Making the most of a trip to London means planning your days out very carefully, making sure that you’ll be visiting the landmarks, museums and historic places that you truly find fascinating, and seeking out those unusual places off the beaten track. If you’re visiting London for the first time, then the chances are that you’ll want to visit places like Buckingham Palace, the British Museum and Trafalgar Square – the famous landmarks and attractions that are certain to feature on any tourists ‘must see’ list. If you’ve been a few times, however, or even if it’s your first visit and wish to avoid the crowds of tourists, then there are lesser known but equally fascinating places to seek out, places that give a real feeling for the multi-layered life of a city the size of London, and the following are just a few of them:
The Hunterian Museum – this museum is based in the Royal College of Surgeons, at Lincoln’s Inn and offers something a little bit different to the average museum. The displays consist of surgical and anatomical specimens in jars, surgical instruments and, perhaps most bizarrely of all, a set of Winston Churchill’s dentures. Admission to the museum is free.
Davenports Magic Shop – just around the corner from Charing Cross Station lies this fascinating celebration of all things magical – a real life Harry Potter shop would be an accurate way to describe it. Not only is it crammed with magic tricks, props and items, but the members of staff will happily perform tricks to let you see how they work.
Secret Cinema – the Secret Cinema isn’t a place, it’s a concept. When you buy a ticket, you don’t know what film you’re going to see, but what you do know is that seeing it will be an unforgettable experience. The organisers will tell you where to go, and when you turn up you’ll be watching a film in a venue which has been themed to match it. For example, prison drama The Shawshank Redemption was screened in a disused school which had been transformed into a prison for the night.
Angels Costumiers – this theatrical costume agency has been providing costumes for stage and film productions since 1840. An indication of their prestige is the fact that, over the years, their costume design skills have garnered no fewer than 34 Oscars. Contact them to book an in-depth behind the scenes tour, taking in a selection of more than 2 million items.
Chiselhurst Caves – situated outside central London, these caves are a 30 minute train journey from London Bridge, but are more than worth the effort. The 22 miles of cave were created by man, digging out the chalk and stone used to construct the original buildings of London. During the Second World War they were used as air raid shelters, and in the 1960’s were a somewhat unusual venue for rock and pop concerts, with artists such as Pink Floyd, David Bowie and The Rolling Stones playing concerts there.