There are so many wonderful experiences to be gained visiting London, but how many take the trouble to cross the rivers into South East London? I would expect there are plenty of people living in north London who have never visited Horniman Museum and Gardens in Forest Hill, South-East London. Give it ago.
This is a classic Arts and Craft building designed by Charles Harrison and opened in 1901. Funded originally with the fortunes of the Horniman tea trading, it is a public and free museum. For something new and innovative and very eco, it has a sod roof on one of the new buildings added in recent years, and the most wonderful, huge glass conservatory moved from the the Horniman family property to sit next to the Museum.
I am torn between loving the gardens – splendidly designed with view across London, and the museum itself and its collection. I'll start with a few pointers about the collection. Originally it was very much the Victorian collection, with glass cases, and small labels, but totally fascinating. There are some parts still like this. The musical instrument collection, with buttons to press to gain the sounds made by many popular and rare instruments is a must for the music lover. For the kids, there are special programs, particularly in the holidays or weekends, check it up on the website. But every kid, old and young will love the acquarium that has long been apart of the museum experience here. The major changing exhibitions (again see website) do have a charge attached….so choose if it is to your taste.
The gardens are a delight. You can sit quietly reading your paper and gazing at the sunken formal garden areas, or wander the food growing sections, with full information about the plants, or just loll on the grass under the mature trees. In summer free Sunday afternoon concerts provide an enjoyable outside entertainment for all ages and all musical tastes. There is even a tiny zoo with exotic animals to excite the very young. The recently added cafe offers child friendly inside/outside seating and is inexpensive. A great place for grandparents to take a few minutes rest.
To get there you have a 10 minute walk up the hill from the station at Forest Hill, or pick up one of a number of buses. The new overground train system takes you in and out of central London and across to the East End and north London. So, no excuse for you Londoners!There are so many wonderful experiences to be gained visiting London, but how many take the trouble to cross the rivers into South East London? I would expect there are plenty of people living in north London who have never visited Horniman Museum and Gardens in Forest Hill, South-East London. Give it ago.