by Harley Nott
London for Free (part 2)
Unlike the museums and art galleries of most capital cities, in London, among other attractions, they are free!
Well known among these gems are The Science Museum, Tate Britain and Tate Modern, The V&A, The British Library, The Changing of the Guard, and St. James Park.
Here are some lesser known, but just as interesting, free attractions:
National Maritime Museum – Greenwich
Explore the history of life on the sea – the adventures, the battles, the bravery and the discoveries – through the vast collection of art and objects at the world’s largest maritime museum. The National Maritime Museum is situated in beautiful Greenwich Park and is part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. It is walking distance from the Royal Observatory, the Queen’s House, Cutty Sark and the River Thames. The historic building includes 10 galleries, a shop, café, interactive displays and is fully wheelchair accessible.
Sir John Soane’s Museum
Sir John, the architect of the Bank of England, had a magpie’s eye for unusual and exquisite bric-a-brac. His former home has long served as a museum space to show off the collection, which includes period furniture, paintings by the likes of Hogarth and, most memorably, the sarcophagus of Seti I.
The V&A Museum of Childhood
This is the UK’s National Museum of Childhood. It is the largest institution of its kind in the world. Its mission is to hold in trust the nation’s childhood collections and to be an international leader in engaging audiences in the material culture and experiences of childhood. The Museum explores childhood in breadth and depth, animating the richness and diversity of children’s lives and placing the child’s voice and agency at its core.
The Geffrye explores the home from 1600 to the present day. Evocative displays of London living rooms and gardens illustrate homes and home life through the centuries, reflecting changes in society, behaviour, style and taste. Set in beautiful 18th-century almshouse buildings, the museum is surrounded by gardens – a much-loved oasis in the heart of inner-city London.
Visit the restored almshouse for a rare glimpse into the lives of London’s poor and elderly in the 1780s and 1880s. Explore Panoramas of the museum and gardens and take a Virtual Tour. And if the weather’s good, don’t forget to bring a picnic to enjoy in the gloriously green gardens.
RAF Museum London
If you’re searching for something different, why not take off to the Royal Air Force Museum in Colindale and navigate your way through the history of aviation from the earliest balloon flight to the latest Eurofighter? This world-class collection of more than 100 aircraft, aviation and wartime memorabilia offers a fun day out for all the family. Don’t forget to visit the 3D cinema in Milestones of Flight, an awe-inspiring sound and light show that takes you back in time to the Battle of Britain; or the interactive gallery for children, Aeronauts, which contains a variety of games that teach them about flight.
The Wallace Collection
Just north of the exhausting crowds of Oxford Street stands Hertford House, home to the Wallace Collection. The sizeable galleries are noted for the fine paintings, displays of weapons and armour, and elegantly furnished rooms. Painters represented include Rembrandt, Titian and Van Dyck, and the Wallace is also home to the famous Laughing Cavalier by Frans Hals. The restaurant in the central atrium must rank among London’s most exquisite gallery dining spaces.
The Wellcome Collection
Sir Henry Wellcome, a pioneering 19th century pharmacist, amassed a vast and idiosyncratic collection of implements and curios relating to the medical trade, now displayed here. In addition to these fascinating and often grisly items – ivory carvings of pregnant women, used guillotine blades, Napoleon’s toothbrush – there are several serious works of modern art, most on display in a smaller room to one side of the main chamber of curiosities. The temporary exhibitions are often brilliant and come with all manner of associated events, from talks to walks. The Wellcome has recently undergone a £17.5 million development project, which has opened up even more areas of the building to the public including two new galleries and the beautiful Reading Room, which is a combination of library, gallery and event space.
You can also save money by staying in a vacation rental rather than a hotel. Our smaller properties have a few late available dates, but in general we’re pretty booked up until the middle of July. Book now for the end of July through September.
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