You might have been to London a hundred and one times before and are tired of doing the same old things, or you might be a first-time visitor to the city but prefer exploring places in a less conventional manner. Either way, here is a brief guide to London at its quirkiest and most bizarre.
On the walls of Soho are seven noses which people walk by every day without even realising they exist. Sculptor Rick Buckley is responsible for most of them, after leaving casts of his nose around the area in 1966.
Dotted across London are statues wearing blue coats, these distinctive figures which hark back to the sixteenth century mark a charity school. Blue was the cheapest dye available for garments and was accordingly used for charity school children – so combine history and the fun of a treasure hunt into one by seeking out these striking statues.
Both sides of the Embankment are lined with secret lion heads sculpted by Timothy Butler, which keep watch over the River Thames. According to legend, London will flood if the lions drink.
Millions of Londoners and tourists cross Tower Bridge every day but few take notice of the cast iron chimney – perhaps because it is painted to blend in with the lamp posts. One of the few bridges in the world with a chimney, this particular example is a flue for a former guardhouse beneath one of the piers.
London is home to one of the smallest police stations in the world – and you can see it on the edge of Trafalgar Square. The police box was built to keep an eye on crowds and is now a cleaner’s store.
If you’re a big Dr Who fan, you can see a Tardis lookalike in several locations around the city – try Piccadilly Circus W1. Back in the day before mobile phones, members of the public who needed help or police out on the beat would speak to police stations via a chain of phones housed in blue boxes.
Who said museums have to be boring? If you’re not drawn to the 5,500 year old mummy in the British Museum (lovingly named Ginger), perhaps the National Army Museum can pique your interest – if only for the fact that three sections of the Berlin Wall stand just outside.
The British Optical Association College of Optometrists might also tempt those with a fondness for the bizarre. The museum is home to more than 12,000 vision-based paraphernalia, including Eskimo snow goggles, eyewear with famous owners and rare specimens. Visits by appointment only!
Any of the London walking tours will be well worth your while. All are brimming with weird and wonderful facts about a city where each building hides a secret, and the guides are absolutely fantastic, incredibly knowledgeable and sometimes charmingly eccentric themselves!
Take the quirk to another level by opting for a city walk with a twist: try the ghost walks, the Jack the Ripper tour and the Harry Potter walks. Whichever route you choose, even those familiar with London will leave with a completely new perspective.
If you’re looking for somewhere a bit out of the ordinary to stay, why not deviate from the standard hotel experience and try a stay in a serviced apartment? With all the home comforts you could possibly need - beautiful en-suites, fully fitted kitchens – you will not regret exploring the alternatives when it comes to first rate London accommodation.
Image courtesy of Doug8888 via Flickr.
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