Suffice it to say, it’s not just visitors to our amazing city that’ll want to explore some of these unusual places, even us Londoners forget what’s on our doorstep every now and again.
One of the things I love most about London is that there’s always something new and interesting to discover. Whether that’s some of the secret spots of London, (such as the hidden noses and ears in Covent Garden) or someplace unique to eat, like a coffee shop in a victorian public toilet London definitely has a whole host of amazing surprises to be found all over the city. 🙂
Following on from our Secret Spots to see in Central London, I wanted to share some overlooked places I’ve recently discovered in Central London.
Moving away from the more obvious sights like the London Eye and Tower Bridge, I wanted to introduce a whole different side of London, one that you’d never expect to see but will hopefully love to explore.
Take a look at 10 unique and unusual places you definitely have to discover in London:
1.) Become a monster in London
Any monster worth their weight in gold heads straight to Hoxton Street Monster Supplies for all their pick-me-ups and monstrously delicious remedies. Head inside to experience some fright jars, learn how real monster live and try some ‘human ears’ and skin! They also make some goodies for you to take home with you.
2.) Explore an overlooked Royal Palace
Eltham Palace in the Borough of Greenwich is part of the Royal Family’s Crown Estate (who also own all of Regent Street and many other buildings around London). Eltham Palace is a great place to explore an art-deco style palace that has a history dating back as far as the 1300’s.
Take the train from Central London to Eltham railway station to reach this grand palace and grounds. Eltham Palace is definitely an (undeservedly) overlooked Royal palace in London.
3.) See the Golden Boy of the Fire of London
Located on the corner of Giltspur Street and Cock Lane in Central London is the Golden Boy of Pye Corner. The cute little monument marks the official spot where the Great Fire of London was finally stopped in 1666. The statue is handcrafted out of wood and smothered in gold.
4.) Discover one of the oldest (and most gruesome) operating theatres in the world!
Anyone looking for an unusual place to visit in the city should definitely make a bee-line for the Old Operating Theatre which (as is evident in it’s name) is considered to be one of the oldest operating theatres in the world and not just that, it’s one of the more gruesome ones you can visit and this was back before anaesthetics were discovered. The operating theatre was actually home to some of the best surgeons in the world but unfortunately most of its successes came as a result of trail and error! Yikes!
5.) Trademark your smile at a secret clown museum
Love or hate clowns, the Circus Clowns Club’s cute little gallery is a must for anyone interested in ‘clowning around’ (geddit? 🙂 ). In olden times, clowns would have signature make-up that they would ‘trademark’. These were then painted onto eggs so that no other clown could copy. An interesting little piece of London that’s open the first Friday of each month or by appointment. Check out the official Circus Clowns Club website to visit.
6.) See the body/skeleton of Jeremy Bentham in UCL
For a peculiar piece of London’s history, take a peruse at the auto-icon of Jeremy Bentham, who, according to good old wikipedia, was “an English philosopher, jurist, and social reformer”. He’s a big deal in British History – (see the full wikipedia article here).
Jeremy requested the help of his friend to display his auto-icon although nowadays, the statue you see contains the full skeleton and clothes but nothing of his head. His head was initially meant to be preserved but the process went disastrously wrong and was thus replaced with wax. This unique piece of London history is now present at University College London (South Cloisters in the Main Building).
7.) Become a master miller at The Brixton Windmill
Now 200 years old, the Brixton Windmill is definitely one of the more secret and unusual pieces of London that most people miss. It’s not only a great sight to see, it also a chance to craft your skills as a master miller through one of the numerous training sessions they hold! And haven’t we all secretly dreamt of becoming Master Millers? (Okay, we haven’t but it’s still worth a gander! 🙂 )
8.) Discover Henry VIII’s underground wine cellar in Whitehall
First off – who drank all the wine!?! 😮
Buried deep under the city, more specifically, under the Ministry of Defence is Henry VIII’s wine cellar. This beautifully maintained vault is where Henry VIII would keep his most precious wines to guzzle to his heart’s content. The wine cellar is one of the few remaining parts of Whitehall Palace which is where the Royal Family used to like back in the day.
Henry’s wine cellar is invite-only access so you’ll need to either be invited to visit, attend an event at the venue here or perhaps even email the Ministry of Defence and ask for a cheeky tour! (Good luck with the last one!)
9.) See the weeping church of St. Bartholomews
St. Bartholomews is one of London’s prettiest churches. When I last gave a reading here during my friends wedding I found out some fascinating history about how the church actually cries!
In wet and cold weather, the walls allow water to soak through, saturating the historic structure. When rainfall is heavy enough the water then weeps through the walls to create a crying church, giving St. Bartholomews its nickname of the being the only “weeping church” in London.
If you search the church you’ll even find reference to these tears with the inscription ‘unsluice your briny floods’.
10.) Discover dinosaurs in Crystal Palace Park
Rawwwwwrrrrr! Dating back over 150 years, these dinosaurs mark the first ever attempt to create full scale models of dinosaurs that explorers had discovered. Now a national heritage monument, these dinosaurs can be viewed by all who visit the park.