Sunday, 23 November 2014

Unusual Museums - The Hunterian, London

When Tom and I embarked on our British road trip back in June, I made sure that some quirky museums were added to our itinerary. The Pencil Museum in Keswick was first on the list, followed by a trip to the World of Illusions in Edinburgh, which didn't disappoint! 

So when a friend told me about the Hunterian Museum in London, I added it to my 'must see' list. Last week I had chance to visit, on a stopover in London and persuaded my friend Adam to accompany me. The museum is housed in the Royal College of Surgeons, a lovely building located in Holborn. 

The Museum is named after John Hunter, a Victorian surgeon who started collecting medical specimens as part of his research into medical science. No photos are allowed in the museum (which is probably wise!) but above is one from the Hidden London website so that you can get an idea of just how much there is to see there.

There seemed to be every kind of animal preserved in jars, next to human body-parts of every description, which can be a bit disturbing to see - this museum is definitely not for the squeamish! Also on display is the skeleton of Charles Byrne who became known as the 'Irish Giant.' Although the museum is quite unsettling, it was really interesting to see just how far medicine has come since the 1700s. 

After visiting the Hunterian (you can see our slightly shocked faces as we left!) we crossed through the park to the other side of the square where another brilliant (and free) museum is located, housing the collection of another John; architect Sir John Soane

Soane designed the Bank of England and Dulwich Picture Gallery amongst other buildings. His home is now open to the public, and contains an amazing array of artworks and antiquities collected on his world travels. Once you step inside the museum gets more and more intriguing. It is also home to a famous set of paintings by HogarthA Rake's Progress, which is worth seeing close-up. 

I really enjoyed both museums and would encourage a visit to them next time you're in the capital and fancy a change from the usual tourist haunts. 

See also: A Trip to The Horniman Museum.

Do you have any recommendations for more unusual museums? I'd love to hear them!


  1. Ooh this has gone on my 'to visit' list. I have a weird fascination with taxidermy/skeletons/organs/stuff in jars... X

    1. You should definitely visit then! x

  2. Williton in Somerset has a Bakelite museum. I've never been but it sounds intriguing. There's also Tropiquaria down the road which isn't a museum but is an indoor zoo with a shadow puppet theatre. Such a strange combination but something I visited at least once a year growing up.

    1. Ooh the Bakelite museum sounds good. As does the shadow theatre! Another strange combination I've seen is in Matlock Bath, they have an aquarium which doubles us as a hologram museum!

  3. I can vouch for the Bakelite museum being very good! Also the Fairground Heritage Musuem in Devon and the Giant Angus MacAskill museum on the Isle of Skye are really interesting. The British Commercial Vehicle Musuem in Leyland is both fascinating and incredibly sad (as the owners seem to have no clue how to run it).

    We love quirky museums and on our list at the moment is Bletchley Park, Cuckooland, Imber, Keith Harding's World of Mechanical Music, Blackgang Chine, the Barometre Museum and Whipsnade Tree Cathedral.

    If you haven't read them already you should get hold of 'Bollocks to Alton Towers' and 'Far From the Sodding Crowd' - excellent books listing all sorts of weird and wacky places to visit! :-) xx

    1. Great tips thanks! Cuckooland sounds amazing x


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