Jewels and Dickens: The top 5 museums in London


If you are on one of those London hotel packages and you are looking for something unique to do on your trip, then here is a nice collection of museums you would’ve never thought to go to but should. While the likes of the British Museum and the National Portrait Gallery remain firm favorites among tourists, here are some ways in which you can create a varied and fascinating itinerary.

Apsley House

This spectacular home of the first Duke of Wellington is one of the most beautiful mansions in London and it is still the home of Wellington’s descendants. Also known as ‘Number One, London’, the house became the Duke’s after his famous victory over Napoleon at Waterloo.

The inside has remained virtually the same since the days of the Duke, with one of the most extensive art collections in the city. Visitors can enjoy works from Rubens, Velazquez, Goya and Van Dyck, while the silver porcelain and sculpture displays are simply to die for. Highlights to look out for include Canova’s statue of Napoleon, the Waterloo Gallery, and the new-look entrance hall that was unveiled this year.

A joint ticket is available to visit Apsley House and Wellington Arch. From The Montcalm, the house is just a 20-minute walk through Hyde Park until you reach the south-east corner of the park on Knightsbridge.

Benjamin Franklin House

Dr Benjamin Franklin lived here between 1757 and 1775, and it has now become a great afternoon out. Standing as a scientist, philosopher, inventor and even founding father of the USA, Franklin lived in this house that was built around 1730 and is now a Grade I listed site.

 Visitors can enjoy A Historical Experience that looks that Franklin’s 16 years here, a scholarship research centre which boasts a full set of the published Papers of Benjamin Franklin, and a student science centre.

From the Montcalm, just hop onto the Central Line from Marble Arch and then change onto the Northern Line at Tottenham Court Road. Get off at Charing Cross and walk onto Craven Street, on which the house is located. The whole journey should take around 20 minutes.

Buckingham Palace

This place really needs no introduction. Having served as both the office and residence for British monarchs since it was built during the reign of Queen Victoria, the palace is one of the few working royal palaces in the world.

 Over the summer, the site will be opened to visitors, as they get to tour the 19 State Rooms, see treasures from the Royal Collection by the likes of Rubens and Rembrandt, come close to Sevres porcelain and encounter sculptures by Canova and Chantrey. All year round, there is also the Changing the Guard ceremony outside, all set to music – very pompous stuff!

To get to Buckingham Palace, walk through Hyde Park until you reach the Hyde Park Corner station, and then walk up the Mall to the palace – it should take around 30 minutes.

Charles Dickens Museum

Number 48, Doughty Street, has become famous all over the world for the place where author Charles Dickens lived between the years 1837 and 1839. Having described the site as ‘my house in town’, Dickens wrote novels such as Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby here, while two of his daughters were born in the house and his beloved sister-in-law Mary died upstairs. It is therefore hardly a surprise that this home was chosen to be transformed into the official Dickens museum.

Charles Dickens Museum

Visitors can enjoy original furniture, first-edition books, letters, notes and pictures, while there are seasonal temporary exhibitions offering further insight into this great man’s life.

From the Montcalm, just hop onto the Central Line from Marble Arch to Chancery Lane, and then walk up Grays Inn Road. Take a left onto Roger Street and then an immediate right onto Doughty Street – it should be a ten-minute walk from the station.

Jewel Tower

Located just opposite the Houses of Parliament, this medieval tower was originally part of the Palace of Westminster and it was built in 1363 by Edward III to guard the privy wardrobe that contained rich robes and valuables. The 14th century ribbed vault is home to a variety of cool stuff, such as a model of the ‘lost’ palace, replicas of objects and an 18th-century clerk’s office.

Spanning all three floors is also a great exhibition looking at the tower’s history and how its role has changed over the years, while you can also learn about the history of weights and measures.

Walk for about five minutes to Baker Street station, where you can grab the Jubilee Line to Westminster. Pass Big Ben and go along the Houses of Parliament to find the tower.

Museum of London

Sure to amuse all ages, the Museum of London takes an extremely exciting journey through the city’s history. Starting in prehistoric London, your little ones will be able to see how the area changed under Roman and Saxon rule, shop in the markets of Medieval Britain and then see how the city had to deal with fire, plague and civil wars. After all this, walk along Victorian streets, check out recreated pleasure gardens and then finish off with the stunning Lord Mayor’s Coach.

The museum is completely free for adults and children, and hour-long guided tours are available at a cost.

From the Montcalm, just hop onto the Central Line from Marble Arch to St Pauls, and then walk up St Martin’s Le Grand to reach the museum.

If you are looking to go a bit off the beaten track and check out some more of the city’s more unique museums, try any of these for size – you may just find that they end up being the highlight of your entire trip!