Discover - Highlights of the Museum of London
Updated: Feb 14, 2021
A museum on the history of London and it's free! Do you really need anymore reasons to pay a visit to one of my favourite museums in London?
It's not the most welcoming of places in London, I grant you that. Slap bang in the middle of a roundabout and you can't even see the entrance from ground level. But plans are a foot for it to move the short distance to Smithfield Market (although the date keeps getting further away).
Following London's history from its' early beginnings in 450,000 BC to more modern times, the museum takes you on a journey of our capital, and it's a great place for children and adults alike.
Living so close means I can just pop in for a quick whizz around, go and see some of my favourite artefacts or spend a free afternoon wandering through the galleries. But either way, how ever much time you have on your hands, I throughly recommend a visit. And if you are in need of a little inspiration, read on!
One of the most excited things in the museum is the tombstone and coffin of the Spitalfields Woman, whose remains were found on the site of the Gherkin in the City of London. During excavations in the area before the construction could begin, a skeleton of a Roman woman was found, who died around AD 350 and 400 age between 13 and 17. Her lead coffin, beautifully decorated lid with intricate patterns of scallop shells and rope can be seen here, as well as a collection of objects found with her. I think this is one of the most interesting Roman finds in London.
Another highlight nearby is the Bucklersbury Mosaic dating back to AD 250, discovered in 1869 almost intact.
Through into the next section, you'll enter Medieval London but before you razz on it, make sure to check out the 7th century brooch in the display cabinet just before the main room. Dating back to the Saxon period, this copper brooch, intricately decorated with gold and garnets, was found in Floral Street in Covent Garden, which back then would have been the very heart of Lundenwic, the early Saxon town of London.
Dominating the space is a model of Old St Pauls Cathedral, the building being completed in the mid 1300s until is was badly damaged in the Great Fire of London in 1666. It was one of the longest churches in the world, and also had one of the tallest spires in the world at 489 feet until it was struck down by lightning
There's also a very good video on the Black Death here, which swept across London and the rest of the country in 1348, and it's been estimated that around 75 to 200 million people lost their lives.
War, Plague and Fire; 1550’s - 1660’s
There's quite a few bits to see in the section, but highlights for me include the Copperplate of London - the earliest view of the city! Oliver Cromwell's death mask as well as a video on the Great Fire of London of 1666 (it's normally filled with school children!).
Going downstairs approaches modern day London, but first take a look at a prison door from the notorious Newgate Prison, a "walk-in" Charles Booth poverty map and a walk through the Vauxhall Pleasure Garden. Walk through Victoria London, with narrow streets lined with shops (it always feels like I'm walking through a Harry Potter set here) and marvel an original Selfridge's lift.
Make sure to look out for a silver dish belonging to everyones favourite diarist Samuel Pepys here too!
Do you have any favourites I've missed? Let me know!
Heard in London