Ah, those summers in the car being dragged by parents to one boring tourist trap after another. Some were boring, some were places your mum and dad were dragged to as kids, and some were just plain weird. The United Kingdom is no exception to having its own strange places to visit. For every tourist spot such as Buckingham Palace, Stonehenge, or the British Museum, there are weirder locations vying for attention.
1. Hunterian Museum – The Royal College of Surgeons, London
At the Royal College of Surgeons in London, the Hunterian Museum contains the private collection of John Hunter, a self-taught surgeon who collected many preserved specimens now on display. The rumours persist that Hunter taught himself about anatomy using corpses provided by body snatchers. In addition to animals, people, and organs in jars, the Hunterian contains many drawings, paintings, and fossils, as well as deformed bones and skeletons including that of the “Irish Giant” Charles Byrne (who stood at 7’7”). The museum is open Monday through Friday from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.
2. Genesis Expo – Portsmouth
The Genesis Expo is the biggest Creationist museum in the United Kingdom. If you’re not sure what Creationism is, it’s a religious theory that posits the universe was created exactly as it says in the Biblical Book of Genesis. While I’m not going to comment on the viability of their beliefs, the Expo contains several displays on topics such as the impossibility of life forming from chemicals, genetic studies showing humanity originating from one man and one woman, present day forms remaining unchanged from their fossilized counterparts, and even dinosaur eggs and a large model of a T-Rex named “Boris” (Yeah, I don’t get it either. You believe nothing came before humans, but you’re showing off dinosaurs?). There is also a diorama of a tombstone saying “Here Lies the Theory of Evolution.”
3. British Lawnmower Museum – Southport
Cutting the grass is a summertime chore that every kid dreads and every adult can’t seem to get enough of. Started by ex-racing driver Brian Radam based on his early involvement in the family business, the museum is one of the leading authorities on vintage lawnmowers. In addition to various types of old lawnmowers, the museum includes lawnmowers from celebrities and such manufacturers as Rolls Royce and Royal Enfield. A slightly more interesting exhibit follows lawnmower racing and the first British Lawnmower Grand Prix in 1973. From mowers over 200 years old to robotic mowers of the future, you can drag your kids here to make them hate mowing even more.
4. The Gnome Reserve – Devon
In legends, gnomes tend to be small, fairy-like people, introduced as garden decorations in the 19th century. The modern image of gnomes on which most of the lawn ornamets are based comes from The Secret Book of Gnomes published in 1973. The Gnome Reserve is a 4-acre garden home to over 1,000 of these lawn ornaments as well as woodland, streams, meadows, and 250 labeled species of flowers, herbs, grasses, and ferns. The website asserts that children will love it and it is “Recommended for adults whose sophistication can have robbed them of a freshness of vision.” The Reserve also has a kiln were visitors can see pottery pixies being made and a museum with a collection of early garden gnomes.
5. Cuckooland – Cheshire
Brothers Roman and Maz Piekarski of Cheshire have managed to amass one of the largest collections of cuckoo clocks as “foremost horologists and clock restorers” from their 40-year careers. The brothers have brought in clocks from all over the world as well as “Cuckoo and Quail Clocks”, “Trumpeter Clocks”, and “other associated musical movements.” They set up the museum approximately twenty years ago and it sports a collection of over 600 different time pieces. Perhaps a more interesting, if unrelated, part of the museum is the brothers’ collection of motorcycles. Visitors will also have the chance to see a large collection of Black Forest tools and repairs of cuckoo clocks as the museum has a fully-functioning repair shop.
Have you ever been sucked into an odd British Tourist Attraction? Let us know in the comments below!