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Hidden gems and unique experiences in London
- Scott Henderson
- 26 February 2016
From art exhibitions in a crypt to gardens in the sky, London is a town of many wonderful secrets
Everyone has done St Paul's, taken selfies on the Eye and walked with dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum – London’s greatest hits are obvious. But did you know Brixton is home to a fully functioning windmill? Or that London’s most atmospheric gallery space is inside a 19th century crypt that doubled as an air raid shelter during the war? Travel with Southeastern to discover some of London’s hidden gems. Here are some of our favourites…
Sky Garden – Entry is free to this slice of paradise in the city, boasting 360 degrees of uninterrupted views across London from its highest public garden. Just a short walk from Fenchurch Street Station, the Sky Garden sees three floors host exquisite landscaped gardens, viewing areas, café, terrace, bar and restaurant. This unique experience is strictly by booking only, but it offers a unique perspective on London’s ever evolving skyline.
Crypt Gallery – In a city full of world class gallery spaces, the Crypt Gallery of St Pancras Parish Church stands out as one of the most imaginative. First used as a burial space in 1822, the church continued this practice until 1855 and it remains home to 557 souls. It wasn’t until 2002 that the crypt became a gallery with a year-round programme. ‘As a church,’ the website states, ‘we are pleased to include art that provokes and questions, as well as art designed for contemplation, because all form as important part of our common humanity.’
Eltham Palace – A showpiece example of 1930s art deco design, Eltham Palace was, perhaps surprisingly, a medieval royal palace transformed by millionaires Stephen and Virginia Courtauld that would find itself used as a set for many a Hollywood film. Two rooms standout in particular: the domed reception room that looks fit for a bond villain, and Virginia’s prize bathroom with a gold mosaic and onyx bath tub. Situated near Mottingham Station, Eltham Palace is just a short train ride from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Brixton Windmill – Celebrating its 200th birthday in 2016, the Brixton Windmill reopens to public at Easter after a winter hibernation. Following its last restoration in 2010, the windmill opened in 2011, educating many of London’s children, and adults, on the city’s agricultural history and training volunteer millers. Brixton design duo are announced as creative ambassadors for the bicentenary year.
Crime Museum – Would be sleuths whose appetite has been stoked by recent hit whodunnits like Making a Murderer and Serial will love a trip to the Crime Museum. Established in the 1870s but only open to police professionals and invited guests, the museum is open to the public for the first time, its exhibition of collections curated by the Metropolitan Police is open until 10 Apr. Take a journey through some of the UK’s most infamous crimes – including the Great Train Robbery, Dr Crippen and the Acid Bather Murderer, and the Krays – and see some of the original pieces of evidence used to solve them. Right now Southeastern Railway is offering 2 for 1 tickets.
Plan your next day out exploring hidden gems by visiting Southeastern for a full list of destinations and timetables.