London is a vast, cosmopolitan and modern city but it has also got a very rich history. It is easy to forget this fact when you’re standing among the newest skyscrapers and high-rise buildings in the very heart of London: the City of London. But that history is actually quite present. You just need to know where to look. So the next time you’re walking down the busy streets of London look up or look down and you just might spot the London Stone for example. However, the easiest way to learn about the history of London is to visit the Museum of London which is close to the Barbican center and St Paul’s.
First impressions: After visiting the Sky garden I walked down the streets of London in the direction of the Museum of London. The building itself is modern but ugly I dare say. However, as you well know the looks aren’t important, it’s what’s inside that counts. The entrance is free which is great! I entered the museum and followed the suggested route to see all the permanent exhibitions.
What can you see in the museum? The museum was established in 1976 and there are currently plans to move the museum to a new location. According to Wikipedia the Museum of London houses the largest urban history collection in the world. The permanent exhibitions include: London before London (prehistory mainly), Roman London, Medieval London, War, Plague & Fire, Expanding City, People’s City gallery (there’s an actual red phone box!), World City, The City Gallery (very small) and the London 2012 Cauldron.
To be honest I whizzed through the prehistorical gallery and focused more on the Roman London. There were a bunch of schoolchildren with their teachers copying the Roman mosaics floor. London doesn’t have that many visible Roman remains in the streets like some other cities but there are plenty of artifacts in the museum as well as the remains of the Roman city wall in the museum’s courtyard. It was quite interesting to see a reconstruction of Roman rooms. I was surprised when I found the London Stone in the museum which was temporarily placed here due to some construction works. I have visited the Monument of London and know enough about the Great Fire of 1666 so I didn’t dwell too much on that part of the exhibition. I liked the elaborate dresses and the doll’s house in the Expanding City gallery. I thoroughly enjoyed walking around the Victorian walk with mock-up shop fronts in the People’s City gallery. It was like being transported to a London street from the Sherlock Holmes times 🙂 Of course, I was more than pleased when I came face to face to an iconic red phone box too. It was also fun to look at the dresses from the 60’s and to learn more about the recent London history. I admired the Lord Mayor’s State Coach in the City Gallery and looked up the Olympic cauldron from 2012 London Summer Olympics.
Museum facilities: There are toilets, a restaurant, two cafes and a lunch area as well as lockers, lifts and baby changing facilities. There’s also a very good gift shop at the exit. It’s got plenty of books, prints, posters and postcards about London history. I even saw some board games and of course sweets and tea and all the usual souvenirs such as T-shirts, fridge magnets and mugs. The museum is free but the donations are welcomed. You can also relax in the museum’s ˝garden˝ at the entrance.
Final impressions: I’ve been 11 times to London but it was only on my last visit this May that I’ve finally visited the Museum of London. I definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about London. I really enjoyed my visit.
Have you ever visited the Museum of London?