7 weird tourist attractions in London

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In a city like London, you’ll never be stuck for things to see or do – it’s had a 1,000 years to build up an impressive back catalogue. But alongside its castles, bridges, towers, wheels and palaces, London has its fair share of, well, weird attractions. Here are seven off-kilter sights to enrich your London experience.

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The London Nose

Hiding in plain sight in Trafalgar Square on Admiralty Arch is a strange addition – a life-sized sculpted nose half way up one of the arch walls. Some think it’s a spare in case Nelson, up on his column, loses his, but other theories suggest they’re an artistic protest against the nosey parker CCTV surveillance cameras installed. But in truth, who nose?

London’s smallest house 10 Hyde Park Place, Marble Arch Keeping it small-scale, this house is only three and a half feet wide, and now part of the Tyburn Convent. Behind its façade though is just an alleyway on the ground floor and a very tidy bathroom on the first floor. It’s said to have been built as a watch house in 1805 facing to block access to St George’s graveyard – and keep an eye on ghoulish body snatchers…

Sewer lamp

Carting Lane, WC2

Not that long ago, before flushing toilets and domestic running water, London’s human waste was serviced by a sewer system – well, it was a step up from emptying chamber pots into the street. One of the more inventive by-products of this was lamps powered by the resulting methane gas. This one, near the Savoy Hotel would have shone brightly on busy nights, thanks to the old farts frequenting the establishment.

The last methane powered lamp in London, insert own fart joke!

A photo posted by Heidi Von Swan (@heidivonswan) on

The Wellcome Collection

183 Euston Road, London, NW1

The Wellcome Collection is a relatively new addition to London’s more ‘interesting’ destinations. It’s a free museum that opened in 2007, and features all manner of medical and social history exhibits, images and artefacts. Alongside Victorian remedies and medical apparatus you’ll find porcelain miniatures of a more erotic and perhaps lewd nature in the Institute of Sexology exhibition, open until September 2015. Oh, you’ll also find Napoleon’s toothbrush there, if you were interested in his dental hygiene at all.

Alright guys, it's time to come home. I've seen everything now. #WelcomeCollection #London

A photo posted by Jesse (@jessewoods107) on

The Ambassadors

The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square

Hans Holbein was one popular painter in 16th century London, and this portrait of the French Ambassador to Henry VIII and the Bishop of Lavuar is full of obscure symbolism, but beyond these perplexing items is an extraordinary anamorphic skull at the base of the picture. From front on, it looks like a smear, but when viewed from a certain angle (crouch down at the right hand corner of the painting and look up), it’s a skull. Those crazy Renaissance painters!

The Horniman Museum

100 London Road, London SE23

This free museum chock-full of curious anthropological exhibits is best known for its enormous – and overstuffed – walrus dating from Victorian times. Legend claims it was stuffed by a taxidermist who had never seen a live walrus. That didn’t stop Queen Victoria being more than amused by it. One wonders, however, what she would think of another exhibit at the Horniman – something that appears to be a merman, or half-fish, half Gollum-like creature. Precious indeed…

The boss #walrus #overstuffed #hornimanmuseum #london

A photo posted by Holly (@be_seeing_you) on

Earls Court Police Box

236 Earls Court Road W.8, London, Earl’s Court SW5

Back in the early 1960s, Londoners had these handy police boxes to make emergency calls for police assistance. They were so common that the then-new BBC science fiction TV series Doctor Who chose to disguise the time travelling space ship, the TARDIS, as a police box. They’ve virtually disappeared now, and today, most people know these blue boxes as TARDISes. This one appeared in 1996, and in fact, the reborn TV series referenced it, and Google Maps has an Easter Egg on its page, which takes you inside the impossibly large control room.

And there you have, from smallest to largest, seven of London’s more bizarre attractions.

(Featured image: paulcox72)

7 weird tourist attractions in London was last modified: April 27th, 2016 by Tim Hunter
Author: Tim Hunter (6 posts)

Tim is a Melbourne based writer with a soft spot for film, arts, good coffee, fine food, Doctor Who and the sun. He’s been to the Big Five: New York, London, Paris, Berlin and Rome, and has also travelled to Venice, New Zealand, Thailand, Hong Kong and Bali. Oh and Cardiff (there was no sun there, alas). On his To Do list is a Mediterranean trip including Spain, Malta, Greece, Turkey and Israel, and eastern Europe, including The Sound of Music Tour in Salzburg. That’s on everyone’s list, isn’t it?