Exploring Weird and Wonderful London

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London is an incredibly varied city.

With two millennia’s worth of history and an artistic culture to match, it’s no wonder that the city has inspired so many creatives. Whether it be through music, storytelling or art, London has sparked countless imaginations due to its electric atmosphere and labyrinth of boroughs.

That’s one of the charms of London… there’s always something new to discover.

With 1,500 square kilometres of city to explore, it’s not surprising that even those who have lived here for decades haven’t seen everything yet. Taking that into account, first-time visitors to the Shaftesbury collection London can still find the nooks and crannies of the city, especially with the help of a local expert.

Below you can find some of the city’s hidden gems, skirting the fringes between the well-trod centre and the lesser-known outer reaches.

Horniman Museum

Based in Dulwich, this varied museum offers up a range of weird oddities, all contained within the house of Frederick Horniman, who, after inheriting his father’s tea business, indulged in his passion for collecting international relics.

With archaic instruments, taxidermy and unique temporary exhibitions, the Horniman Museum is one of the most unique museums in London.

Epping Forest

Nestled at the end of the Central Line and easily accessible from Shaftesbury hotels in Paddington, Epping Forest is what remains of one of the largest and most ancient forests in the UK.

This beautiful alcove of ponds, trees and wildlife spans 19 kilometres on the outskirts of Essex and offers beautiful walks and rambles through stunning natural surroundings. As one of the most important wildlife reserves in and around London, Epping Forest offers much-needed respite from the noise of the city.

Highgate Cemetery

This Northern Line based cemetery is one of London’s “magnificent seven”, a collection of London cemeteries that offer unique characteristics and rich histories.

As the resting place of Karl Marx and George Eliot, Highgate Cemetery attracts the politically and artistically minded in equal measure and has developed its own mythos among the nature-claimed gravestones.

Crystal Palace Park

Based in the depths of South East London, Crystal Palace Park is a Victorian-born wilderness of quirky relics and beautiful fields. Here you can find a range of endearingly outdated dinosaur statues and the titular crystal palace, once based in Hyde Park for the 1851 Great Exhibition but since relocated to become the centrepiece of the park.

Also included in Crystal Palace Park (and not to be missed) is a unique sphinx statue and its own maze!

Richmond Park

This vast Royal Park is in the heart of West London and is easily reachable from hotels in Paddington London via the district line to Putney.

Richmond Park spans a wilderness reserve enclosure of 950 hectares and dates to the 17th-century, when it was built as a royal hunting ground.

Syon Park

Encompassing the surrounding grounds of the Duke of Northumberland’s London home, Syon Park is a beautiful 56-hectare woodland and conservation area. With its Grade I listed house and unique architecture, the park and surrounding Thames flood lands were built on the foundations of a 15th-century monastery.

Eltham Palace

Eltham Palace is based in Greenwich and is owned by the Crown Estate.

Since 1995, it has been an English Heritage site and is built in the art deco style of the 1920s. With tours around the unique interior of the house open daily, Eltham Palace is also famous for being one of the most haunted buildings in the UK.

This makes it the perfect sightseeing spot for both interior design enthusiasts and ghost hunters alike.

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