Three London Questions No.3
Where is London’s most unique museum?
12, Crooms Hill, Greenwich. The Fan Museum is the only one of its kind in the world, and has over 4,000 fans, on display in a Georgian house with an orangery and a Japanese-style garden. The earliest fans go back to 3,000BC, but the oldest on display here is 11th century. One has a built-in repair kit, and another doubles as a bonnet. Fans can be made to order here, and they run fan-making worships, as well as serving tea in the orangery. How civilised!
Where could you sell your wife?
In Portman Square. Here in 1833 a husband sold his wife for five shillings to a dustman, who carried her off. Wife-selling didn’t just occur in Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge’, it supposedly happened up and down the country at auctions, although it was not a legal method of divorce. In some cases the wife had already decided who was going to bid the highest for her.Hundreds of cases went unreported right up until the start of the 20th century!
How many museums are there in London?
It’s almost impossible to count them all because some just take up a single room, but there are reckoned to be over 300 museums in London. When I was a child there was a small museum upstairs in every library, but most of these have gone. Some of the more unusual ones include the Household Cavalry Museum, the Florence Nightingale Museum, the MCC Cricket Museum, the Ckockmakers’ Museum, the Royal Academy of Music Museum (although not the Handel Museum; that’s separate, on the top floor of the Foundling Museum), the Freud Museum and Goldfinger’s House. And no, I’ve only visited a fraction of them. My personal favourites are Leighton House (pictured), Dennis Severs’ House, the Wallace Collection and the Sir John Soane Museum, where ‘Bryant & May and the Invisible Code’ is partially set.