Sweetbriar Dreams

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Saturday, 14 January 2017

So, What's Your Favourite Museum?

I am one of those people who just loves a good museum.  The anticipation of going into one for the first time and exploring all they have to offer.  My favourite by far will be no surprise to you, the Museum of London and I try to visit each time I am in the area, if only to see a couple of the exhibitions.  So, do you want a glimpse of my favourite museum?  Grab yourself a custard cream (or maybe the packet, it's a long post!) and a delicious cup of rosie lea and let's go and see this little corner of London... 

Just a hop, skip and jump from St Paul's Cathedral and you come across this little gem...

Full of history and beautifully presented, so let's start with the wall... London Wall...

This is a very small part of the remains of the original Roman London wall built between the 2nd and 3rd century, a defense built to protect Londonium.  It blows my mind how old this wall is, and the hands that built this never knowing that their craft would still be standing today.  The Museum can be found down the road called 'London Wall' and this shot was taken from the glazed viewpoint within the Museum.

With the London Museum you need a day to visit, unless you want to just concentrate on one era of this magnificent city's history.  There is so much to see and read, including entering a room containing the Lord Mayor's Coach.  The opulence of this exquisite coach and the six horses (fake when on exhibition) that pull the coach through the crowds each year is certainly a feast for the eyes (even though a little bit over the top!).  The Museum have special doors that allow them to remove the coach when needed or if the Museum caught fire, without going through the building itself.

Now, if you follow the Museum all the way around, you will start with the very earliest history of Londinium right through to the present day.  Your visit to me today will just have some snippets so I have included just a finger nail of  incredible history that this time capsule of a building contains.

100 - 50BC... yes, that's right!  The Sunbury Hoard.  The largest find of high tin bronze coins ever found and made, they think, in north Kent.  This kind of exhibit has me looking for far too long.  The hands that have touched these, the things they have bought.  Mind blowing, and to be found while building a new housing estate in 1950, so incredibly lucky.

Do you want earlier history?  How about 3640 - 3100BC?  This is the Shepperton Woman...

... and with a little reconstruction...

The exhibit on the Romans is vast and incredibly interesting to see rooms set out as they were.  It's as though you are walking in their shoes, and surrounded by so many items.

Thank goodness for the progression on grooming through the centuries.  Modern day soft make up brushes, hair curling tongs and straighteners!  A whole different affair back in Roman times!

Now, what is your vision of St Paul's Cathedral?  I'm guessing you are thinking of the dome.  Well, this is the previous version...

Not a dome in sight.  Four Cathedrals have stood at Ludgate Hill for 1,400 years and this particular building was completed in the 1320's with a spire of 400 feet high.  This beautiful piece of gothic architecture was destroyed during the Great Fire of London in 1666, and then it was the turn of the current Cathedral to be constructed with the vision of Sir Christopher Wren (and the help of the stonemasons having a drink in the Old Bell Tavern in Fleet Street!)

From large models to the smaller exhibits.  This badge was one of many that would have been brought back from a pilgrimage to see Sir Thomas Beckett's tomb at Canterbury Cathedral.  It shows his tomb, the sword that killed him and also the ship that brought him to England in 1170.

And now onto Oliver Cromwell.  A man who even now can divide a room on whether he was a good or bad man, either way I wouldn't want to cross, or maybe not even be in the presence of for fear of saying the wrong thing, but to lay my eyes on Oliver Cromwell's death mask was something that I was fascinated by.  Actually looking at something that was placed on his lifeless face after his death.  A true likeness, the beard, the closed eyes, the nooks and crannies created by his life.  Things like this are macabre but this is history at its finest.  Oliver Cromwell, his face, right there, which is lucky in a way as after his death he was posthumously executed and his head severed and displayed at Tyburn.  This type of  exhibit cries out to me with its immense importance.  And there I am, just a couple of feet away from a true image of him.  A friend of mine who's love of history is incredibly infectious, sent me the following link which for those who are equally passionate about this time, might like to read.  The link is here.

Moving on and you come to other fascinating exhibits.  The Wellclose Square Prison Cell c1750.  Walking into this 'box' surrounded by the scratchings of those who were held in this Cell was incredibly powerful.  The prison was to the east of the Tower of London and was used for insolvent debtors.

The writing of the debtors so beautiful, and I have to say, Edward Burk featured quite a few times in this cell.

Sometimes as I go around this museum, something new catches my eye.  I can't remember which section this was in, but the sentiments on this plate really sung out to me.  Simple but romantic words.   1661 and a gentle saying from one to another.  I wonder if it was from her to him and as he ate his dinner, the words appeared?  However, after researching this, I found that its discovery was not as romantic!  It was excavated from a London sewer!

One of the exhibitions that I love to walk around is the Victorian Street, my favourite era.  Various shops within this corner of the Museum which I need to revisit and write a blog post in its own right (for another day!).

... and then onto Selfridges, or rather just the lift.  The splendour of that shop is beautiful, especially as you enter the front revolving doors, but can you imagine how beautiful it would have been at the beginning and requesting one of the tempting floors in one of these lifts?

So, that's a little taster of this amazing piece of London.  My favourite Museum? It's this one.  My favourite exhibit?  The one where my Grandad speaks about the Blitz and St Pauls.  A truly magnificent and free Museum.  (if you would like to see more, please click on the link in my side bar).

I'll leave you with the coat of arms of the City of London - Domine Dirige Nos which translates to Lord Guide Us.  The cross is St George with  the sword of St Paul in the top left corner.

The only guidance I needed was to get on the train again, unfortunately!  We'll be back again soon for another visit

I hope you are keeping warm in this colder weather wherever you are.  Have a lovely weekend and week ahead.


  1. I love museums, too, but would be hard pressed to pick a favorite. I love some off-the-wall ones, too....the Ringling Bros. in Sarasota, FL....a little museum in Athens, PA that had remnants of the underground railroad in it...adn I love the big ones, too. xo Diana

  2. I think I too could spend the day her with little trouble. My favourite museum in my little town is Toitu which was first known as The Early Settlers Museum. Absolutely full of history.
    This are a couple of links of posts I did on it a year or so back if you are interested.



  3. What a fabulous museum! I had no idea it existed. I now hope to go sometimes as it looks like a very worthwhile visit. I do also love the V&A!

  4. What a great post. Must go to the Museum of London if I am ever in the capital. The royal coach is amazing!

  5. You certainly took us on an amazing tour, it was indeed a great museum. I can see why you are listing this one as your favourite, a feast for your eyes.

  6. It looks fascinating and as a Londoner I'm ashamed to say I've never been. Something for my 60 x 60 list maybe?

  7. I've visited it last year! it's a great museum and it's free which is always a bonus in London:)

  8. This post is brilliant, Chel. Thank you. I think I went to the Museum of London almost forty years ago and I haven't been since - shocking, I know. I like small museums which tell a local story, like the Portland Museum in Dorset and the Shipwreck Museum in Guernsey, and I suppose the Museum of London does the same thing but on a bigger scale for a bigger place. The Land of Lost Content (National Museum of British Popular Culture) in Craven Arms is bonkersly brilliant. x

  9. I like museums that bring history alive like Beamish and Ryedale Folk Museum.

  10. I love all museums and all the history. This is a great one. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  11. Thank you so much for this tour of your favourite museum Chel. It would all be so very interesting with such an old history that you have there. Have a lovely week.

  12. I enjoy museums as well. This one is certainly interesting and full of history. Thanks for sharing. I can see why it's your favorite. I look forward to more in the future. Have a lovely week.

    Hugs, Vicky

  13. I love museums! My husband has been to this museum, he went there many years ago when he worked in the City. Okay now, this one is on my list!!

  14. OH! I love the British Museum and the National Gallery...don't make me choose a favorite!!

  15. What a marvelous museum this is. I had not heard of it before. The Roman wall, the lettering etched in the prison cell, the death mask of Oliver Cromwell - so much history is attached to all of those things. The mind could go crazy with imagining! Thanks for sharing.

  16. I've been to London several times, but never to the museum of London, so I really enjoyed the post and now I really want to visit that museum!

  17. You are so right about this museum being a bit of a gem. There is always so thing new to find. I need to go and have a look at Cromwell's death mask again. I had completely forgotten about it.


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