London expert Laura Porter, goes in search of the oddest museums in the capital – and shares the quirks she uncovers.

Ragged School Museum

Victorian classroom and family fun

What's it like?The very spot where Dr Barnardo started a school to provide poor children with a basic education and a good square meal... explore four floors of these canalside buildings, including the Victorian classroom and kitchen.
It’s free to get in, and while the museum is open only on Wednesdays and Thursdays, during the school holidays you’ll find free activities on every floor.Plus there's also Sunday opening once a month for lessons in the Victorian classroom with a costumed teacher.
Want to make a day of it?With Mile End Park next door, there’s plenty of space to picnic and run free – or walk along Regent’s Canal to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. 


Who goes there?

Families for the free holiday activities, but anyone interested in Victorian London, heritage buildings and local history will find something to enjoy. 

Why I love it:On my first visit I met volunteers who had worked there for over 20 years – and I could understand why.
It just feels like home as everyone is so welcoming, plus there's always something new to do each holiday. How to find it:
Ragged School Museum, 46-50 Copperfield Road, London E3 4RR.Tel:

020 8980 6405Benjamin Franklin House

What's it like?

This Georgian house, close to Trafalgar Square, offers architectural tours and – my recommendation – the 'Historical Experience'.

Follow a costumed actor, and find out how they knew Franklin.There are video recordings to interact with too, but while the rooms are restored, they are mostly bare – so you only get to know the story of the house by listening to the performance.
Be sure to play your part by holding your questions until the end of the tour when a museum assistant meets your group. Who goes there?
American visitors who want to see where Franklin lived. Why I love it:

Magic Circle Museum

It sounds such an odd way of seeing a building but it does work.Without the actor this would be just a fine example of a Georgian building – with the actor, you learn the story of a very interesting man. 

How to find it

:Benjamin Franklin House, 36 Craven St, London WC2N 5NF.
Tel:020 7925 1405
Magic Circle Museum Secret Society's Collection

Museum of Brands

What's it like?Down a side road near Euston is The Magic Circle Headquarters.

Join a 'Magic Circle Experience' tour and you'll see magic shows and go into the one-room Magic Circle Museum.

All of the exhibits are in glass cabinets but your guide will point out the highlights, then let you explore.

You’ll find film props, a recreated window of a Victorian London magic shop and magic show posters (one’s worth a reported £1 million).Bonus: look out for the cups and ball used by The Magic Circle's most famous member, Prince Charles. 
Who goes there?Anyone with a love of magic and live entertainment.
Sure, many will enjoy reliving childhood memories, but this is no archaic institution; new magicians join every year. Why I love it:


The feeling of entering a secret society and being allowed to see their most hallowed collection. How to find it:

The Magic Circle Headquarters, Centre for the Magic Arts, 12 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2HD.Tel:

020 7387 2222