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.

4 comments on “Three London Questions No.3”

  1. Jo W says:

    My favourite museum was the Hornimans. A result perhaps of many school trips there. By the way,what became of the ‘fleeing Easter’ blog? A mystery for B&M maybe? Enjoy your break Mr.Fowler. Keep warm.

  2. Dan Terrell says:

    Love the above room. I have a string of Islamic prayer beads that would fit right in. Bet it is always cool inside that room. Running water, fountain, I hope.

  3. Vivienne says:

    I like the Museum of Brands and Packaging near Portobello Road. Recently I saw a box of Scott’s Porage Oats and thought the man on the front didn’t look nearly as strong and muscled as I remembered. It seems impossible to find the old pack on-line anywhere as it’s been blocked. So off I went to the museum where I was sure they had an old box. Yes, he has been ‘modernised’ and somehow his body doesn’t seem to fit together… I also learnt that the original was based on a real hero of the Scottish games.

  4. Helen Martin says:

    How do you worship fan making? I would like to visit that museum. The one at Greenwich is also a sort of clock museum because you can follow the attempts at building a clock that would keep proper time aboard ship. The longitude problem. Nothing like being married to a geographer and map freak to teach you an interest in such arcane things. I love the stories behind the designs on packaging. Now if I could only learn (although I just have to google it) why they spell it porage.

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