A visit to historic London with family history on your mind – is, some might suggest, not complete without a visit to the Museum of London. I am glad that I have spent a few days here at least to get a feel for the place, before visiting the museum this weekend.
Because of time restraints, I chose not to the view their current major exhibition, “Doctors, Dissection and Resurrection Men”; exploring the relationship between the 19th century body snatchers and the surgeons they supplied.
The free museum, with a suggested £5 donation as an entry fee, starts off with a “pre-history” section describing archeological dig finds and the interpretations of these discoveries more than 2,000 years ago when the city that we now know was vaguely the River Thames surrounded by marshland.
Diverse exhibits and galleries describe life in Roman times, Victorian London and the swinging 60s era, the plague of London in 1665 and the Great Fire of 1666. Interesting objects include the Lord Mayor’s State Coach constructed in 1757, and the exquisite Fanshawe dress I heard described as a life size tea cosy (but certainly more elegant) from 1752.
The museum is located near the historic London Wall, which dates to the time of the Roman Empire. The museum illustrates its history in a digital display.
I was disappointed to miss, by days, the Michael Caine exhibition, which is to open in time for his 80th birthday. The actor spent much of his early life in London, reflected in his autobiographies including The Elephant to Hollywood, which after my visit here I might have to read again.
The museum website describes well the objects in its collection, as well as provides advice for research and what is available in the library’s collection. The Sainsbury Archive relates to the history of the supermarket since 1869. A search of this and the Museum’s wider collection can be made at their search facility.