Whether you are an avid lover of history or simply fascinated by curious and interesting memorabilia from times past, a treat awaits you in London. The capital has a treasure trove of significant sites that have played an important role in the history of the country, of Europe and of two world wars. Here are a few examples that will keep you entertained and mesmerised for hours:
The Imperial War Museums
There are Imperial War Museums in several parts of the country and they are all worth a visit – click here for more information – however, only in London will you find the Churchill War Rooms where you can discover the history of Sir Winston Churchill’s life and work. The exhibitions in the Churchill Museum and in the Cabinet War Rooms are permanent and you can visit the secret bunker and view books, clothing and posters from the time of the second world war, as well as bronze busts of Churchill himself.
The London Mint Office
The selection of memorabilia at The London Mint Office is very variable and includes military collectables and commemoratives from both world wars, and from the Battle of Waterloo. You can collect commemorative sets of coins from World War II, including the official RAF Spitfire and Hurricane tributes, and even a centenary set of five coins that was issued to remember all the first world war heroes who fought on land and sea, or in the air.
The Royal Air Force Museum
The Royal Air Force Museum is free of charge and is the only museum in the country dedicated to the science of flight and aviation history. There is a base at Cosford in Shropshire and also the major London site at Hendon Aerodrome, which was a historic centre for aviation from 1908-1968 – click here for further details. You will marvel at the sheer variety of aircraft on display, from very early designs to contemporary jets and military aircraft. Children as well as adults will enjoy some of the fun and interactive events, and there is a 4D theatre and flight simulators, plus information on an autism-friendly trail, which you can download directly from the website.
Permanently moored at The Queen’s Walk in London, the historic warship is part of the Imperial War Museums and its displays recall what life at sea was like from the second world war until 1963. You can buy clothing, posters and gifts inspired by the war at sea, and by the ship itself. Of the bombardment fleet that supported the D-Day landings, only three remain, and the other two are in the United States.
Finally, if you’re planning a trip to St Paul’s Cathedral, be sure to take in the beautiful altar frontal on display to commemorate the centenary of the first world war, from 2014–2018. The embroidered artwork was created by 138 men from Australia, Canada and South Africa, as well as the UK. They all had suffered the effects of warfare and the Royal School of Needlework stitched together the small sections they each provided. The entire WW1 frontal was carefully restored in 2013 before once again going on display.