By John Smyth – September 30, 201400
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The city of London is larger than most imagine and it is pretty easy to get off the beaten track, while leaving the hustle and bustle behind, to visit some rather unusual places in the city. Of course the prominent attractions are always a big draw being iconic, but for an alternate view of the city there are always some interesting options.
Severs’ House: Just close to Spitalfields Market is a street with a wonderful atmosphereand here you will find the rather weird, but intriguing Dennis Severs’ House. He was an American who purchased the place 30 years ago and decided to live here, minus all the regular comforts and amenities including electricity. In the process he ended up creating something really unique and although it is still in private hands it is accessible to the public. To really experience the atmosphere it is recommended to walk around in silence. Mr. Severs used his imagination to create a fictional family of Mr. Isaac Jervis, with the home still showing signs of being occupied like fresh fruit laden on a bowl and half drunk cups of tea. All of this will make you believe that they have just stepped out, which is exactly what the intention is. A weird place no doubt but worth a visit!
Museum of Brands, Packaging, and Advertising: This strange museum is to be found in Notting Hill and houses a genuinely strange collection. It is the collection of Robert Opie who has been collecting consumer items of daily use ever since he was 16. Today the place holds over 12,000 original items of a diverse range of items from cereal boxes, to washing powder cartons and shampoo bottles amongst a host of other items. Quite zany to say the least but great for a visit!
You will feel as if you revisiting the days of your childhood and reliving memories of the past. You will find the entire collection tucked behind glass cabinets, which are great to show the kids as to how commodities were packed and sold in earlier times. If you feel hunger pangs drop in at the Al Waha restaurant that lies close by.
Soane’s & Hunterian Museums: One of the largest public squares in London is Lincoln’s Inn Fields and is reputed to be the inspiration for Central Park that lies in New York. You will see two museums, Sir John Soane’s Museum and theHunterian Museum, on either sides of the Square. Sir John Soane was anardent collector of ancient artefacts and antiquities and left his home and his entire collection for the public to view. You will have to leave your belongings at the entrance, and generally find a long queue to get admission.
As there is limited space within the connecting townhouses, you will come across the weird sight of the Sarcophagus of Seti I within the crypt and paintings by Hogarth within the gallery. Just across the square lies the Hunterian Museum within the Royal College of Surgeons,where you will see plenty of glass cabinets and preserved cadavers of humans, which definitely are not for the faint hearted. In case you are a Dickens fan, drop in at the Old Curiosity Shop that lies nearby.
Speaker’s Corner: If you are in Hyde Park on a Sunday afternoon you can drop in to Speaker’s Corner to hear speakers express their personal views on a diverse range of topics, which always ends up having a crowd gather. It lies close to Marble Arch Tube Station and as free speech is encouraged, you will hear a lot of lively discussions and spirited tirades for and against religious freedom, alien invasions, politics and a lot more. There have been greats like Lenin and Karl Marx who have graced the podium and expressed their views here, so who knows you might come across someone worth listening to, or if nothing else you could try to improve your talent for heckling.
Fulham Palace: This is one of the city of London Palacesthat you can gain free entry to. The truth is Fulham Palace was the residence of the Bishops of London’s and served as their country home from the 11th century onwards. It never was actually a royal palace, but then Bishops were treated with the same respect and awe as we treat the royal family.
You will find a museum that documents the place’s history and will find a contemporary gallery of art that has been inspired by the palace. There is the favourite with the locals which is the Drawing Room Cafe and its stunning gardens, which are just perfect to spend a sunny afternoon exploring.
London Roman Baths: There is no conclusive evidence that the London Roman Baths are actually Roman but they certainly do stick out like an oddity within Central London. Finding the place itself can be a bit of a challenge so you need to have clear directions to get to the place.
Take a 10 minute walk from Trafalgar Square, go down the side road, pass through the tunnel, grope around to find the button for the light to be switched on, peer in through a window and all will be revealed for you to see. The place was mentioned in Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield and the main protagonist was said to patronise this bath.