Top Hidden Gems in London Part 3

In part three of my hidden gem London series, I uncover a neon art gallery with enough lights to rival Las Vegas, a peaceful Parish Church in the City, a slice of Japan in Holland Park, the quirkiest museum in London, and a flower market charming enough to melt even the toughest of hearts. Enjoy!

1) God’s Own Junkyard

If you think Piccadilly Circus is the  only place in London to dazzle visitors and Londoners alike with its bright city lights, think again.

God's Own Junkyard (06)

God's Own Junkyard (11)

Okay, so admittedly unlike Piccadilly Circus, God’s Own Junkyard is situated in the not so glamourous setting Walthamstow, North-East London  in a pretty grim looking salvage yard, but it’s no less impressive.

Open only at the weekends, God’s Own Junkyard showcases the dazzling collection and works of the late neon artist, Chris Bracey. It has the largest stock of neon vintage signs in Europe and is the oldest signmaker in London,  showcasing everything from seedy neon sex shop signs of Soho of the 60’s, to neon art that was once used on set in movies.

God's Own Junkyard (06)

Being in the not-so-glamourous setting of a Walthamstow scarp yeard, you’ll wonder what gem could possibly exist there. Even I was at a lost as to what gem could possibly exist here. But press on and you really do discover something well worth your time.

God's Own Junkyard (01)

Completely free to enter, it’s even got a ‘Rolling Stone cafe’ that serves cream teas and a selection of freshly baked cakes.

God's Own Junkyard (07)

You’ll be amazed that such a gem could exist in such a place. In fact, it’s so hidden from everyone that no matter the time of day you visit, it can sometimes feel like you have the whole place to yourself. It’s well worth getting out of zone 1 to see this.

God's Own Junkyard (03)

2) Viktor Wynd Museum

You might want to leave the kids home with this one. This creepy but utterly fascinating basement museum in Bethnal Green deserves its place on this list for its quirky nature.

Viktor Wynd Museum (11)

I’m going to say it now: it’s the quirkiest museum in London. Within its tiny space, The Viktor Wynd Museum is crammed from floor to ceiling with the collection of the most bizarre objects ever from possessed Victorian dolls to David Bowie’s lock a copy of the seedy ‘Naught Nun’.

Apparently, its aim is to present an incoherent vision of the world. Once you’ve paid your £5 entrance fee and descend down the narrowest of spiral staircases, it’s a bit like walking into a horror film.

Viktor Wynd Museum (04)

Viktor Wynd Museum (03)

It’s literally tiny and you can cover the museum in under a 1 minute. But you’ll want to spend time looking closely at everything inside and that will take a good hour of your time like ti did for me.

I challenge anyone to find another museum more quirky than this place. The £5 entrance also includes a nice of cup of tea to soothe your fractured nerves once you’ve emerged out from the museum.

Viktor Wynd Museum (06)

Viktor Wynd Museum (05)

This one is for adults only. For anyone’s who’s nerves might not be up for the macabre sights in the basement, the ground floor of the venue is also a quirky cocktail bar complete with very reasonably priced cocktails and a stuffed lionesses.There’s an another incentive to check this weird and wonderful place out.

Viktor Wynd Museum (07)

Viktor Wynd Museum (09)

3) St Dunstan in the East

St Dunstan (04)

The City of London is an impressive but busy place, and we all need to get away from it all from time to time. Luckily, there is a haven hidden among the soaring skyscrapers.

Only a few minutes walk away from Monument, this hidden pocket of zen is a bombed out English parish church built around 1100. Throughout its long history, it suffered in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and largely damaged in the London bombings during the Second World War. Any plans to rebuild it was scrapped following the bombings.

St Dunstan (01)

However, its remains have since been turned into a public garden and granted Grade II status. St Dunstan building features a churchyard with remains of its walls and memorials. Secluded from the bustle of the City just around the corner, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you were right next to the Walkie-Talkie building.

St Dunstan (03)

St Dunstan (02)

4) Kyoto Garden

Carrying on the theme of the zen gardens, the Kyoto Garden is a small Japanese Garden situated in the centre of Holland Park in Kensington.

Kyoto Garden (03)

It was designed by a Japanese artist and planted with colourful, plants, shrubs and water features. It construction donated by the chamber of commerce of Kyoto in 1991  and presented as a gift to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to celebrate the friendship long-lasting friendship between Japan and Great Britain. How lovely!

Kyoto Garden (01)

What I loved most about the garden was how the garden and woodland animals co-exist peacefully in the garden. Peacocks just going out their business without fear from us humans and squirrels get up close and personal too. It’s the perfect place for peace and contemplation.

Kyoto Garden (06)

Kyoto Garden (05)

5) Columbia Flower Market

Columbia Flower isn’t as hidden as some of the attractions on here but I feel it’s not talked or mentioned as perhaps it deserves than other markets in London. It’s a Sunday-only street market located on Columbia Road selling, you guessed it, flowers.

Columbia Flower Market (06)

It’s proper charming: Columbia Road itself is lined with boutique stores with a Victorian facade selling all kinds of goods from homeware to perfumes. If you’re looking for a unique gift, you can find it here. Vendors contest for your attention and with their cockney/East-End accents, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to haggle and negotiate on prices here such is the wheeling-and-dealing nature of East-End traders.

Columbia Flower Market (05)

Only about 15 minutes from Bethnal Green station on the Central Line, Columbia Market is free to wonder around. It doesn’t matter what time of the year you visit, you will see flowers in bloom from roses to lilies.

Columbia Flower Market (08)

Columbia Flower Market (04)

The street market isn’t very long, but that’s ok, you can happily spend an hour or two wandering around the cute boutique shops and cafes, and admiring the flowers.

Columbia Flower Market (01)

Columbia Flower Market (09)

Officially one of my favourite places in London, I’ll be heading over again just to have another wander around. It’s a great place to go with your significant other.

Columbia Flower Market (10)

Have you visited any of these hidden gems? What do you think? Have I missed any? What hidden gems are there that I should visit? Let me know in the comments below!

Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of my Hidden Gems series if you haven’t already 🙂

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. Marina says:

    Columbia Road is always VERY busy and therefore quite hard to see everything. You can’t even get into some of the shops for the crowds! Best thing about it is the Laxeiro Spanish restaurant with resident cat lovely Gilbert 🙂 http://spitalfieldslife.com/2013/03/26/east-end-cats/

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    1. I must have been extremely lucky! It was a cold day and I arrived fairly early in the day. Perhaps that’s the key 😉

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  2. Wow, some of these places look awesome..great finds! We will make sure to hunt these down when we are next in town 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you found my post helpful! Let me know which gem you visit and what you think of it! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sarah says:

    I have been to St Dunstans & it was amazingly quiet for being in the middle of the city. I’m originally from Christchurch, NZ and I am really hoping they do something like this with the earthquake damaged cathedral in the middle of the city. It would be quite the drawcard I think. I am planning on God’s Own Junkyard for my next visit to London in a few months time 🙂 It’s been on my London wish list for a long time!!

    Like

    1. St Dunstan really is a gem and I’m so glad there’s these pockets of spaces in such a busy area of London 🙂 Absolutely! I think you’ll love God’s Own Junkyard. It’s quite out of the while, but you’ll be amazed! Let me know how you find it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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