See another side to London at eight of its most unusual tourist attractions

3. Best for those with eclectic tastes: Horniman Museum and Gardens

Towering totem poles and colourful cycle-rickshaws, Spanish Inquisition torture chairs and Uzbek wedding dresses, Rio carnival costumes and Yoruba divination rattles, sperm whale teeth and stuffed three-toed sloths: the Horniman has perhaps the most eclectic collection of any museum in the capital.

Founded in 1890 by Frederick Horniman, a wealthy tea trader, social reformer and Liberal Party MP who gathered countless pieces of art, artefacts and specimens from across the globe, it aimed to “bring the world to [the London district of] Forest Hill”.

Today, the Horniman has around 350,000 exhibits and, commendably, the curators make efforts to address the colonial connections of many of the items on display. There are internationally important ethnographic, musical instrument and natural history collections. The latter features an array of animal skeletons, replicas and taxidermy, including the museum’s most famous resident: the Horniman Walrus, an over-stuffed, unnaturally smooth creature perched on top of a model iceberg in the centre of the gallery.

There’s also an aquarium, butterfly house and “animal walk” with alpacas, rabbits and sheep, while the surrounding gardens feature rare and endangered flowering plants from the North America prairies and South African grasslands. You can even find “living fossils” – plant species that have survived for millennia. Most of the Horniman is free to enter, but you have to pay visit the aquarium, butterfly house and some temporary exhibitions.

Neighbourhood: Forest Hill
Address: 100 London Rd, SE23 3PQ
Phone number: 020 8699 1872

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