London is a dream for any tourist. There really is so much to see and do. But if you’re looking to stay away from the mainstream attractions do something a bit quirky in England’s capital city then here are four ideas for you.
Dennis Severs’ House
A visit to Dennis Severs’ House in Spitalfields feels a lot like taking a step back in time. Between 1979 and 1999 Severs restored, furnished and decorated his Grade II listed Georgian house and immersed himself in the 18th century, by living without electricity and only using items from the Georgian and Victorian periods.
Sadly Severs passed away in 1999, and the house is now open to the public. But visiting the property is nothing like a trip to your average period home or living museum.
The idea is that your stepping back in time into a house that’s currently being lived in by a fictional family of silk weavers. There’s half eaten food in most of the rooms and the beds are unmade. Guests are asked to walk round in total silence, and listen to the sounds the house is making. It’s the closest thing to a time machine that you’ll find in London or any other city for that matter.
Davenports Magic Shop
How many of you know that there’s a magic shop in the middle of Trafalgar Square? Well it’s actually located in Charing Cross Underground Station, but that’s close enough. Lewis Davenport started the business back in 1898 making them the world’s oldest family run magic company.
And Davenports isn’t an ordinary magic shop. There’s certainly a special feel to the store, and it’s well worth heading underground to pop your head in after you’ve taken a look at Nelson’s Column.
If you’re a serious rock ‘n’ roll fan you might think that London’s Hard Rock Cafe is a little bit naff. And if you’re assessing what they’ve got on the surface you’d be right, but it’s what lies beneath that will intrigue.
Below the boring gift shop you’ll find the Vault where there’s more than enough rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia to impress. This includes Jimmy Hendri’s Flying V Gibson guitar, the glasses worn by Buddy Holly and even the lyrics to John Lennon’s Imagine complete with original handmade corrections. It’s open every day of the week and the Hard Rock Cafe’s staff are more than happy to give free guided tours to visitors.
London Underground Lost Property Office
You’ll find the London Underground Lost Property Office just around the side of Baker Street tube station, a stone’s throw from Sherlock Holmes’ fictional home. When you approach the front office it doesn’t look special at all, but the underground storage rooms really are quite something.
The office do their best to reunite owners with their lost belongings, but if an item is unclaimed after three months it is usually either given to charity or auctioned off. Some of the more unusual finds include a lawn mower, hundreds of pairs of false teeth and a jar of bull’s semen. Would you fancy bidding on any of these?
This is a guest post by Andy Hamilton. When he’s not losing jars of bull’s semen he works for Find Me A Gift, the best place to find unusual gift ideas for all your friends and family.
If this article floats your boat, try the Bradt travel guide Eccentric London