07.04.2015
13:46

St Bride’s Crypt Museum

Address:

St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street, EC4Y 8AM

Phone:

020-7427 0133

Website:

www.stbrides.com

Opening times:

Mon–Fri 9:00–17:00, Sun 10:00–18:30

How to get there:

Tube: Blackfriars

Entry fee:

Free

A small display in the crypt of the famous Wren church (1675) illustrates the history of the church and also of the printing industry, for which Fleet Street was once famous. An apprentice of William Caxton’s, Wynkyn de Worde, set up a press near here in the early 16th century. A Roman pavement discovered on the site during repair of the devastating Second World War bomb damage can be seen.

03.04.2015
14:22

St Bartholomew’s Hospital Museum

Address:

North Wing, St Bartholomew’s Hospital, West Smithfield, EC1A 7BE

Phone:

020-3465 5798

Website:

www.bartshealth.nhs.uk/about-us/museums,-history-and-archives/st-bartholomews-museum

Opening times:

Tues–Fri 10:00–16:00

How to get there:

Tube: St Paul’s/Barbican

Entry fee:

Free

Additional information:

Café (in hospital) and small bookshop

St Bartholomew’s Hospital, one of London’s major hospitals, was founded in 1123, with the Priory of St Bartholomew, by Rahere, a former courtier of Henry I. St Bartholomew appeared to him in a vision, demanding the establishment of a hospital for the poor and sick. The hospital’s small museum tells the history of this ancient charitable and medical institution, from the 12th century to the present day. Entry is through the Henry VIII gate, which leads to the hospital’s main square, built in the 18th century by James Gibbs, whose designs replaced most of the medieval architecture. The museum is under the north wing archway. On show is Rahere’s 1137 grant, an ancient document which has been at the Hospital without interruption, except perhaps at the time of the 1666 Great Fire. There are also a magnificent 1546 charter which refounded the Hospital following the dissolution of the Priory, with Henry VIII’s Great Seal; displays relating to William Harvey, the famous discoverer of the circulation of the blood, who was physician to Barts (as the hospital is popularly known) from 1609–43; and historic surgical, medical and apothecary’s equipment.

The museum’s other magnificent attraction is Gibbs’s 1730–32 North Wing, with its grand staircase leading to the vast Great Hall, the highly decorated, official and ceremonial rooms of the hospital. The staircase is decorated with large biblical New Testament scenes by William Hogarth, The Pool of Bethesda and the Good Samaritan. Hogarth carried out the work for free, and was elected a governor of the hospital in return. He wrested the commission from the Venetian artist Jacopo Amigoni (who was instrumental in persuading Canaletto to visit London) in 1734. Beyond charitable philanthropy and the desire to be a hospital governor, Hogarth had several reasons for wanting the project: Barts was personal to him, since he was born in the area; he could avenge his late father-in-law Sir James Thornhill’s humiliation at having had his great Baroque works at Moor Park replaced with those of Amigoni; he could champion the work of the British School; and he could establish himself as a serious, large-scale history painter. Hogarth himself recognised the ambitious challenge he had set himself of painting figures ‘seven foot tall’. In April 1736 the Pool of Bethesda was complete, and the Good Samaritan the following year, by July when the scaffolding was taken down. The governors thanked Hogarth for his pictures ‘which illustrate the Charity extended to the Poor, Sick and Lame of this Hospital’, which quickly became one of the sights of London. Several elements of Hogarth’s dignified scenes draw on Raphael’s ‘Acts of the Apostles’ cartoons, then at Hampton Court, now at the V&A, regarded at the time as the high point of artistic excellence. The figure of Christ, for example, is based on Raphael’s Feed My Sheep. Hogarth had also carefully observed the patients at Barts for the sick being cured by Christ (an infant with rickets, a man with gout, and an emaciated old woman). The landscape background is attributed to Hogarth’s fellow artist and friend George Lambert; the scenes are set within feigned Rococo plasterwork, executed by a Mr Richards; and below are grisaille scenes showing Rahere’s vision and establishment of the hospital, and a sick man being carried into the hospital on a stretcher.

03.04.2015
14:19

Saatchi Gallery

Address:

Duke of Yorks HQ, King's Road, London SW3 4RY

Phone:

0207-811 3085

Website:

www.saatchigallery.com

Opening times:

Daily 10:00-18:00

How to get there:

Tube: Sloan Square

Entry fee:

Free

Selections from the attention-grabbing Saatchi collection of over 2,500 recent British and American artworks can be seen in the surprisingly formal setting of County Hall. These grand offices of the London County Council and its successor, the Greater London Council, were designed by Ralph Knott from 1902–22, when they were occupied by the LCC, and finally completed in 1974. Following the abolition of the Greater London Council in 1986, County Hall has hosted an eclectic variety of tenants, all attracted by the central riverside location beside Westminster Bridge. These tenants were joined in 2003 by the Saatchi Gallery, relocating from its white-walled, top-lit home in a former paint factory on Boundary Road, St John’s Wood, where it had first opened in 1985. Seven years later, picking up on the success of ‘Freeze’, a show curated in 1988 by Goldsmiths College Fine Arts graduate Damien Hirst, Charles Saatchi mounted a show at Boundary Road entitled ‘Young British Artists I’. The YBAs, such as Hirst, Tracey Emin, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Sarah Lucas and Gavin Turk, predominantly conceptual artists and sculptors, have since monopolised the public’s perception of the Saatchi Collection, especially since the success of the ‘Sensation’ exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1997, itself perhaps an inspiration for the move into the establishment confines of County Hall. Recent shows here, entitled ‘The Triumph of Painting’, have begun to address other forms of art represented in the Saatchi Collection, while continuing to promote both established and up-and-coming artists working in all media.

A tour of any exhibition here entails a circuit of the parquet-floored corridors of former bureaucracy, with detours into the empty offices of erstwhile Council functionaries. These small individual rooms, windowless and wood-panelled, with stopped clocks above the municipal mantelpieces and cold grates below them, are intensely evocative—and also sometimes highly appropriate—spaces for the display of individual artworks or groups of work. Most exhibitions also make a feature of the Rotunda Room, formerly the Council’s conference room, with its domed, coffered ceiling and convenient bays between marble Corinthian columns. Another permanent fixture is the installation ‘20:50’ (1987) by Richard Wilson, a formal room filled up to the door handles with engine oil, a steel walkway let into the middle, creating a mirror image of the room. The effect is disorientating and pungent.

03.04.2015
14:06

Royal Society of Arts

Address:

8 John Adam St, WC2N 6EZ

Phone:

020-7930 5115

Website:

www.rsa.org.uk

Opening times:

Mon-Fri 8:30-20:00

How to get there:

Tube: Charing Cross

Entry fee:

Free

Founded in 1754 as the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, the RSA (as it now known), sprang out of the speculative coffee-house culture of the Strand, a patriotic pressure-group designed to recognise, accredit and reward hard-working entrepreneurs. Founder William Shipley, a drawing master from Northampton, wrote that his aim was ‘to render Great Britain the school of instruction as it is already the centre of traffic to the greatest part of the known world’. The Society mounted the first public art exhibition in 1761, the preface to its catalogue penned by Dr Johnson, and went on to help in the organisation of the Great Exhibition of 1851 and of the establishment of the National Training School of Music, predecessor of the Royal College of Music, in 1876. It also had a hand in the Festival of Britain in 1951.

In 1863 the Society instituted the annual Albert Medal for ‘distinguished merit in promoting Arts, Manufactures and Commerce’, the first recipient being Sir Rowland Hill for his part in setting up the Penny Post. Subsequent awards have gone to the discoverer of electro-magnetism Michael Faraday (1866), the pioneer of antisepsis Joseph Lister (1894), Bauhaus architect Walter Gropius (1961), ornithologist Sir Peter Scott (1970), architectural historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner (1976), musician Yehudi Menuhin (1981), conductor Sir Simon Rattle (1997), and lager beer entrepreneur Karan Bilimoria (2004). In 1935, in conjunction with the Royal Academy, the RSA mounted the first important exhibition of industrial design, which led to the establishment of the Design Council and also the RSA’s own faculty of Royal Designers for Industry: among those appointed members are architect Sir Norman Foster, fashion designer Issey Miyake and the designer of the iMac, Jonathan Ive.

 

The Building

In 1770 the architect brothers John, Robert, James and William Adam began work on a sumptuous riverside development called the Adelphi, meaning ‘brotherhood’. Almost the only part of their original edifice now surviving is the home that Robert and James completed for the Society four years later at No. 8 John Street (now John Adam Street). Robert Adam’s elegant Palladian façade frames a large, arched Venetian window, surmounted by a stucco crescent of plaster, the epistyle of the entablature inscribed ‘Arts and Commerce Promoted’. In the entrance hall and grand stairwell, both re-modelled in the 1920s, the columns imitate the Adams’ front porch, and wall panels list those honoured as RDIs (Royal Designer for Industry), as well as the Presidents of the RSA, and recipients of the Albert Medal. The staircase, decorated with one portrait of Prince Albert and another of Queen Victoria looking over the plans for the Great Exhibition, leads up to the landing and the Great Room. Near the door sits the President’s Chair, a massive piece designed by Sir William Chambers in 1759, and still used by the current president when attending lectures or award ceremonies.

 

The Great Room

The Great Room, designed by Robert Adam as an assembly room for discussions, debates and presentations, is dominated by James Barry’s epic series of mural paintings, The Progress of Human Knowledge and Culture. Left and right within his scheme are portraits of two early presidents: Robert, Lord Romney by Joshua Reynolds and Jacob, Lord Folkestone by Thomas Gainsborough. In 1774 ten artists including Barry had been invited to undertake the decoration of the room, but all declined. Three years later Barry offered to do the job free of charge, in exchange for his board, canvas, paints and models. In his own ‘Account’ of the six pictures in the series, he writes that they were intended to ‘illustrate one great maxim or moral truth, that the obtaining of happiness, as well individual as public, depends on cultivating the human faculties’. Impressive to behold, their symbolism certainly seems to be at least as important as their art, a stirring allegory of the aims and objectives of the Society.

On the west wall, left upon entering the room, the first painting, Orpheus, shows ‘the founder of Grecian theology’ with his lyre, surrounded by ‘people as savage as their soil’, their cave-dwelling children prey to wild beasts. Barry defended his depiction of a woman shouldering a dead deer by reminding his more delicate readers that ‘the value and estimation of women increases according to the growth and cultivation of society’. All the paintings emphasise struggle and competition as fundamental characteristics of progress. The second painting, Thanksgiving to the Rural Deities, is perhaps the least portentous. It depicts a ‘Grecian harvest-home’, with Ceres and Bacchus looking down upon an Arcadian group happily dancing around Sylvanus and Pan. But as Barry points out: ‘It is but a stage at which we cannot stop, as I have endeavoured to exemplify by the group of contending figures in the middle distance, where there are men wrestling.’ The third painting, Crowning the Victors at Olympia, runs the full length of the north wall facing the door and was originally the backdrop for the Society’s own award ceremonies. Representing the climax of Ancient Civilization, the composition features many famous faces from the Golden Age of Greece, and some too from Barry’s own time: Pericles appears as William Pitt the Elder, and the artist Timanthus as a younger version of Barry himself. The next painting blends myth and reality more boldly: Commerce, or the Triumph of the Thames shows Father Thames being borne along by tritons in the shape of the great navigators Drake, Raleigh, Cabot and Cook. The white cliffs of Dover can be seen in the background, behind a strange landmark monument added by Barry in 1801: ‘a combined mausoleum, observatory and lighthouse which the Tritons have erected in tribute to the first Naval Power’. The penultimate painting, The Distribution of the Premiums in the Society of the Arts, features many of the people involved in the early years of the Society standing in front of Chambers’ Somerset House with the dome of St Paul’s in the background. Founder William Shipley sits in the bottom left-hand corner, the instrument of the institution in his hand; Dr Johnson ‘points out Mrs Montagu to the Duchesses of Rutland and Devonshire as worthy their attention and imitation’; William Locke and Dr Hunter look over a youth’s promising drawings; the agriculturalist Lord Arthur Young, who had quarrelled with Barry, is shown in unflattering profile.

The final painting, Elysium or the State of Final Retribution, running the length of the south wall, shows a gathering of ‘those great and good men of all ages and nations, who were cultivators and benefactors of mankind’. A pelican in her piety (feeding its young with its own blood), a symbol of Christ’s love and sacrifice—perhaps also a reminder of Barry’s ardent but necessarily covert Catholicism—here apparently ‘typifies the generous labours of those personages in the picture, who had worn themselves out in the service of mankind’. Among the 150 or so personages included are Archimedes, Descartes, Copernicus, Galileo, Columbus, Hogarth and, in Barry’s words, the ‘glorious sextumvirate of Epaminondas, Socrates, Cato, Lucius Junius Brutus, Marcus Brutus and Sir Thomas More, which Swift so happily brought together in his account of the island of Glubbdubdribb’. Swift himself appears in the company of Erasmus and Cervantes. Among the legislators, Alfred the Great stands proudly centre stage with William Penn and Trajan looking over his shoulder. In the bottom left-hand corner are the dark shades of Tartarus, with a volcano vomiting flames and men, an uncomfortable home for a ‘malicious whisperer’, a vain man wearing the Order of the Garter, a worldly Pope and ‘a wretch holding the Solemn League and Covenant’, the Scottish protestants’ oath against King Charles I.

 

The Tour

In the 20th century the RSA’s house expanded into Nos. 6, 4 and 2 John Adam Street, and the tour includes other Adam rooms, their correct proportions preserved and several featuring doors and fireplaces rescued from Bowood House in Wiltshire. The Romney room in particular has been carefully restored to its original colour scheme, with ceiling panels showing ‘Pan celebrating the feast of Bacchus’ by the school of Antonio Zucchi and his wife Angelica Kauffmann. The Shipley Room also has a fine decorative ceiling. The back yard of No. 8 was converted in the late 1980s into a glazed atrium and staircase (Green Lloyd) leading down to the 18th-century brick vaults. In the Durham Street Auditorium, the mid-19th-century street running down to the river from the Strand has been exposed and preserved.

The RSA also holds one of the largest single collections of paintings on loan from the Arts Council Collection. These include works by Lucien Freud, Norman Adams, Elizabeth Frink, Frank Auerbach and Gillian Ayres. Specially commissioned by the RSA in 1991 to commemorate 50 years of royal patronage, Justin Mortimer’s portrait of the Queen displays an unusually fresh but not irreverent approach to its subject. A portrait by Stuart Pearson Wright of HRH Duke of Edinburgh, commissioned in 2002 to celebrate the half-century of his presidency, did not find favour: ‘As long as I don’t have to have it on my wall,’ the Prince is reported to have declared.

03.04.2015
13:58

The Royal Mews

Address:

Buckingham Palace Road, SW1 W1QH

Phone:

020-7766 7302

Website:

www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit/royalmews

Opening times:

Feb-March and Nov Mon-Sat 10:00-16:00, March-Oct daily 10:00-17:00

How to get there:

Tube: Victoria/Green Park

Entry fee:

Admission charge

Additional information:

Shop (free entry)

The Royal Mews is a working department of the Royal Household, responsible for the care and maintenance of the sovereign’s horse-drawn carriages of state, official cars and internal mail. Likened by members of the Royal family to a small village, it now occupies the south corner of the gardens of Buckingham Palace, beyond the conspicuous pediment of the Riding House. Designed by Sir William Chambers in 1765–66, this was one of George III’s early improvements to his new purchase, Buckingham House. The pediment was adorned in 1859 with a sculpted relief of Hercules and the Thracian Horses, the man-eating mares whom Hercules tamed by feeding them their master’s flesh. Queen Victoria watched her nine children learn to ride here, where royal horses are still trained to become accustomed to the sounds of marching bands, crowds and flag waving. Beyond the Riding House are the main quadrangle, stables, coach houses and clock tower, all designed in 1825 by John Nash, as part of his renovation of Buckingham House for George IV.

 

The Royal Transport

Queen Alexandra’s State Coach is considered to be the finest built in the collection, converted by Hoopers into a ‘glass state coach’ in 1893. Decorated with 67 different crowns, it has now been adapted to carry the Imperial State Crown to the State Openings of Parliament. On these occasions, the Queen normally travels in the Irish State Coach, originally built by Hutton’s of Dublin 1803–04. First favoured by Queen Victoria after the death of Prince Albert, and later severely damaged by a fire, it was meticulously restored, and carried Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother to the Queen’s coronation in Westminster Abbey in 1953. The 1902 State Landau, built by Hoopers for King Edward VII, is used by the monarch to meet visiting heads of state. Prince Charles travelled to St Paul’s in this open coach for his wedding to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. She herself was conveyed to the cathedral in the Glass Coach, first used for King George V’s coronation in 1911. The Scottish State Coach was built in 1830 and used at the coronation of King William IV. In the late 60s, on the wish of the Queen, it was adorned with the Order of the Thistle and Royal Arms of Scotland and refurbished by the St Cuthbert’s Co-Operative Society in Edinburgh. Also on display are some of the five royal Rolls-Royce Phantoms IV to VI. In place of the marque’s ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’, a silver statuette depicts St George and the Dragon, designed by Edward Seago.

Some of the Queen’s horses, the famous Windsor greys and Cleveland bays, can also be seen in loose boxes on the south side of the quadrangle. Apart from the thoroughbred bays, their names are each chosen by Her Majesty.

The extraordinary Gold State Coach was built for George III in 1762 to a design approved by William Chambers, costing eight thousand pounds. It has been used at every coronation since that of George IV in 1821, weighs nearly four tonnes and is pulled by eight horses proceeding at a walk. William IV likened the ride to ‘a ship tossing in a rough sea’. After the death of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria refused to use it, complaining of the ‘distressing oscillations’. A fantastic showpiece designed to trumpet British sea power, the gilded body framework carved by Joseph Wilton comprises eight palm trees, each of the four corner trees rising from a lion’s head, and supporting trophies symbolising British victories against France in the Seven Years War (1756–63). The body is slung on braces of morocco leather held by four gilded tritons or bearded sea gods, half-man half-fish, the front pair blowing conch shells, the winged pair behind holding trident fasces, symbols of the King’s maritime authority. Putti symbolising England, Scotland and Ireland stand at the centre of the roof, supporting the royal crown. The design of the wheels is based on those of an ancient triumphal chariot. Eight side panels painted by Wilton’s assistant, the Florentine artist Giovanni Battista Cipriani (1727–85), depict classical scenes celebrating the wealth and success of Britannia. The carriage is displayed here complete with four model horses in full harness and livery, ridden postillion by two mannequins also in livery. Encircling the room is a frieze painted by Richard Barrett Davis, animal painter to King William IV, showing the carriage and that monarch’s coronation procession in 1831. King William had wanted a relatively quiet affair compared to that of his predecessor George IV ten years earlier, which had cost 240 thousand pounds. At the Duke of Wellington’s insistence, parliament voted 50 thousand pounds for the event; it in fact ended up costing slightly less.

03.04.2015
13:40

Royal London Hospital Museum

Address:

St Philip’s Church, Newark Street, Whitechapel, E1 2AA

Phone:

020-7377 7608

Website:

www.bartshealth.nhs.uk/about-us/museums,-history-and-archives/the-royal-london-museum

Opening times:

Mon–Fri 10:00–16:30

How to get there:

Tube: Whitechapel

Entry fee:

Free

Additional information:

Café (in hospital) and shop

Located in the crypt of the hospital’s former church of St Philip and St Augustine, now a medical library, the museum tells the story of The London Hospital (founded 1740), once Britain’s largest voluntary hospital. Refurbished in 2002 and arranged in chronological order in three sections covering the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, some of the items were originally collected by Henry Wellcome. Displays cover the history of healthcare in the East End generally, as well as of the hospital itself, featuring sections on children and health, early surgery, Victorian doctors, Dr Barnardo, early X-rays and the hospital in the two world wars. A display on forensic medicine sponsored by crime writer Patricia Cornwell covers the Whitechapel ‘Jack the Ripper’ murders, and Christie’s murders at Rillington Place. Other highlights include a video about Joseph Merrick (the elephant man), the last letter of Edith Cavell—the nurse executed by the Germans in 1915 for helping Allied soldiers to escape occupied Belgium—and a fragment of George Washington’s false teeth.

03.04.2015
13:34

The Faraday Museum

Address:

21 Albemarle Street, W1S 4BS

Phone:

020-7409 2992

Website:

www.rigb.org/visit-us/faraday-museum

Opening times:

Mon–Fri 10:00–18:00

How to get there:

Tube: Green Park

Entry fee:

Free

Behind an impressive rank of Corinthian columns, modelled on the Temple of Antoninus in Rome, is the Royal Institution of Great Britain, founded in 1799 to promote ‘the application of Science to the common Purposes of Life’. In the basement, in the area occupied until 1872 by his laboratory, is a small museum devoted to the scientific discoveries of Michael Faraday (1791–1867). Born the son of a blacksmith, and initially apprenticed as bookbinder, Faraday discovered electro-magnetic rotation (the principle behind the electric motor) and—even more importantly for 19th-century industry—electro-magnetic induction (the principle behind transformers and generators), as well as benzene, the magneto-optical effect, diamagnetism and field theory. He himself was discovered by Humphry Davy, the second professor of chemistry at the Royal Institution. In 1812, at the age of 21, inspired by Davy’s final four lectures, Faraday had presented his notes to the great man in application for an interview. It was granted, but no position was available. The following year, a fight between the Instrument Maker and Chemical Assistant resulted in the latter’s dismissal, giving Davy the opportunity to appoint Faraday as his assistant. From October that year until April 1815, he accompanied Davy and his new wife Jane on a scientific tour of the continent. They travelled on a passport from Napoleon allowing the couple a maid and also a valet, a job description that caused Faraday some distress but gave him the opportunity to witness scientific research in Paris, Italy, Switzerland and Germany. Back in London, he helped Davy develop his celebrated miner’s safety lamp. In 1821, he published his first piece of original research, on electro-magnetic rotation, followed ten years later by his discovery of induction. The site of his original laboratory was restored in 1973, guided by eight watercolours painted by Harriet Jane Moore during the 1850s: the result is an ordered chaos of cabinets, bottles, bell jars, table stands, and a hand-operated vacuum pump. In the adjoining exhibition area are shown further pieces of his equipment, including the Great Cylinder Machine built in 1803, which he used to observe the nature of electrical discharge, a stool insulated with glass legs, the voltaic pile (prototype of the battery) given to him by Alessandro Volta, the original discoverer of electro-magnetism in 1800, and an electric egg that Faraday used to demonstrate electrical discharge in gases. Variations under different pressures allowed Faraday to identify the ‘dark discharge’ near the cathode now known as the Faraday Dark Space.

03.04.2015
13:19

Royal Hospital Chelsea

Address:

Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, SW3 4SR

Phone:

020-7881 5493

Website:

www.chelsea-pensioners.org.uk

Opening times:

Independent Visits – Monday - Saturday 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM (Groups of 10 or less)
Guided Tours - Monday-Friday at 10:00 AM & 1:30 PM (must be booked min. 4 weeks in advance)
*Great Hall is closed between 12:00 PM & 2:00 PM every day for Chelsea Pensioner meals*

How to get there:

Tube: Sloane Square

Entry fee:

Independent visits - Free Guided tours – £10pp (up to 20 people); £8pp (up to 15 people)

Additional information:

Shop

Founded by Charles II in 1682 for invalided and elderly soldiers, the Royal Hospital, Chelsea appears much as it did in the 17th century. Sir Christopher Wren’s magnificent building dominates Royal Hospital Road, with its elegant central Doric portico, surmounted by a small tower and cupola, with ranges of red brick to east and west. Here around 420 Chelsea Pensioners still have lodgings, and the governing routines of the Hospital are little changed since its foundation. The 1961 Infirmary to the east is due to be replaced with a building by Quinlan Terry.

As you stand in the central Octagon Porch, to the east is the Chapel, with fine oak carving, its apse filled by the Resurrection, an unexpected splash of Baroque verve, painted by Sebastiano Ricci in 1716 (the oil sketch for the work is at Dulwich Picture Gallery). To the west is the magnificent Hall, where the Pensioners eat. The west wall is filled with a mural by Antonio Verrio, an equestrian portrait of Charles II in the centre, the king surrounded by marine deities, the Royal Hospital in the background. Recently restored, it was started in 1687, Verrio being assisted by the artist Henry Cooke. Straight ahead from the Octagon Porch is Figure Court, a wide, magnificent courtyard enclosed by ranges to either side, the north range with a handsome open colonnade. In the centre is Grinling Gibbons’s statue of Charles II, a classical image of Imperial authority, recently regilded and dazzling in the sun. Presented to Charles II by Tobias Rustat and placed here in 1685, every Founder’s Day (Oak Apple Day, 29 May, Charles II’s birthday and the day which celebrated his Restoration to the throne) it is wreathed with oak leaves. The south end is open, with a vista over the beautiful Hospital grounds to the river. Originally laid out as water gardens, the gateways retain their original Jean Tijou wrought ironwork.

In the range to the west of the main Hospital buildings is the small Museum, refurbished in 2001. A model of the Hospital shows it c. 1745, with, adjoining the Hospital gardens to the west, the famous Ranelagh Pleasure Gardens with its celebrated Rotunda (Canaletto’s view of the inside of the Rotunda is at the National Gallery). Pictures include George Jones’s Battle of Waterloo, and a full-length of the Duke of Wellington by John Simpson. There is a mock-up of a pensioner’s ‘berth’, the 9ft-square panelled living accommodation (a 1990s improvement on Wren’s original 6ft-square spaces) ranged in succession down the Long Wards; examples of the Chelsea Pensioners’ distinctive uniforms, bright scarlet coats for summer, dark blue for winter; and a display of military service medals bequeathed by Pensioners over the years.

MUSEUMS & GALLERIES OF LONDON

Details below are taken from our Blue Guide Museums and Galleries of London.  This is a 2005 title, here generally updated for website address and opening times, with useful comments from some of the museums themselves.  More recent information is given in Emily Barber's magisterial new Blue Guide London, "Exceptional update to a classic and useful guide to this amazing city" (Amazon reader review).

FULL LISTING of CURRENT EXHIBITIONS in London from Apollo Magazine »

Emily Barber recommends five major London museums »

Please do share your comments and updates with us via the form below the entry for each museum.

Latest

National Maritime Museum
Wimbledon Windmill Museum
Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum
2 Willow Road (National Trust)
William Morris Gallery
Whitechapel Gallery
Westminster Abbey Museum
Wesley's Chapel
Wellington Arch (English Heritage)
Wallace Collection
Victoria & Albert Museum
Tower Bridge Exhibition
Tower of London (Historic Royal Palaces)
Tate Modern
Tate Britain
Sutton House (National Trust)
Spencer House
Southside House
South London Art Gallery
The Courtauld Institute of Art (Somerset House)
Sir John Soane's Museum
Shakespeare’s Globe
Serpentine Gallery
Science Museum
St Bride’s Crypt Museum
St Bartholomew’s Hospital Museum
Saatchi Gallery
Royal Society of Arts
The Royal Mews
Royal London Hospital Museum
The Faraday Museum
Royal Hospital Chelsea
RCM Museum of Music
Royal Academy of Music Museum
Royal Academy of Arts
Red House (National Trust)
Ranger’s House (English Heritage)
Ragged School Museum
The Queen’s Gallery
Prince Henry’s Room
The Photographers’ Gallery
Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology
Osterley Park (National Trust)
Orleans House Gallery
Old Operating Theatre, Museum and Herb Garret
Natural History Museum
National Portrait Gallery
National Gallery
National Army Museum
Musical Museum
World Rugby Museum
Museum of the Order of St John
Museum No. 1 (Royal Botanic Gardens)
Museum of London
Garden Museum
Museum in Docklands (Museum of London)
The Royal Observatory
The Queen's House
Old Royal Naval College
Marianne North Gallery (Royal Botanic Gardens)
Marble Hill House (English Heritage)
Mall Galleries
Lord’s Tour and MCC Museum
London Transport Museum
London Fire Brigade Museum
London Canal Museum
18 Stafford Terrace – The Sambourne Family Home
Library and Museum of Freemasonry
Leighton House
Kingston Museum
Kew Palace (Historic Royal Palaces)
London Museum of Water & Steam
Kenwood House (English Heritage)
Kensington Palace (Historic Royal Palaces)
Keats House
Jewish Museum
Jewel Tower (English Heritage)
Jerwood Space
Imperial War Museum
ICA Institute of Contemporary Arts
Hunterian Museum
Horniman Museum
HMS Belfast (Imperial War Museum)
Hayward Gallery
Handel House Museum
Hampton Court Palace (Historic Royal Palaces)
Ham House (National Trust)
Guildhall Art Gallery
Guards Museum
Grant Museum of Zoology & Comparative Anatomy
Geffrye Museum of the Home
Fulham Palace
Freud Museum
Foundling Museum
Forty Hall & Estate
Florence Nightingale Museum
Firepower: The Royal Artillery Museum
Fenton House (National Trust)
Fashion and Textile Museum
Fan Museum
Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art
Eltham Palace (English Heritage)
Dulwich Picture Gallery
Dr Johnson’s House
Dennis Severs' House
Danson House
Cutty Sark
Contemporary Applied Arts
Chiswick House (English Heritage)
Chelsea Physic Garden
Chartered Insurance Institute Museum
Charles Dickens Museum
Carlyle’s House (National Trust)
Camden Arts Centre
Cabinet War Rooms & Churchill Museum (Imperial War Museum)
Burgh House - The Hampstead Museum
Buckingham Palace
Brunel Engine House
Brunei Gallery SOAS
British Optical Association Museum
The British Museum
The British Library
Bramah Museum of Tea and Coffee
Black Cultural Archives
Museum of Childhood (Victoria & Albert Museum)
Bethlem Museum of the Mind
Benjamin Franklin House
Ben Uri Gallery - The London Jewish Museum of Art
Barbican Art Gallery
Banqueting House (Historic Royal Palaces)
Bankside Gallery
Bank of England Museum
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Hampton Court Palace (Historic Royal Palaces)
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Leighton House
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Museum of London
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Victoria & Albert Museum
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Southside House
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The British Museum
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Lord’s Tour and MCC Museum
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National Gallery
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Sir John Soane's Museum
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Handel House Museum
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