Madame Tussauds has become a London institution since its opening way back in 1835. Branches have since opened up across the world, but this is the original, continuing the spirit of Marie Tussaud, who began wax modelling at the tender age of 16 when she created a representation of Voltaire. Since moving to its present location on Marylebone Road in 1884, it has survived the ravages of fire and the Blitz, lending it as colourful a life story as some of the famous and infamous figures who are represented in wax within its walls. Thankfully, while many of the original models were destroyed in these incidents, the casts survived, meaning the originals could be remade.
Something which grabbed headlines from early on was the ‘Separate Room’, dubbed the ‘Chamber of Horrors’ by Punch magazine, where initially Madame Tussaud’s gruesome waxworks depicting the French Revolution were housed. The nickname stuck and remains to this day, when the Chamber has expanded to house notorious murderers and other infamous historical figures. Historical characters displayed today include Vlad the Impaler, Genghis Khan, Guy Fawkes and Adolf Hitler. When it comes to historical characters, only those whose likeness is known are represented, meaning that Jack the Ripper is one notable exclusion from the Chamber. The Chamber also features items used for torture and punishment of criminals, and is brought to life with recordings of victims’ groans and screams and actors in macabre make up who jump out at visitors from the shadows – this all adds to the atmosphere, but may be a bit too scary for younger kids! If your family is planning a trip to Madame Tussauds as part of a visit to London, but you haven’t yet found a hotel, Montcalm London city at the Brewery Hotel is a beautiful and luxurious hotel in a central location on Chiswell Street in the City of London. A range of offers are available on our website, including advance purchase deals and 15% off a 4 night stay.
Of course, there’s much more to Madame Tussauds besides the grisly Chamber of Horrors. Figures from all walks of life are displayed, including movie stars, sports heroes, prominent writers and scientists, and countless others. The figures are painstakingly assembled: each one takes six months, 2,400 lbs of wax, and tens of thousands of pounds to create. Living subjects are invited to be measured in order to achieve exactly the right proportions; photographs, contemporary accounts and other sources are scoured to ensure that deceased subjects are accurately represented. The work doesn’t stop once the sculptures have been finished, either: their hair and makeup is regularly re-done to keep them looking at their best. Among the most celebrated sculptures at Madame Tussauds are those of Albert Einstein, William Shakespeare, Steven Hawking and, of course, Queen Elizabeth II.The Queen was first represented by the museum when she was just two years old, and since then more figures of her have been created than any other single figure. Winston Churchill has had a total of ten wax likenesses made. Figures are so life-like that it’s not unheard of for celebrities to take the place of their figures, only to give punters a fright by suddenly jumping out at them.