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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).

london-activities

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 Ancestry.co.uk, Ancestry.com, Familyrelatives.com, Findmypast.co.uk. 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.

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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.

london-activities

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..

Thanks!

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