts and wax teaching models. Visitors can also examine historical and modern surgical and dental instruments and technologies, as well as paintings, drawings and sculpture. Also within the college, the Wellcome Museums of Anatomy and Pathology are teaching collections, available to qualified practitioners and students of medicine, nursing and related subjects.

 
 
 

Geffrye Museum

A quirky museum showcasing the changing style of the English domestic interior.

136 Kingsland Road, Hackney, London, E2 8EA

Tube: Old Street Station

 
 

There aren't many museums that can have William Morris and Ikea under the same roof, but the Geffyre is one of them. The focus of this quirky museum is the changing style of English domestic interior, from the 1600s to the present. The museum is set in a series of lovely 18th century almshouses, and is surrounded by gardens. As you walk through the various rooms, you can see how English furniture, paintings and decorative arts have changed through the years. You'll see the progression from elegant Georgian interiors to over-the-top Victorian decor.

 
 
 

Clockmaker's Museum, Guildhall Library

Science Museum, Exhibition Road, Clerkenwell, London, SW7 2DD

Tube: Chancery Lane Station

 
 

An exceptional collection of historic clocks, watches, and marine timekeepers. The majority of items in the collection range from c.1600-c.1850.

The collection is housed in a single room, containing at any one time some 600 English and European watches, 30 clocks and 15 marine timekeepers, together with a number of rare horological portraits.

 
 
 

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