The Bank of England

If I know people, like I think I know people, then people like free stuff.

A visit to the Bank of England Museum is free and you can learn about Adam Smith, the history of the rise and fall and the rise of the banks. Why not have a go at quantitative easing?

Have you every picked up a bar of gold? The highlight of this visit is picking up a real bar of gold.

Plan A was get a good strong box,
and some guns

Vast displays of coins from antiquity.


And the highlight of the free visit.


Mr Brown, you forgot this one!

The Banqueting House

Turn right at the Houses of Parliament, walk along Whitehall until you get to Horse Guards Parade.

On the opposite side of the road is Banqueting House, the only remaining part of the Whitehall Palace. Designed in 1619 by Inigo Jones.

Here, for six pounds you can lie on a beanbag and stare at the ceiling for your whole lunch break.

Painted around 1636, by the Flemish painter, Sir Paul Rubens, now remains his only in-situ ceiling paining.  After a mix up on the measurements (length of a foot is different in Belgium) it was cut to size by Inigo and Rubens’ apprentice. The artist never did see his work.

You also get an audio guide.



Yes it really is opposite Horse Guards Parade.



Imperial War Museum – London

If you want to learn something new today, then visit The Imperial War Museum.

From Spitfires to espionage, The Great War to The Gulf War. First hand testimonies from men, women and children who lived through the wars as well as an insight into the political landscape of the time leading up to war.

The IWM is not as big as Natural History Museum, for example, but more than can be take in in one lunch break. You could wander around in an hour looking at the major artefacts or I would plan 3 trips covering one floor at a time.

Why not buy an excellent  guide book for £5 and plan your trips? The proceeds go to the museum.

Imperial War Museum
Location:Lambeth Rd, London SE1 6HZ
Cost: Free

Currently there’s an additional exhibition of photographs taken by war photographer Lee Miller – A Woman’s War. The cost of this is £10, or free for members.

The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret.

A twisty turny wooden staircase will lead you into the roof of St Thomas’ Church, Southwark.
Here you will find the oldest operating theatre in Europe (built 1822) and the Herb Garret (built 1703), used by the hospital’s apothecary to store and cure herbs.

The operating theatre was in use up until 1862 until the hospital was relocated, and then it lay hidden, for nearly a hundred years .

Wonderfully atmospheric, beautiful Herb Garret, slightly eerie operating theatre (and tools). Interesting to imagine a time when anaesthetics and antibiotics had not yet been discovered.

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The Old Operating Theatre
9a St Thomas St, London SE1 9RY (One minute from London Bridge Underground)
Open:10:30 – 5pm Daily
Cost Adult: £6.50

Benjamin Franklin House

Step back in time to 1757…

Benjamin Franklin’s London lodgings, near Charing Cross,  have been lovingly restored to their former glory.  Take a “Museum as a Theatre” experience to be guided around the house by actors in costume.

Fascinating, so much condensed into a theatrical show with actors, audio and video. Scientist, Politician, Founding Father. I am left wanting to know more!

Tour takes 45-50 minutes.

Benjamin Franklin House
36 Craven Street, London WC2N 5NF
Cost Adult: £7 – Pre-book ticket online

The Monument

Monument is a 62m high column built circa 1671 to commemorate the Great Fire of London.
For the price of 4 English pounds you can climb up inside the column (311 steps), enjoy the view from the platform and get a certificate on your descent.

I can’t think of a better way to spend my lunch break.

Not for the frail, infirm, those who have vertigo, claustrophobia or climacophobia.


Fish St Hill, London EC3R 8AH
Website: The Monument
Cost Adult:£4

Florence Nightingale Museum

Although small, the museum is cleverly divided into threes sections.  
The first tells the early family life of Florence and her sister Parthenope, exploring their upbringing and how, against the odds, Florence pursued her “calling” to become a nurse.

The second sections explores Florence’s commission to head up a team of nurses going to Scutari, during the Crimean war  “The Lady with the Lamp . And the final section looks at Florence’s return to the UK and her unrelenting work as a social reformer and so much more.

Each section has six or more audio guides dotted around interesting artefacts as well as little “spy holes”  through hedging to see photographs and drawings (can’t really explain, you will just have to go see for yourself!)

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Do find time to see the other heroes of the Crimean War and First World War, including Edith Cavell, a nurse who managed to save 200 prisoners of war escape, with the aid of her trusty dog, Jack. This year marks the centenary of her death.

Also Mary Seacole, a Jamaican born nurse, who, after her offer of assistance was refused by the war office, set off independently to the front line to offer “succour for wounded servicemen on the battlefield.”

Did you know funds are being raised to create a memorial statue of Mary Seacole at St Thomas’s hospital?

Also, in 2015 a competition called Kings Cross 1-10,000, chose “Mary Seacole Street”  as one of 34 short listed out of 10,000 suggestions for their new road names!

Florence Nightingale Museum
2 Lambeth Palace Road, London, SE1 7EW
Cost Adult: £7

Other Sites of interest:

Kirkaldy Testing Museum

The museum is open the first Sunday of each month

In 1874 the Kirkaldy Test Works was set up by David Kirkaldy, a  Scottish engineer. Its purpose was to independently test construction materials. The first of its kind.

Kirkaldy’s machine and other machines have been restored and preserved in the same building that is now a museum. So if you know your tension from your torsion you have come to the right place.

“Facts not Opinions” was David Kirkaldy’s mantra, emblazoned  onto his building.

On a recent visit (3/10/2015) I had an excellent tour guide, a German engineer. As well as knowledgable we even had demos of the machines. All the guides are volunteers.

The museum was also taking part in Merge Arts Festival (Bankside) and the downstairs basement had been converted into an interactive art installation that was thoughtfully reflective of the museum.

Kirkaldy Testing Museum
99 Southwark St, London, SE1 0JF
Website: Testing Museum
Cost Adult: £5
The museum is open the first Sunday of each month

Garden Museum (closing from the end of October 2015 until 2017)

The Garden Museum is a small museum inside a beautiful church celebrating gardens and equipment through history. It also has a small ornate garden.  There are a few exhibits and a shop with great gardeney gifts.

The cafe has a range of “fresh vegetarian lunches from 12”.

But beware this museum is closing from the end of October 2015 until 2017 for a complete refit. So if you always planned to go, check it’s still open.

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Lambeth Palace Rd
London SE1 7LB
Website:Garden Museum
Cost: No cost to enter Cafe
Cost:£7.50 to view exhibit rooms.