London’s wacky and unusual attractions are guaranteed to capture the imagination of those who are brave enough to find them. Adam Bennett follows the footsteps of murderers, surgeons and pathologists to discover some truly bizarre objects in the best weird museums in London.
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A strong contender for the strangest object at the Grant Museum is a collection of eighteen moles, preserved in formaldehyde and stuffed into a jar. The moles even have their own rather amusing Twitter account.
Other weird and wacky objects inside the museum include a collection of stomach-churning brains preserved in alcohol. If you can take more after that, look for the Negus Collection of bisected heads. It's one of the world’s largest collections of preserved mammal heads, including a chimp, a rabbit and a sloth.
Barts medical school and museum also features in the history of Sherlock Holmes. Creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle visited the museum as part of his medical training. It's also said that he wrote some of his short Sherlock stories in one of Bart’s main offices.
Visitors can gaze into glass cabinets containing various gruesome medical instruments. You'll find contraptions essential for restraining patients and tools used for amputations. As there was no source of anaesthetic at the time surgeons depended on speed, and experts were able to remove a limb in under a minute (!). There’s even a pair of preserved lungs blackened by Victorian smog.
Displays include horrific instruments of torture and restraining devices, used to cause pain and discomfort to unfortunate inmates. You can inspect the deadly apparatus wielded by jailers upon ill-fated convicts while learning about famous residents of the Clink, who often met their end at the Tower of London.
Four separate films in the museum document Merrick’s deformity. In addition, a number of items of clothing are he wore to disguise his unusual disfigurement are on display. You can also see exhibits dedicated to celebrated war-time nurses Edith Cavell and Eva Luckes.
At the height of the infamous Jack the Ripper murders in 1888, hospital curator and surgeon Thomas Horrocks Openshaw helped Scotland Yard with investigations. The museum has acquired some of the original forensic material from the case.
To top it all off the museum also features a selection of surgical instruments, old uniforms and written archives of the history of healthcare in the East End. It's a fascinating way to discover another side of London’s dramatic history.