Explore London’s lesser-known gems for less

January 20, 2023Bea Squires0

Step away from the landmarks and explore London’s lesser-known gems for less. From Renaissance masterpieces to Victorian toys, these more offbeat museums and galleries make for a unique day out


Eclectic treasures
The Wallace Collection
via VisitLondon

The Wallace Collection, named after Sir Richard Wallace who built the collection along with the Marquises of Hertford in the 18th and 19th centuries, houses an astonishing collection of art from the period, as well as medieval and Renaissance works, sculptural pieces and one of the most revered collections of princely arms and armour in Britain. Open seven days a week, cast your eyes over mesmerising works by painters such as Fragonard, Rubens, Rembrandt and Velázquez. Why not grab a coffee in the elegant, light-filled courtyard café after you’ve browsed the collection? www.wallacecollection.org

About half an hour’s walk from The Wallace Collection, the Wellcome Collection may be similarly named but it houses some very different objects. The museum and library in Euston explores ‘ideas about the connections between medicine, life and art’. You’ll find all sorts of curiosities here covering everything from health to the human experience. In Plain Sight (to 12 Feb) explores the ways in which we see and are seen by other people, questioning the role of sight in our society through the contrasting experiences of sighted, partially sighted and blind people. Both the exhibition and permanent collections are free to enter. There’s also an excellent shop and café. www.wellcomecollection.org

A handsome example of Georgian architecture, Sir John Soane’s Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Holborn, was once the home of the renowned architect and has remained intact since his death in 1837. It is brimming with his fascinating array of antiques, furniture, sculptures, architectural models and paintings by icons including Hogarth, Turner and Canaletto. There is no need to book. www.soane.org


Wonderful Walthamstow
Image courtesy of the William Morris Gallery

The William Morris Gallery was once home to the eponymous revolutionary 19th-century designer, craftsman, writer, activist and socialist. A beautiful example of Georgian architecture, it now houses textiles, furniture, ceramics, paintings, designs and personal possessions associated with Morris and his peers. Displays change regularly and there’s also a lovely, glass-roofed café and the charming adjoining Lloyd Park with its manicured gardens. www.wmgallery.org.uk

Image courtesy of God’s Own Junkyard

Down the road in an unassuming residential area of Walthamstow, the brilliantly named Gods Own Junkyard twinkles like a multicoloured neon diamond in the rough. The collection was the brainchild of the late artist Chris Bracey, who produced neon props for Hollywood films; and here they reside, along with many other bright and bold Vegas-style neon signs and artworks that didn’t make the cut. The onsite café and bar (with an outdoor terrace for the summer months) serve hot drinks, cakes and alcohol, so you can take a pew while you gaze on in awe. www.godsownjunkyard.co.uk


South of the river
Horniman Museum & Gardens © Laura Mtungwazi

A great one for children, it would be easy to while away a whole day at the Horniman Museum & Gardens in Forest Hill. The museum is the result of Victorian tea trader Frederick Horniman’s lifelong fascination with collecting objects from around the world. There’s so much to see and do here, from the free displays in the World Gallery which explore cultures around the globe, a natural history gallery, a music room packed with rare and unusual instruments, a library, sprawling gardens with an animal walk and a ticketed aquarium and butterfly house. www.horniman.ac.uk


Please like, share and comment below and see if we have anything else to inspire your next visit to London.

Bea Squires

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