> Read Craig’s review of the Museum of London Check out my London blog for a full review, with photos
Fire! Fire! Great Fire of London exhibition –
The Museum of London is the world’s largest city history museum. It started life in 1912 in the glorious surrounds of Kensington Palace, until a better premises was built in the Barbican Centre.
The London before London gallery tells the story of the city before it was even there. It details early dwellings and archaeological finds dug up from the Thames – at a time when the population numbered under fifty. You can see over 300 objects that were left on the bed to please the gods, including bronze tools and iron swords.
You can also meet the oldest-ever Londoner – a 5,500-year-old skeleton.
The second gallery concentrates on Roman London – the mighty Londinium. It sprung up in 50 AD as a means to link Colchester with the rest of the country.
Pride of place goes to the Temple of Mithras. This was dug up in 1954 and moved to its present location ten years later. You can also see a 4th-century coffin of a young Roman lady, and reconstructed Roman pavement.
This gallery covers the 5th-century AD to 1500 – a stretch of time that covers the Viking hordes, the Norman Conquest and several wars with Scotland.
William the Conqueror, Geoffrey Chaucer and Thomas Becket are some of the names that get an airing.
The Tudor and Stuart gallery runs from 1485 to 1666. Read about Henry VIII and his umpteen wives. Find out about Charles I, Oliver Cromwell and the English Civil War. There is also a reconstruction of Shakespeare’s famous playhouse – now built for real at the Globe.
Don’t miss the Great Fire Experience – a working model of the Great Fire of London with narration from Samuel Pepys’ diary. You can watch London rise from the ashes with the original maps and documents of the damage, and rebuilding plans under Christopher Wren.
The 17th and early 18th-century saw London blossom into a centre of scientific learning. You can read about the Guilds and Corporation that ran The City – with clothes and goods from the period.
One of the museum’s most impressive exhibits is the Lord Mayor’s coach. Built in 1757, this gilded trap is covered in carvings and painted panels by the Florentine artist Cipriani. It is still used every year in the Lord Mayor’s parade.
The World City gallery is by far the largest in the museum – covering the boom in population from one to seven million.
Read about Queen Victoria and the Great Exhibition. There is also a life-size reconstruction of a Victorian street, complete with shop fronts and lamplights.
Recent announcements have revealed that the Museum of London is moving to Smithfield Market in 2021.
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