A city as old and rambling as London tends to pick up a few secrets along the way. The expanding and winding streets end up hiding brilliant museums or galleries in basements or barely noticeable side alleys. It is a quirk of the place that makes it so much fun to just explore; you never know what fascinating new thing you will find around the next corner. While happening upon these museums is half the fun, some are just too interesting to miss out on.
What is it?
Behind the shuttered windows of what appears to be an old and battered 18th Century townhouse is one of London’s more strange and fascinating museums. Number 19, Princelet Street in Spitalfields is home to London’s Museum of Immigration; one of the more interesting and unusual places to visit in London. It is small, odd, amazing, and free to enter; well worth your time.
A Bit of History
19 Princelet Street was formerly the home of the Ogiers, protestant Huguenots that fled persecution in France way back in the 17thcentury. Over the years Spitalfields has always a haven for immigrants of all different stripes. As each new wave of migrants has passed through the area they have left their own unique marks on the building. It is this that makes the museum so fascinating to explore, these immigration watermarks.
When to go
Sadly, poor structural integrity of the old building means the museum cannot open for regular days or hours, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get to see it. The Museum opens a handful of times a year, with visitor numbers carefully controlled to prevent too much stress to the old sloping floors and rickety stairs. As the entry is free and there are no bookings in place, it is first come first served on the days they do open up for visitors. Check out their website to see when the next open day is.
What is nearby?
Spitalfields rests between London’s vibrant East End and the ever active City of London, so you know there is a lot to do in the area. Brick Lane and the hip bars of Shoreditch are only five minutes’ walk away if you feel like a bit of a party after your tour. If you need somewhere to stay, you can enjoy a luxury night at the Montcalm Chiswell Street just next to the Barbican cultural centre. History buffs will of course get a kick out of seeing the Tower of London, Bank of England Museum, and the Police Museum. There is even a city farm with goats to pat if that takes your fancy.
Exploring Shoreditch London
How to Get There?
Transport to 19 Princelet Street is a simple affair. If you are travelling by Tube there are a few nearby options: Aldgate East Station is a few minutes away and has stops for the Hammersmith & City Line (pink line), and the Circle Line (yellow Line), the Central and Metropolitan Lines (red and purple lines) also run nearby at Liverpool Street Underground Station. Otherwise, you can use Overground Rail Network (orange line), stopping at Shoreditch High Street, or National Rail services from Liverpool Street Railway Station. Finally, the bus network runs extensively through the area, allowing connections throughout London.