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Meet the stars at Madame Tussauds From Madame Tussauds Marylebone
Madame Tussaud was born in Strasbourg in 1761, and started out as a tutor to Louis XVI’s sister. When the French Revolution broke out she became an enemy of the people and spent her time making gruesome death masks for the victims of the guillotine.
When her associate Dr Phillipe Curtius died in 1794 she inherited his collection of wax models, and spent the next thirty three years exhibiting them around Europe.
She founded Madame Tussauds during a tour of Britain in 1835.
The museum originally contained around 400 waxwork models. Unfortunately fire damage in 1925 and German bombs in 1941, has destroyed most of these older models but the casts have survived, and you can see them in the museum’s history exhibit.
The oldest waxwork model on display is of Madame du Barry, a mistress of Louis XV. Other waxworks from the 19th-century include Robespierre, George III and Benjamin Franklin.
To make the models look as realistic as possible real human hair is glued onto their heads, which is then washed and styled by a hairdresser. One typical model takes around six months to complete, and costs in the region of £30,000.
You might be wondering what happens to the waxwork when the star’s fame has faded… well, they are promptly melted down and re-used for the next big thing. (Fame is very fickle friend!)
Have you ever wanted to have your photo taken next to Mohammad Ali? Or standing next to Arnold Schwarzenegger? Well now’s your chance. All of the waxworks are created life-size, and posed and dressed to look as real as possible.
You can find The Beatles sitting on a sofa and playing guitars… James Bond holding a Martini (shaken but not stirred, obviously)… Pele kicking a football… and even George Clooney looking suave and sophisticated.
The Grand Hall is where you’ll find all of the religious and political leaders, from the current President and Prime Minister, to historical figures like Ghandi and the Pope. A lot of the figures have been placed next to their contemporaries – and not always very sympathetically: Winston Churchill is standing next to an angry looking Hitler!
Keep an eye out for all the fake guests that have been propped up on the benches, and standing in the queues taking a photo… sometimes you’ll stand there waiting for them to finish, believing that they’re real!
The Chamber of Horrors is one of the most popular parts of the museum. That’s where you’ll find all the tortured victims, criminals and hoodlums, stalking the corridors of an abandoned prison. Loud banging and clanging and moody lighting enhances the scary atmosphere.
The Spirit of London Ride will take you on a time-travelling taxicab through 400-years of British history. You’ll get to experience all the sights (and smells) of Tudor London, the Great Fire of London, Industrial Revolution, pea-souper fogs… ending with a big Swinging Sixties knees-up outside Buckingham Palace.
> Read Craig’s review of Madame Tussauds “Madame Tussauds is something that Londoners are happy to leave to the tourists. If they want to spend forty minutes in the queue, thirty quid getting in, and two hours staring at a load of plastic people with goofy grins on their faces, then that’s up to them. I honestly don’t know why this place is so popular. Every time I catch a bus down the Euston Road I see a queue stretched out down the pavement with a couple of hundred people in it. The sun goes up and down while they’re waiting. Civilisations rise up and get conquered. Stars are born, mountains are formed, epochs come to a cataclysmic end. They come to London for seven days and probably spend six of them standing here. So that’s why you definitely need to buy your ticket online beforehand (trust me: you really do). You’ll get five quid knocked off the price and twenty minutes shaved off the tedious wait. The first room you enter is a big Hollywood-style shindig… continued.”
> Read Craig’s review of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! “This is a tourist trap. Don’t get trapped. End of review. It exists for one purpose only: to suck the money out of your wallet. Your kids will see it, want to go, want to visit, yeah yeah yeah, take us mum! take us dad! They’ll badger you until you relent… and two hours later they’ll come out sighing ‘that was rubbish’ and you’ll be ninety quid worse off and still have half a day of sightseeing ahead of you. And I’m not exaggerating about that price, either – if you buy your tickets on the door then you’ll be going home broke. The idea behind Ripley’s Believe It Or Not is quite appealing: it’s a museum of weird and wonderful objects from all around… continued.”
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If you enjoy the waxworks at Madame Tussauds then you’ll probably like Ripley’s in Piccadilly Circus as well. Young kids might like Shrek’s Adventure, whereas the older ones might prefer the London Dungeon. There are some more movie waxworks at the Warner Bros Studios (Harry Potter Tour). Or you could try the Sherlock Holmes Museum around the corner.
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