Hidden treasures: what to see on a re-visit the East End


Any regular visitor to the UK capital will doubtless agree that London’s absolutely jam-packed full of attractions, so many you haven’t a chance of squeezing in anywhere near all of them into just one visit. And yet, this long list of things to see and do – in most people’s minds at least – tends only to include those attractions to be found in the centre or west, or sometimes the north. But what about the east? What, if you’re returning for a repeat visit to, say, the City of London area, can you visit that’s lesser known; a bit off the beaten track? Here are some ideas…

Olympic Park

Dennis Severs’ House

(18 Folgate Street E1 6BX)

To step inside this centuries-old building is to genuinely step back in time – and yet, fascinatingly into different eras behind each door. For the rooms of this Grade II-listed Georgian terraced house were gradually altered by one-time owner Severs to resemble what they may have looked like across 200 years of history, the house as a whole having been reimagined as the home of a dynasty of London-based Huguenot silk weavers. Each room, organised as if its occupants have just left (and featuring, among all the historically resonant detail, detritus like half-eaten bread, as well as appropriate smells and background noise), offers an experience in a different era of history, the combined experience of which was described by Severs (before his death) as ‘still life drama’.

Museum of Childhood

(Cambridge Heath Road E2 9PA)

Housed in another Grade II-listed building, this Bethnal Green site offers up the biggest collection of childhood-related objects anywhere in the UK. Featuring fascinating galleries and intriguing displays ideal for curious minds young and old, the museum’s remit – and very much its aim – is to showcase a vast array of toys, childhood equipment and costumes both made for and by children from throughout history.

Wilton’s Music Hall

(1 Graces Alley E1 8JB)

First opened way back in the mid-19th Century, this fully renovated venue is today a centre for artistic productions in cabaret, dance, magic, puppetry, opera and classical music, ensuring it’s a living music hall theatre; its building also comprising a concert hall and a public bar. Just a short distance then from The City (and so not far at all from accommodation near Brewery Road London City, like The Montcalm at The Brewery London City), this venue’s ideal for a unique, unforgettable night out.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

(E20 2ST)

A one-time combination of greenfield and brownfield land, including stretches of Hackney Marshes, the base for London’s 2012 Summer Olympics is once more open to the public and worth visiting for far more than just the boast you’ve been to an Olympic site. Today the Stratford-located park serves as a man-made space of natural beauty for all visitors – not least families – with picnic areas, playgrounds and riverside walks, while of course, there’s those Olympic-recognised venues to take in too; should you be attending an event. The London Stadium (as it’s now referred to), the London Aquatics Centre, the Lee Valley VeloPark, the Copperbox – and many more. And, lest we forget, there’s the strikingly twirling, boldly bright red ArcelorMittal art sculpture as well, which now attracts young and old alike as a giant, high-speed super-slide. Yes, really!