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Venture off the tourist trail to see some of the most interesting London attractions

Published: Monday 25th of February 2013

There are plenty of fantastic London attractions to explore on a trip to the capital, but many of the most interesting places to visit are somewhat off the beaten track, meaning that some tourists may never have heard of them.

The Fan Museum

The Fan Museum brings back to life an old art form that is largely forgotten. While fans were once used to keep people cool, they were also the medium used for many artists to express themselves on.

Visitors to the Fan Museum will find that it is located in two grade II listed buildings – which is appealing in itself. These houses, dating from the 1720s, have been sensitively restored to their former grandeur, allowing visitors to view the fans in the stunning surroundings similar to those they would have been featured in during their heyday.

The museum does not simply just show off fans, it also gives the history and context of each of its collections, providing a new way for history buffs to look at the past. Both the status and practical use of the fans is taken into consideration, as well as the fact that their purpose has changed dramatically over the course of history.

As well as a permanent collection, the museum often puts on temporary exhibitions which study the fans from many different perspectives.

Pollock’s Toy Museum

Pollock’s Toy Museum is a delightful tourist attraction which allows visitors to step back in time and get a glimpse into the lives of the children of the past.

It is named after Benjamin Pollock, who was a famous printer of toy theatres in the Victorian era. These ‘paper theatres’ were most popular in the 1800s. Children would use them to stage their own productions at home, with many of these pieces showing off an incredible level of detail.

The museum is famed for its collection of traditional English toy theatres, but it also has an extensive selection of other toys. It names board games, optical, mechanical and construction toys, English tin toys and puppets among its collection. There are also wax and composition dolls, teddy bears, china dolls, lead miniatures, doll’s houses and folk toys from Europe on show.

The Old Operating Theatre Museum

This tourist attraction is a great one for people who are into anything a bit gruesome – but it also comes with a great dose of history.

Visitors will have to climb to the roof of St Thomas’ Church in order to access the attraction – but it is well worth the walk! This 300-year-old herb garret houses an operating theatre from the days before anaesthesia was a viable option. It features a wooden operating table and observation stands, where spectators would sit to witness surgeries.

The operating theatre used to be attached to St Thomas’ Hospital, and placing it in the Herb Garret gave it separation from the ward, as well as having a different entrance for medical students. Until 1846 no anaesthetics were used, and surgeons instead depended on swift technique, alcohol or opiates to dumb the patient’s senses, as well as their mental preparation.

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