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Unusual London Travel Sites

Ms. Inglish has 30 years experience in medicine, psychology, STEM instruction, history, and aerospace education for USAF Civil Air Patrol.

Unusual Visits To London

My Top 10 List of things to do in London is not the usual cup of British tea, but it makes for an interesting set of experiences.

I particularly like these places, because part of my family originated in England, near the London area. From the early to mid-1600s in the Colonies, the family traces back to the Tyrells, a surname with several spellings.

The name Tyrell means Thunder Ruler. One branch of the family is distantly related to the Royal Stuarts and current descendants may wear a dress dagger with a Stuart crest upon its hilt when they are in full kit (Scottish or Irish Kilt and accessories).


1. Genealogical Records

Those interested researchers who come to a dead end in America when looking for their family histories can often have success when they look across the sea.

The Society of Genealogists in London is located at

14 Charterhouse Buildings, Goswell Rd, London EC1M 7BA, United Kingdom

The organization advertises on its website that it houses thousands of records that can be found nowhere else in the world.

Family history websites have provided free access to users at the society and these websites include,,, The society has purchased subscriptions to additional sites as well. A bank of computers is available and Wi-Fi access is free.

This research society offers free 30-minute advice sessions on tracing family histories on every other Saturday. Advice is also available by phone.

The Herb Garret at the Old Opertorium

The Herb Garret at the Old Opertorium

2. The Operating Theater For Women

Old Wren Church, 9 St. Thomas Street, SE1

This operating room was first constructed for the hospital known as Guy's and Thomas's Hospital. Florence Nightingale is said to have worked in this operating theater. There is also a wonderful her garret attached to the operating theater and the herbs have been used in health and medicine for centuries.

The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret features the history of the Old Operating Theatre in Southwark, near London Bridge. This is one of the most important historical sites for the advancement of medical, surgical and Victorian history in London and the UK.

3. Chelsea Physic Garden for Medicinal Plants

This garden is promoted as the second botanical garden built in England in order to produce medicinal remedies. Bees are also kept and honey produced -- also a good natural remedy and preventative.

An Uncle of mine in America kept bees and this skill was handed down through the generations from England.

4. National Maritime Museum

This fascinating site is found in Greenwich: London SE10 9NF.

This is a large campus of exhibits that include over 2,000,000 items and artifacts from seafaring days and UK astronomy history. The collection seems to take the visitor from before the Tall Ship through time to the International Space Station.

Scroll to Continue

Favorite lines from Sea Fever, by John Masefield

I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by...

And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,

And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying...

To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife...

Psalm 107:23-25

They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;

These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.

(public domain)

Talking Portraits - National Maritime Musuem

5. The British Museum

This museum may not be unusual to residents, but many Americans find it to be so. It is located at Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG.

The British Museum contains a huge complex of exhibits, including Cleopatra's mummy and the Rosetta Stone. These are artifacts from nearly the beginning of recorded time and language.

Wonders of the world are housed in this museum's exhibits. The Elgin marbles, the Pantheon marble statuary, are said to be breathtaking. Please see photos below for a look at a few of the marble statues.

6. University College And Museum Of Archeaology

Locations include

  • University College London; Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT
  • UCL's Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology; Malet Place, London WC1E 6BT

The University College of London actually houses several museums and I would like to suggest starting with the Egyptian Archaeology Museum and follow with a visit to the Art Collections, Museum of Zoology, and the Ethnographic Collection.

A tour of the full campus would be extraordinary.

Exhibit: Trevithick's steam circus

Exhibit: Trevithick's steam circus

7. Sherlock Holmes Museum of Baker Street

The Sherlock Holmes Museum is found at 221b Baker Street; London and is open every day of the year, except Christmas.

When Arthur Conan Doyle wrote his first set of Holmes cases, London had no 221b Baker street, because the street was quite short. Today, the address fits the stories.

What hooked me and many other readers on the original Holmes cases were a set of old radio episodes. Listened to by a little boy that grew up to transcribe the stories into book format, the stories have gained eve more interest worldwide. London celebrates Holmes with other museums as well, and Baker Street subway station is decorated with Holmes montages.

Holmes Quotes

  • In my profession all sorts of odd knowledge comes useful, and this room of yours is a storehouse of it.
  • Education never ends, Watson. It is a series of lessons, with the greatest for the last.

The Crime Museum at Scotland Yard would be a good addition to this visit; unfortunately, it is no longer open to the public. It does provide exhibits to other museums around London occasionally.

Sherlock Holmes is unusual in that he is a fictional character that many people think is, or was, a real life figure. Pop culture is full of his cases and biographies, as well as pastiche and even reboots in literature and film.

Basil Rathbone as Holmes

Basil Rathbone as Holmes

8. Evensong at Westminster Abbey

Many visitors enjoy viewing the architecture of and listening to the bells of Westminster Abbey, but not all know about the musical performances offered.

Evensong is a worship service held in the evenings at the abbey, built in 1065.

The choir that sings at these services is made up of Choristers actually educated in choral music and voice at the Westminster Abbey Choir School. It would make for a very refreshing and renewing time before dinner at a fine London restaurant. Choir performances occur:

  • 5pm Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays
  • 3pm Saturdays and Sundays.

From Princess Diana's Funeral: The King of Love

9. Covent Garden Markets

Wandering around the Covent Garden District of the West End for at least a day is an experience we do not have in America. Some American malls have fallen into disrepair or attacked by violent crime, but Covent Garden is still a relaxing and fun place to be. It has developed into a modern lifestyles center with many different shops, services, and amenities.

The markets moved to New Covent Garden Market, London SW8 5DZ, UK.

10. Parliament and Criminal Court

  • House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
  • House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW

This may be one of the more usual places that tourists visit, but since American law was based on English law, I suggest visiting here and the Central Crime Court of the Old Bailey, which is more unusual. .Visit the Parliament Archives and perhaps listen to debates in the houses.

If you have an interest in Sir John Mortimer's Rumpole of the Bailey series, do visit the court:

Central Criminal Court: Old Bailey; London EC4M 7EH

Liverpool Street Station, London. From London via Liverpool Station to NYC.

Liverpool Street Station, London. From London via Liverpool Station to NYC.

After visiting these ten intriging places to see, and many other fascinating and important sights in London, I would like to do one last thing in London - to end my trip with a train journey from London to Liverpool, where my great great grandfather and his brothers set sail for Ellis Island and a new life in America.

I would then like to sail back home.


Sea Fever - "...a tall ship...and a star..."

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2008 Patty Inglish MS

Experiences, Comments and Information

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on September 27, 2020:

Happy travels!

Danijela from Serbia on September 26, 2020:

It is a very interesting article about London. When I come to London one day, I will visit these places. Thanks for your information!

Marcy Bialeschki from Cerro Gordo, IL on April 25, 2020:

I am taking a trip to London next summer. I love reading about unusual places to go and sights to see. Interesting. Thanks!

Carrie Lee Night from Northeast United States on April 20, 2020:

Wonderful hub :) I always wanted to pay a visit to London, but never quite got there yet. Keep the tea warm and the scones buttery :) Have a wonderful week :)

ThomasBrown99 from London on January 28, 2012:

Thanks Dear....

crockpotcooking on November 29, 2011:

I was in London for only four days, 2 years ago. Can not wait to go again, but seems not so likely soon.

I visited British Museum, Science Museum and Greenwich Observatory, unfortunately did not have time to visit Maritime Museum.

I would recommend Science Museum (Kensington I think).

John Nixon on April 04, 2011:

In London there are an excellent places to see. Thanks for this informative post.

Descartes from grand prairie on December 05, 2010:

London is a wonderful city and this is a great list of things do while there.

Laura on November 11, 2010:

What a good capture of London activities…Shopping is also interesting and different. One should try that too…

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on February 14, 2010:

Thanks for all the new comments.

[Note: spam links removed; especially those copying my list.]

kraji from Slovenia on December 08, 2009:

I was only one time in London and I see that there is still remain a lot of things to see. From your list I saw only Covent Garden and British Museum. :) So thank you for other ideas for next trip!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 06, 2009:

Thanks for all the lovely comments; I do so want to come over for a visit. Choirs and Museums are so fascinating and enjoyable.

Moon Daisy from London on October 06, 2009:

You have a very interesting family history, and researching it further is a very good reason for coming here! I have to admit, although I've lived in London most of my life I've only been to three places on your list!

The British Museum is great. It's a place we were taken to on school trips, but I went there again a few years ago. There are so many interesting things in there, including the mummies and the Rosetta Stone.

Covent Garden used to be my second home (well, almost!) I worked around the corner from there and used to go and hang out there most lunch times, looking at the shops and watching the buskers (street performers). It has a really nice atmosphere.

And I visited Parliament a few times through work. I used to work in the civil service and we had a couple of professional visits there. It was sooo interesting, the whole experience makes you feel as if you've stepped back in time! And the building and architecture is very beautiful and dramatic.

Very nice hub. I hope you manage to make your trip!

Bostonian Banter on September 01, 2009:

Just love Westminster and the choirs. Hearing them live even more so. Thanks!

Tony Sky from London UK on February 24, 2009:

Yes! real crumpets!! from a real shop!! lol

Hi Patty..

I have just been asked this question about best places to visit, and came across this hub again, so will email it to them..


Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on January 27, 2009:

This is really useful information - Thanks, LondonGirl!

LondonGirl from London on January 25, 2009:

England and Wales:

"A full set of GRO Indexes is available at the following locations :

Greater Manchester County Record Office

Birmingham Central Library

Bridgend Reference and Information Library

Plymouth Central Library

City of Westminster Archives Centre

These indexes are also available at the National Archives at Kew.

Copies of GRO Indexes may also be held at:

some libraries

family history societies

local record offices *

The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints family history centres

* Some organisations may not hold a complete set of indexes; generally, holders will have indexes that cover the 19th century. A small fee may be charged by some of these organisations and it may be advisable in some instances to book in advance as there is often high demand for their use.

GRO Indexes are also available on the internet. Again a small fee may be charged by some websites."

Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths began in Scotland on the 1st January, 1855. Civil records of these are held in Edinburgh and in local registrars' offices. GRO and OPR indexes have been available online 1998. Indexes are available for births and / or christenings from 1553 to 1908, marriages from 1553 to 1933, and deaths 1855 to 1958. (As of Jan. 2009 - a later year is added each year).

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on January 25, 2009:

Thanks for the information; I must look up Islington on my map and get the address as well.

LondonGirl from London on January 24, 2009:

When you are in Westminster Abbey, you are in the Church of England - most definintely not Rome!

The National ARrchives are one good source of material, but not the main one for generalogy. For that, you want the Family Records place in Islington.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on July 05, 2008:

That's a wise idea.

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on July 05, 2008:

I play it by ear in an unfamilair church. If there are padded benches near the floor, then I know kneeling is expected. Otherwise I take my cue from the regulars. 'When in Rome'...

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 26, 2008:

Let's all go to London together. It would be a lot of fun.

Lissie -- The US still has a lot of Catholic churches in which kneeling is part of services and several other denominations have a bit less kneeling; then, we have several wher people kneel on their own and even lie prostrate face down. So I don't know why American tourists would not kneel. I kneel when visitng other churches. Perhaps some Americans are into "spectating" - just watching really and won't kneel? The acoustics sound as though they are fabulous!

donnaleemason from North Dakota, USA on May 25, 2008:

Wow! Would you like some company. I liked the maritime museum but then the next item caught my eye then the next and Westminster Abbey looked absolutely beautiful.

Elisabeth Sowerbutts from New Zealand on May 25, 2008:

I lived in London for over 9 months and still didn't see it all! the maritime museaum is great you can walk up the hill to grenwich prime meridian and then go under the Thames thru a Victorian tunnel and come up at super moden Canery Warf! st Pauls is definitly worth giong to a sung evensong too: Im not religious but tourists seem to forget these are places of worship: Iwas lucky didn't know the sung version was so early (3pm?) the vergers hearded everyone out and those that stayed were in the choir with the doors closed ilke a wooden church inside a huge space fantastic acoustics. Couldn't get over the fact that the mainly American tourists wouldn't kneel at the given spots itn the liturgy - its not that they couldn't follow the service (its all over the place in the old prayer book ! ) but there were people who knew ie the choir, opposite, to follow: is kneeling not part of the mainstream Christian religion in the US? Its stuck in mind that and its nearly 20 years ago!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 25, 2008:

How wonderfull, JamaGenee! - It has begun to haunt me for th elast year or so, and I have never been there yet. What a good time and lasting experience you have had! I enjoy reading about it.

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on May 25, 2008:

Patty, the irony is I had NO intention of visiting London! As I avoid large cities like the plague, the plan was to board a bus or train at Heathrow and toddle off to the West Country to see places an ancestor lived before sailing for Massachusetts Bay in 1635. But friends insisted London HAD to be on the itinerary, and I'm ever glad they did. I forget who said 'London will haunt you forever', but it DOES. It's also THE most visitor-friendly metropolitan city on the planet. With your inquiring mind, I have no doubt you'll enjoy every minute you're there.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 24, 2008:

JamaGenee - I appreciate your comments and desciptions so much that I feel I have already been to London. Although I had heard of the National Archives, I was lost as to their exact whereabouts, so thank you tremendously for that information. I shall curely go to the pub that you suggest as well.

And do write a London Hub as well, I look forward to reading it -- I am your new fan. :)

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on May 24, 2008:

First on your list was "anyplace that has genealogical records". That would be the National Archives in Kew, Richmond, Surrey. Don't let the address fool you, Richmond is what Americans call a "suburb" of London. The NA has a wonderful website with tons of information about their holdings, hours, etc:

I was thrilled to see Chelsea Physic Garden on your list. This is one of London's "hidden treasures", but DO explore the rest of Chelsea while you're in the neighborhood! The Royal Hospital for one, also the Cheyne Walk (along the Thames), Chelsea Old Church, to name only a few.

Any of the regularly scheduled services at Westminster Abbey are open to the public...and FREE. Never did get to an Evensong...and btw, that's a great pix of WA in the fog, one I hadn't seen before...but I did attend on a Sunday morning. Pretty much a waste as far as the religious aspect because I was too busy being awed by the statuary, monuments, and a thousand years of history all around me. :)

Before visiting 221b Baker Street, you should check out Sherlock Holmes's study at the pub of the same name in Northumberland Street, just off Trafalgar Square. The artifacts there were donated by Conan Doyle's family.

You'll find that no photo of Tower Bridge does it justice. It is inarguably THE MOST beautiful and majestic bridge in London...took my breath away.

Last, but by no means least, the Museum of London is a MUST SEE. It's chronicles the the history of London from the beginning right up through the present. Alas, it was not on my itinerary when I went, but will be next time.

I could go on and on about other "must visit" sites in London, but will save them for a hub of my own! :)

einron from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA on May 20, 2008:

Thanks Patty. It was a pleasure reading your hub. The Lord God has been very good to me. Without His blessings, I would not have encountered all those experiences.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 20, 2008:

O, what a happy time it must have been lving there! I am simply enchanted by your experiences, einron. Thanks so much for posting them here. I;ve joined your fan club - you've made England even more real to me.

einron from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA on May 20, 2008:

It makes me feel nostalgic for I have lived in London on two occasions for three years before migrating to Canada. I have visited many of the places you mentioned. I had lunch with Peter Pitman's father (Pitman's College) in the Houses of Parliament and ran up Big Ben with him. I was out of breath!

I have been as far north as Elgin (Scotland) and as south as Southampton. I saw the queen in Windsor Castle less than 10 feet away. She was beautiful and watched her riding on a horse at her birthday parade, (Trooping the Colours). Who can forget?

It was a real treat working in Selfridges on summer vacation! I even had a permanent job at King's College working for Prof. James Greig, Head of Electrical Engineering until I came to Canada.

Those were the days of yore!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 19, 2008:

Ooh - real crumpets! :)

Tony Sky from London UK on May 19, 2008:

Yes Patty, we are both soo near here yet soo far in reality!

PS..i do great crumpets with tea:)

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 18, 2008:

compu-smart!!! - YOU are in London too! ANOTHER GOOD FRIEND IN LONDON. I really must read the profiles more carefully, with an eye to where folks reside. This all makes me very happy!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 18, 2008:

Woody! - I've heard of that actor in The Case of the Silk Stockings and will look it up. Thanks for reminding me. I was so sad when Jeremy Brett died! But, if Brett and Rathbone were is the same room, my mind could not take it form being confused! Brett probably perfected the brooding followed by sudden outbursts, though; that was incredible.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 18, 2008:

wannabeewwestern - Thanks for your experiences here! The British Musuem sounds like a place I will to want to leave.

I am writing about the things that have been in my mind for 15 years. That is how, sometimes, Frank Lloyd Wright drew his architectural plans and blueprints - thinking about something for a long time while doing other things, and then the project emerges as if it is living on its own. :)

Thanks for commenting!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 18, 2008:

William! - Thanks a million for those links. You're my hero!

Tony Sky from London UK on May 18, 2008:

Excellent hub Patty!! yes, tell everyone how great London is and come visit me for a cup of tea too;)

Woody Marx from Ontario, Canada on May 18, 2008:

Very pleased to read about Jeremy Brett from a fellow-fan. He WAS Holmes...or as near as anyone is likely to get anytime soon. But we can always hope! I do know of one BBC dvd called "The Case of The Silk Stockings" where the young actor playing Holmes, sorry I forget his name, is very impressive. You may want to find that one and see what you think. :)

Carolyn Augustine from Iowa on May 17, 2008:

I loved your hub. We were military "brats" living in England in the early 80's and had opportunities to visit London several times. I was stunned by my experience in the British Museum and became obsessed with learning about 4,000 year-old mummies and Egyptian culture. The Rosetta Stone was there when we visited. This hub was richly informative! How do you manage to write so many!

William F Torpey from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on May 17, 2008:

I found some information that I believe will interest you, Patty.

You can hear "The Black Museum" and Orson Welles at this site:

And here's more information about it:

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 17, 2008:

William, this is so exciting to hear about your experiences. I wonder if "Tales from the Black Museum" is available on tape; I must look. How interesting that you wrtoe about John Masefield - his lines were perfect for this Hub. So pleased you visited and made your wonderful comments.

William F Torpey from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on May 17, 2008:

A very interesting and enjoyable hub, Patty. It's always fun looking into family history, especially as one gets older. Reading about John Masefield was especially exciting for me. I wrote a biographical sketch of the Poet Laureate when I was in high school in the '50s. I still love to listen, and watch, Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce portraying Sherlock Holmes. Scotland Yard's Crime Museum inspired the radio series starring Orson Welles titled "Tales from the Black Museum." The name Black Museum was given to it by a reporter from The Observer in 1877. Thanks for a great adventure into London.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 17, 2008:

Thanks for the comments, freeligitmoney and MM Del Rosario! These musuems would be very intersting I think.

MM Del Rosario from NSW, Australia on May 17, 2008:

One day when I retire I will for sure visit London ... thanks for sharing this with us Patty. i love Museums

freelegitmoney on May 17, 2008:

Great hub and nice photos.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 17, 2008:

Thanks, amy jane! - I'm glad you like the stories and the Hub. Truly, I must see these places in the future.

Hi In The Doghouse! - It sounds like you have a very happy time in UK.

VocationVacations is a company that sets up vacations in other places for eople to work at a job they may thing they want to do. They take a vacation from their own job and go off for two weeks or more to work at something else, somewhere else. That could be a good way to do it. And then write about the expericne - 6 months would be good.

Thanks for commenting!!

In The Doghouse from California on May 17, 2008:


An awesome Hub! You have expounded on precisely my London trip with your first pick. I searched graveyards and libraries, court documents and records... I had the time of my life. I did however, see some of the tourist sights also, but the highlight of my trip was in searching for my ancestors. Although extremely expensive because of the dollar rate, it is a must see place, at least once in your lifetime... I know you will go! Great ideas of places to see.

amy jane from Connecticut on May 17, 2008:

Patty, I loved this hub and reading the story of your ancestors. Your tourist picks are very interesting and not the most common destinaitons - I like that too :) Great hub! I hope you get to go soon!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 16, 2008:

solarshingles - it will be absolutely grand!!!

funnebone - that is so FUNNY!! I'm about 1/8 French, so it's ok for me to do that - yes, no? hahahahahahahah :) I have to be your fan too now.

funnebone from Philadelphia Pa on May 16, 2008:

You left out throwing rocks towards France!

solarshingles from london on May 16, 2008:

Thanks Patty! Looking forward to have nice time and loads of laugh in London and around its wonderful and amazing attractions.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 16, 2008:

Afternoon Tea would be such a treat - it would be so much fun, solarshingles! - Now