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horrid history of london

Horrid History of London

On the surface London history seems like it’s paved with gold but step down the side streets and you’ll find a very different story.

History buffs and brave youngsters will delight in the altogether more gruesome aspects of London history and there are plenty of museums that bring it horrifyingly to life.

To see the painful history of torture come to life before your eyes visit The London Dungeons [map], Tooley Street, SE1. Set deep in the heart of the capital and buried beneath the paving stones of Southwark lies one of the world’s most chilling horror attractions.

Definitely not for the faint hearted or young children The London Dungeons has become an essential part of the tourist trail and thousands of people from across the world flock here to experience more than 2,000 years of guts and gore.

Exhibitions include The Traitor – which is a terrifying boat ride through darkness to an uncertain fate – and The Wicked Women exhibition, which features some of London’s most notorious and murderous females.

Drudging up every deadly detail you’ll take a horrible journey through the years of the Roman Invasion to the Black Death ably assisted by some of London’s most infamous characters.

On a similar note The Chamber at Madame Tussauds [map] on Marylebone Road is again for those with nerves of steel. Focusing on serial killers and other murderers this exhibition at the ever-popular Madame Tussauds brings some of the more frightening wax works to life. Listen to the screams and manic laughter as you make your way through this exhibition, if you dare.

Of course, you didn’t necessarily have to commit a crime to be horribly tortured. In fact, sometimes all it took was an accident or an illness for you to end up on an operating theatre table looking up at a range of scary-looking instruments.

The Old Operating Theatre Museum [map], St Thomas Street, SE1, is the oldest of its kind in Britain. Dating back to 1815 this theatre, complete with large auditorium for audiences to watch the action, provides a fascinating glimpse into the beginnings of surgery.

Anaesthetic wasn’t introduced into surgery until 1847 and so patients were at the mercy of surgeons with only alcohol and nerves of steel to prevent the excruciating pain of having a limb or organ removed. Patients comfort was probably not helped by the fainting and gasping of the audience around them.

This museum attached to the theatre charts the painful history of surgery from its very beginnings to the ultra state-of-the-art techniques we are lucky enough to have access to today.

The Imperial War Museum [map] is a sombre reminder of all the conflicts that Britain and the Commonwealth has been involved in from the World War I to the present day.

Changing exhibitions include The Great Escape charting some of the incredible escape attempts made by Allied servicemen from German prisoner of war caps during the World War II and family events including Do Touch The Exhibitions which encourages children to use all of their senses in understanding war and conflict. The Imperial War Museum is located at Lambeth Road, SE1.

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