For a free day out in London that’s a bit different from the norm, head straight to Holborn and the Hunterian Museum. Housing the oldest collection of anatomical, pathological and zoological specimens in the UK, the shelves and shelves of formaldehyde-filled jars were assembled by the surgeon and anatomist John Hunter (1728-1793) and used for teaching his surgical students back in the day.
More than 3,500 preparations, fossils, paintings, drawings and – most interestingly – specimens in jars make up the collection, some of which were donated by scientific greats such as Edward Jenner and Charles Darwin (who donated the tooth of an extinct giant sloth called a megatherium!). The skeleton of the “Irish Giant” is also on show, standing at a magnificent 7ft 7in – as well as Winston Churchil’s dentures!
You’ll find over 500 species of animal in the museum, from elephants to crocodiles to scorpions and starfish, as well as specimens (including human body parts) and paintings showing a variety of diseases and injuries – all of which Hunter used for teaching medical students.
- Anyone with an interest in science – though best to avoid if you’re a bit squeamish. Kids and teens will love it too – educational with a good dose of gore.
- I’ve always thought the Hunterian would be a great venue for a date, as there’s so much to talk about! I mean, a dismembered human foot is always going to be a great conversation starter, right?!
- If you’re skint, it’s a really interesting and free day out (but donations are much appreciated).
The Hunterian Museum
Royal College of Surgeons, 35-43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3PE
Photos courtesy of the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons of England