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Visit Britain’s Most Unusual Museums

Date: 26th October 2018
Author: Sarah Twist
Publisher: Darwin Escapes
Local Area

Have you ever wondered about where pencils come from? Or wanted to know more about Victorian operations? These unusual museums are for you…

We’ve all been to the famous museums including the Tate Modern and the National History Museum, but have you ever been to The Shoe Museum or the House of Marbles? Probably not, and you are missing out!

Darwin Escapes HQ has managed to find a list of Britain’s most unusual museums for you to visit and we’ve added the nearest DE accommodation to make your life easier too. Read on below to find out more about these fabulously quirky museums…

Derwent Pencil Museum

Keswick, CA12 5NG / Monday – Sunday / 9:30am – 5pm / Adult £4.95, Child £3.95

Did you know Keswick is the home of the very first pencil? The fun Pencil Museum documents the history of graphite and pencil’s humble beginnings, to the mammoth modern day production. The entrance to the museum has you walking through a replica graphite mine, it would have been the source of the pencil industry nearly 3 centuries ago. You’ll get to see one of the largest colour pencils in the world at 8 meters long, as well as the beautiful Queen’s diamond Jubilee pencil. Don’t miss the fine art shop, which offers workshops for all ages and relax in the coffee shop.

Nearest Accommodation: Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat / 30 mins away

The Old Operating Theatre

London Bridge, SE1 9RY / Tuesday – Sunday / 10:30am – 5pm / Adult £6.50, Child £3.50

Explore what Victorian surgery was like in the attic of the church inside the 18th Century St. Thomas Hospital, where you’ll get a wonderful look at the history of surgery and medicine in the UK. As the oldest surviving surgical theatre in Europe, the old operating theatre has been in the place since 1822, which was before anaesthetics and antiseptics were invented, meaning patients were at a high risk of infection and even death from surgery. You can learn all you need to know at the fascinating Victorian Surgery Talks, available every week at 2pm on Saturdays and 12pm on Sundays.

Nearest Accommodation: Tilford Woods Lodge Retreat / 50 mins train away

Dog Collar Museum

Dog Collar Museum at Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle, ME17 1PL / Monday – Sunday / 10:30am – 4:30pm / Adult £24, Child £16

Explore the picturesque castle and discover this fascinating collection of dog collars, whose history spans 5 centuries! Now is the time to view the collection, with over 130 rare collars, which includes 30 newly discovered collars that have never been on display before. Dogs now wear collars for identification or fashion purposes, but one of the earliest collars in the collection is from the 15th Century and was worn by hunting hounds for protection against wolves and bears! The spectacular iron collars, complete with spikes, were to defend the dog, towards the later 19th and 20th Centuries, up to the current day where collars are made for decorations and made for decoration and made from tyres, beads, plastic and rope. A really interesting collection for all ages.

Nearest Accommodation: Canterbury Reach Lodge Retreat / 40 mins drive away


Knutsford, WA16 0HL / Monday – Sunday / 11am – 8pm / By Appointment Only: 01565 633039

This wonderful hidden gem is home to over 700 cuckoo clocks and over 300 years of history of making these charming cuckoo clocks, with examples ranging from the 18th Century to present day. This amazing collection is owned by two brothers and it is known as one of the most important collections of its kind in the world. You’ll learn all about the rich history, amazing variety and delicate intricacy of these charming clocks. The brothers also boast other collections and exhibitions, including an Authentic Black Forest Tools & Machines exhibition, and a Vintage Motorcycle Collection to admire. Call to book an appointment and see all that Cuckooland has to offer.

Nearest Accommodation: Talacre Beach Holiday Home Park /1 hour, 20 mins away

House of Marbles

Newton Abbot, EX6 8JQ / Monday – Saturday / 9am – 5pm / Free

The House of Marbles is actually quite a popular attraction for an unusual museum in Britain, producing beautiful glass items, as well as a range of high quality vintage and traditional toys and games. Take a tour around the old pottery building and get a birds eye view of the extremely talented craftspeople working in the glassworks, where they shape, mould, pinch and cut, hand blown pieces of glass into beautiful sculptures. You’ll learn all about 4000 years of glass history, including how it is made and what developments it’s had over the centuries. Have a blast setting the fun and interactive marble runs, there are 4 in the marble museum to see! Don’t miss the games museum, which houses a large collection of board games, marble games and games as far back as the early 1600’s.

Nearest Accommodation: Hawkchurch Resort & Spa / 50 mins away

The Shoe Museum

File source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Huron_moccasins_with_quillwork_and_moose_hair,_1780-1830_-_Bata_Shoe_Museum_-_DSC00647.JPG

Somerset, BA16 0EQ / Monday – Friday / 10am – 4:45pm / Free. Donations Welcome

The rich history in this museum will interest all, with a collection of over 1500 shoes and some dating back to Roman days, you can learn all about the fascinating development of footwear over the centuries, as well as the history of Clarks, which began in the early 19th Century. With 4 fabulous galleries, you’ll see exhibitions including shoe-making tools, machinery, advertising materials and hundreds of shoes, including one dating as far back as the 2nd Century. There is also a collection of Victorian and Georgian shoes to marvel at, as well as Edwardian side button boots, a Chinese shoe for a bound foot and Princess Diana’s wedding slipper.

Nearest Accommodation: Cheddar Woods Resort & Spa / 30 mins away

Which unusual museum will you visit first? There are a whole host of quirky and unusual museums in Britain to explore, start with our list and learn something new along your way. Book your Darwin Escapes holiday today and explore all that these fascinating places have on offer.

Photo Credits: Andrew Stawarz, Sam Howzit, Stinglehammer, Paul Laskin, Daderot

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