Day out in London – Unknown Tourist Spots

Just a quick post on a few attractions in London that are usually of the typical tourist radar. Minh and I are always trying to find different things to discover, so it was no surprise that Minh was able to rustle up these three attractions that are really cool and just a bit different from the large scale museums that dot the capital.

Hunterian Museum at The Royal College of Surgeons of England

Based on the collection of John Hunter, this museum is a treasure trove of well-preserved specimens of all forms, shapes and sizes. It includes animals, insects, and humans.. in both full and piecemeal form. Two highlights of the museum are the skeleton the the “Irish giant” Charles Byrne and one of three surviving dentures belonging to Winston Churchill. They didn’t allow pictures within the museum itself, but I got one outside the entrance, and one of the portraits hanging in the stairwell.

Benjamin Franklin House

I didn’t know this, but during his role as postmaster general for the colonies (before the American Revolution), Benjamin Franklin lived in England (on and off) for about 16 years. During his stay in England, he lodged at 36 Craven Street. So in a way, this is the (unofficial) first embassy for the USA in London. So much interesting discussions and decisions must have been made here while he was living here.  The walk through is very interesting, as it’s guided by “Polly Stevenson”, the daughter of the landlady of the house, and with whom he had a very close personal relationship.

Dennis Severs’ House

We had a little of science and history, now for some art. Dennis Severs’ House is something like a still-life drama. It’s hard to explain without actually walking through it, but for me it was like walking into a Victorian painting, but with all the subjects removed. Or rather like walking into someone’s house just as they had left the room, with the fire still burning and the tea still warm. I guess it’s something of an immersion experience rather than a museum walkthrough. No pictures allowed inside, but I got a shot of the outside.



James Smith & Sons Limited

This shop is the oldest umbrella shop in the world. It’s still owned and run as a family business, and they make some beautiful umbrellas and walking sticks/canes. I had an inclination to buy one, maybe with a parrot handle like Mary Poppins, but it was a bit pricey for something that may not get much use back in California.

Trafalgar Square

OK.. so this is definitely a super touristy spot (just outside the National Gallery), but we were here, and we took some pictures, so I’m including it.


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