I’m a-trippin’? No, EuroTrippin’!
Sorry, I just thought of that right now and thought it was incredibly amusing.
On my fifth day in London, I wanted to learn more about the city’s history so I visited the Museum of London, which provides some insight from the prehistoric age until now. Like many other museums in London, this one was free as well and only a short walk away from the Barbican and St. Paul’s tube stations. It is open daily from 10 AM to 6 PM.
There were a few school groups moving around the museum that day, so I breezed through a couple of the early rooms to avoid them. This included most of the prehistoric stuff which showed off animals that used to live in the area as well as tools used by the people who were there before the Romans came and took over.
The museum is actually located on a street called London Wall, and there are remnants of the wall that surrounded the Roman Londinium just outside. Londinium was established around 43 AD and its location on the Thames was pretty helpful in turning it into a port city. The city kind of just collapsed in around the 5th century, not by violent destruction, but because many of its inhabitants had just decided to leave. In 886, West Saxon King Alfred fought the vikings and established the town of Lundenburg within the city walls with new streets and new houses.
From there, we enter Medieval London. Did you know that a lot of our modern day English words come from languages spoken in Medieval London? Well, I guess it makes sense, but here are some examples:
- Sheep comes from the Old English “sceap”
- Egg comes from the Old Norse “egg”
- Window comes from the Old Norse “vindauga”
- Map comes from the Latin “mappa”
- Castle comes from the Anglo-Norman “castel”
There were also videos about the Black Death in AD 1348 and the Great Fire of London that were depressing.
From there, we start entering Modern London, which is divided into three sections, starting in the 1600s when the city started rebuilding itself after the fire. The most interesting part in the first “Expanding City” section of Modern London is a room dedicated to the pleasure gardens of the late 18th century. Pleasure gardens were popular places to go in summer evenings and revelers would wear fancy costumes and masks and eat food while listening to an orchestra or watching fireworks. People of different classes mixed for a fun time.
After Expanding City, there is the People’s City section. This period, covering the 1850s to the 1940s, was a time when London had become the wealthiest city in the world and the class divide became even more pronounced. Here, you can also stroll down a Victorian Street with models of different shops that you would see back in the day.
Some of the stuff from the early 1920s were pretty cool too.
World City, focusing on the 1950s until today, came after that
and surprisingly, I don’t have any real pictures from this section. I could have sworn that I took some that featured mod fashion or stuff from the Beatles, but alas, it’s just not there. Bummer. Scratch that. I found it!
I did take a good amount of pictures in another special permanent gallery showcasing the London 2012 Olympic cauldron. This isn’t the complete original cauldron, per se, but it uses the original stems, a simplified base, and petals that were used for testing. The original petals were sent to the various National Olympic Committees that participated in the games. The only petal in the exhibition that was used in the games is Great Britain’s.
The cauldron was created by Heatherwick Studio and the petals were made of copper while the stems were made of steel. There is also a video of the lighting ceremony from the Olympics that plays continuously in the background as well so you can relive that moment.
This was such a well-designed museum and I wish Los Angeles had a museum going over its history just like this, though LA has definitely not been around for as long as London has. Hopefully, one day, before the city gets destroyed by a giant earthquake!