Unusual London places to visit

Here are some suggestions for unusual, interesting and 'hidden' places to visit in London which I've featured on this site. These should be of interest to Londoners as well as tourists and visitors!

Parks and squares

Paternoster Square
  • Paternoster Square - just behind St Paul's Cathedral, a mini-monument and Elisabeth Frink sheep. 
  • Postman's Park - it seems to feature in every 'secret London' list, but is really worth a visit for the Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice. 
  • Victoria Tower Gardens, right next to the Houses of Parliament, are home to a wonderful piece of Victoriana - the Buxton Memorial Fountain
  • Pelican feeding time is one of the more unusual attractions of St James's Park
  • St George's Gardens off Borough High Street incorporates an original wall from Marshalsea debtors' prison. 
  • Charlton House offers parkland, as well as a very lovely venue for a cup of tea.
  • Hall Place, Bexley, has parkland, formal gardens and heraldic topiary - as well as a rather amazing Tudor house.
  • All London's 'magnificent seven' cemeteries are worth a visit; Nunhead Cemetery is among the less well-known. It is open daily and offers regular guided tours.
  • Ladywell Cemetery is a Victorian municipal cemetery, full of fascinating stories: look out for guided tours. Greenwich's Victorian maritime cemetery is now a park, East Greenwich Pleasaunce.
  • Crystal Palace Park has dinosaurs lurking in the vegetation. Victorian dinosaurs, no less!
  • Kew Gardens may be one of London's best-known parks, but its Japanese Gateway has a surprising and thought-provoking history. 
  • Many of London's garden squares are private, but open to the public for Open Garden Squares weekend - you can see everything from a nursemaids' tunnel to Doric water pumps

Transport and travel

Acton Depot
  • Croydon Airport - once London's main passenger airport, it now opens its museum once a month. You could combine a visit with a look at the remains of Croydon's atmospheric railway
  • If you're in Baker Street, have a look in the Lost Property Office windows. 
  • Piccadilly Circus underground station has a vintage world clock.
  • Also on the Piccadilly Line, Barons Court is an Art Nouveau gem.
  • King's Cross Station has a lovely new extension - and the original facade will soon be emerging once more. 
  • Victoria Station has some vintage tiled maps, full of charming details (I would also suggest a look at Little Ben just outside, but he's in storage until 2016). A smaller, local station full of Victorian appeal is Battersea Park
  • London Transport Museum opens its Acton Depot stores several times a year. 
  • On Westminster Bridge Road, see where the trains of the Necropolis Railway once departed.
  • Royal Victoria Dock is now home to the Excel Centre, Siemens sustainability pavilion and one end of the cable car, but it also has plenty of historical interest. 
  • If public transport isn't your thing, you might like the custom and classic vehicles at London Motor Museum

Museums

Horniman Museum


Places of worship

Westminster Cathedral

The Thames

Thames Tunnel


Industry

Kirkcaldy Testing Works

Hospitality

Wilton's Music Hall

Miscellaneous
  • Learn all about London with the treasures of Guildhall Library
  • Sands Films in Rotherhithe has occasional open days, and a weekly film club. 
  • See the Tower of London long after most visitors have gone home, and witness the ancient Ceremony of the Keys
  • One of the best views of London comes from a Wren building: the Monument. It's quite a climb, but you do get a certificate for completing it!
  • Around the corner from Trafalgar Square, Craven Street is a little haven of eighteenth-century history with plenty of traces of former residents - not least Benjamin Franklin whose museum is here. 
  • At the other end of Pall Mall is London's only Art Nouveau memorial
  • Find out about the legal system at the Supreme Court.
  • Eltham Palace is an arresting blend of mediaeval and Art Deco, set in attractive gardens. 
  • Don't miss the chance to use London's most elegant cashpoint

Eltham Palace

Guides


5 comments:

Hels said...

What a super list. It would take an entire summer holiday to make a dent in that list :)

Of the places I know well, I think I would choose 19 Princelet St Spitalfields as my favourite. Firstly it is a Huguenot silk weaver's house, secondly it was a Victorian synagogue and thirdly it is now a museum of immigration. My three favourite topics.

Of the places I have never visited, the Horniman Museum looks impressive and the gardens and garden architecture looks pretty cool.

secretlondon said...

That's really great, I will definitely be checking some of those out soon. :)

Elaine said...

Ooh! Thank you, love this sort of stuff =)

Dakota Boo said...

I'm a big urban wanderer, mainly London, so was delighted to find this blog with a whole array of new places for me to visit. Thanks :-)

Dan0rak said...

I love your blog. More suggestions include the chapel at Biggin Hill airfield, which also has a Spitfire and a Hurricane mounted on pedestals outside (320 and 246 buses from Bromley South stop outside). Also the Crystal Palace remains, and the Wembley remains of the 1924 Empire exhibition. And the Museum of London in Docklands (nr Canary Wharf station).