Halloween is just 10 days away and if you’re looking for something spooky to do in London (for FREE!) then this post is for you. However, if you’re a little squeamish then best to come back when you’re not reading this and stuffing your face.
When my original plans to visit London fell through yesterday I decided to take myself out on a day date to the capital city, which ended up to be frighteningly fantastic. Honestly, I had the best time. It’s so refreshing being a tourist in your home town, proving that you can still travel solo without having to get on a plane and jet off! In all honesty I’d forgotten how much fun I have by myself and how important it is to just be me every so often. After getting used to solo travel I really don’t want to lose this skill of being alone and not being lonely.
I knew exactly what I wanted to do with this free time – culture vulture it up! The museums in London are some of the best in the world and for the most part they’re free but I wasn’t interested in the common tourist sites like the V&A or Natural History Museum, nuh-uh I wanted to spend my time lost in the weird and wonderful. Step in the Wellcome Collection, Grant Museum of Zoology and The British Library (I’ll explain why this made the list later). Plus, all three are within a ten minute walk of Euston train station, perfect if you’re not so confident on the London underground!
The current exhibition of mental asylums through the ages instantly interested me. I fell in love with the whimsical wanderings of the Wanderland studio (only open until 30th Oct) and winced at the many unusual objects on display in the Henry Wellcome’s Medicine Man room. Napoleon’s toothbrush, late nineteenth century male anti-masturbation devices (this will really strike Halloween fear in most men!), tattoos on human skin from 1850 and shrunken heads were just some of the bizarre items luring you in.
It was the funky but bizarre reading room that I enjoyed the most. With a sign telling you human remains were inside it appealed to anyone with a morbid side. Bright displays, fully stocked bookshelves and huge bean bags filling the stairway made this room a perfect retreat to work, study or soak all the ghoulishness up.
I could have spent hours here poking around plus the two coffee shops and well-stocked gift shop make it even harder to leave. Maybe not one for small children but it certainly works for adults with a curious mind *raises hand*.
Did you know – Worried about people being mistakenly buried when still alive two doctors created the tobacco rescucitation kit that blew plumes of smoke up a persons bum to see if they could detect movement and even bring them back to life!
Info: Open five days a week until 6pm (late night on Thursdays until 10pm). 183 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE. www.wellcomecollection.org
Just around the corner from the Wellcome Collection is this much smaller museum that’s just as gory if you’ve got a delicate stomach. With over 68,000 specimens housed here it’s the ones pickled in jars that really can give you a fright.
From skeletons of now extinct species such as dodo’s and the tasmanian tiger, to a large jar of preserved moles (!!) and a display showing the difference between human and reptile brains. Super interesting and perfect for big and little kids with a fascination in zoology or pickling. It was difficult to turn your head from some of the displays even if it did make you feel a little queasy seeing these floating mammal parts in front of you.
There’s even a special Halloween event on Sat 29th Oct (6.30-9pm) where you can spend the evening locked in surrounded by skeletons and skulls. Creepy.
Did you know – There’s a skeleton of a quagga, a South African zebra extinct since 1883, making this the rarest skeleton in the world!
Info: Open Monday to Saturday 1pm – 5pm. Grant Museum, Rockefeller Building, 21 University Street, London, WC1E 6DE. www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/zoology
Okay, okay, so this one’s not spooky or downright odd as the two before but it does have some pretty awesome things housed here that can send a shiver down your spine. For example, this enormous place is home to 170million publications (they receive a copy of every publication produced in the UK and Ireland and take on 3million new stock each year) with 11 reading rooms. From maps, to music, to books, to stamps, to articles they all find a spot here. A stunning glass tower crammed full of books takes centre stage and gave me inspiration for displaying my many books at home *ahem*. Four cafes, a glorious gift shop for bookworms and so many tables and plug sockets for remote working made this place packed when I visited.
In the Sir John Ritblatt Gallery is where you’ll find the juicy stuff including hand-written Beatles lyrics on the back of a birthday card, a manuscript from Jane Austen’s Persuasion, the Magna Carta and Leonardo da Vinci’s notepad. The downside to this place is that you can’t take photos of ANY of the collection which means you’ll just have to drop in when you’re next in London to see it all for yourselves!
Did you know – If you saw 5 items a day it would take you 80,000 years to see the whole collection!
Info: Open every day – check the website for detailed times. 96 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB www.bl.uk