One thing that I love about London is that there is no shortage of museums. While there are the well-known ones like the Natural History Museum and The Victoria and Albert, if you look a little deeper you can find lots of smaller places that are still very rich in history.
1. Charles Dickens Museum
48 Doughty Street, London
The Charles Dickens Museum captures not only Dickins’ personal life but also gives insight into the Victoria Era. Dickins’ former home is perfectly preserved to showcase his dining room, drawing room, study and bedroom. It also includes the kitchen and servant quarters. For those of you familiar with Downton Abbey and its exposé of the upper class in comparison to the servants, walking through the house gives you a sense of living in a time long gone. The museum also houses many of Dickins’ personal belongings and explains his personal life as well as his literary career. Some of the rooms pay tribute to his work by displaying his quotes on the walls.
‘An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.’
2. Dennis Server’s House
18 Folgate Street, London
Hidden away in a quiet street near Liverpool station lies an early eighteenth century house which is described as a time capsule. Unfortunately you aren’t allowed to take photos inside, but all the rooms are left to look as they would have in a specific time period. The kitchen, the drawing room, the bedrooms. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the museum is that it is completely silent, no talking is allowed. This ensures that each person can get a true sensory experience through sight, smell and hearing. All the ornaments, props and decorations aim to illustrate what life was like for the inhabitants of the time. Special quotes are left around the house from the artist and creator Dennis Servers. My favourite being:
‘Would you recognise art if it fell out in front of you?’
I think this truly captures what the house is trying to convey – the exhibitions look like they are straight out of an eighteenth century painting.
3. Samuel Johnson Museum
17 Gough Square, London
Hidden away in Gough Square amongst the bustling city, Samuel Johnson’s house is now a tribute to his work and life. Johnson lived in the house during the eighteenth century while he wrote his famous Dictionary of the English Language – you can even see the first edition. The house has survived throughout the centuries, despite being damaged by bombs in WWII.
One of the things I like most about Johnson is his enthusiasm for London. In 1777, Johnson advised his friend that one’s affection for London could never wear thin:
‘Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.’