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GO Museums in East London

Museums in East London Exploring aspects of the past can be a great way to spend an hour, an afternoon or a day, and in east London there are more than enough to keep the boredom at bay.

Two of the museums you’ll find on the east side are to do with the joys of childhood, the Ragged School Museum [map] and the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood [map].

Set in three canalside warehouses on Copperfield Road is the Ragged School Museum [map]. Opened in 1990 this museum focuses on what it was like to be at school in the Victorian East End. There are activities for young people of all ages including history talks and canal walks but probably the most invoking is the recreation of a classroom of the time.

The Childhood Museum [map] in Bethnal Green covers over 400 years of childhood from the 16th century to the present day. With more than 6,000 items on display including some of the first jigsaws and puzzles, there’s bound to be something here to inspire the young and reawaken happy childhood memories of hours at play.

If the multitude of home improvements programmes on TV have turned you into an interior's addict with a passion for beige, MDF and Moroccan style radiator covers then you may need to visit the Geffrye Museum [map] in Hackney E2 for the antidote.

This delightful museum will give you an insight into middle class living room interiors from Elizabethan times to the present day – from the covers to the colours, the furniture to the flooring. This museum also has an award winning walled herb garden to enjoy if the sight of all the real wood furniture gets too much.

Hackney is also home to its own museum – the Museum of Hackney [map]. Established in 1986 with the specific aim of collecting and interpreting evidence relating to the history of the area. The 6,000 artefacts held at the museum’s Technology Learning Centre include a 1,000-year-old Saxon long boat.

Walthamstow also has a museum to honour and preserve elements of its past. The Vestry House Museum [map] tells the story of Walthamstow and its people, and its treasures include an original police cell from 1840 and the Bremer car. The Bremer car was the first petrol driven motor car to be seen on the streets of London and was built by Frederick Bremer in Walthamstow.

One of the hidden gems of the area is the Old Operating Theatre Museum [map] and Herb Garret. Although not nearly as wholesome as memories of childhood this little museum which houses the oldest surviving operating theatre, is fascinating nonetheless.

Although strictly on the south side of the river the Old Operating Theatre Museum is close enough and unusual enough to make the effort worthwhile.

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