There’s a museum for every hobby, and best of all, a lot of them cost less than you’d expect. For music lovers there is Handel House Museum
(£6) in Mayfair, former home of the composer and in later years, Jimi Hendrix. Kew’s Musical Museum
(£8) has instruments that pre-date the digital age, with a particularly interesting collection of organs, including a Wurlitzer.
There’s perhaps a surprisingly large amount of museums relating to medicine in some form or another. The Old Operating Theatre Museum
(£6.20) is, as the name suggests, devoted to an operating theatre, the oldest in Europe in fact. It’s of special interest because it’s located in the roof of a church. The Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum
(£4) has a reconstruction of the lab where Fleming discovered penicillin; meanwhile the Florence Nightingale Museum
(£5.80) pays homage to the famous military nurse with a collection that marks achievements like managing hospitals during the Crimean War and setting up the very first nursing school at St. Thomas’.
While we’re on the subject of war, Firepower (£5.30) displays artillery and weapons manufactured by the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, some of which are hundreds of years old. There’s a firing range too should you wish to test your shooting skills.
One of England’s oldest prisons (and perhaps the most notorious) is open to the public; the Clink Prison Museum
(£7.50) operated for nearly 600 years during which it saw all manner of prisoners, from political traitors to prostitutes.
On a more salubrious note, Sutton House (£3.50) is a pretty Tudor house in the heart of Hackney, and the Garden Museum
(£7.50) explains the history of the garden and of course has its own example of beautifully maintained greenery.
The Sherlock Holmes Museum
(£8), the London Fire Brigade Museum
(£5) and Pollock’s Toy Museum
(£6) are of particular interest to younger family members; in the case of the Fire Brigade Museum children can try on firemen outfits, while the Toy Museum has china dolls, mechanical toys and puppets, some of which are over 100 years old.
The Freud Museum
(£6), the former home of Sigmund Freud has his many books and antiques (he was a keen collector) on display. Charles Dickens’ old residence can also be explored at Dickens’ House
(£8). Although the novelist only lived here for two years this is where he wrote Oliver Twist.