Chislehurst Caves., south east London

12 quiet things to do in London this Bank Holiday Monday

The weather might have been a bit hit-and-miss this Easter, but that’s no reason to cower under the duvet. Make the most of your last day off with some of London’s most fascinating, unusual and least-crowded places, all of which are open on Bank Holiday Monday…

1. See the dinosaurs at Crystal Palace Park

Crystal Palace Park dinosaurs, south east London

Image: A Peace of London

Pay the Crystal Palace dinosaurs a visit at south London’s best park (IMO). After you’ve marvelled at the Victorian imagination and learned how they came about on the audio tour, explore the Terraces that were originally the setting for Crystal Palace, and have a go at the maze if you’re feeling adventurous.

Bank Holiday opening times: 7.30am until dusk

Nearest station: Crystal Palace

More information: Bromley website

2. Experience “darkness itself” at Chislehurst Caves

Chislehurst Caves., south east London

Image: Simon Swatman on Flickr

Those who like to be scared silly on their days off (and don’t mind a couple of loud noises) will enjoy a walk (guided, thankfully) through over a mile of one of south London’s most haunted places. Find out how the caves saved 15,000 lives during WWII, experience total darkness 350 feet below ground, and hear the story behind the haunted pool.

Bank Holiday opening times: Tours on the hour between 10am and 4pm inclusive

Nearest station: Chislehurst

More information: chislehurst-caves.co.uk

3. Visit the home of an artist at the William Morris Gallery

William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow, London

Image: A Peace of London

Discover the family home of designer, craftsman, and writer William Morris, who lived in this Georgian house between 1848 to 1856 with his mother and his eight brothers and sisters. It’s now the only public gallery dedicated to William Morris and is a fine example of Georgian domestic architecture.

Fun fact: the house’s next occupant after the Morris family was the publisher Edward Lloyd, who is known for publishing ‘Penny Dreadfuls’ and the first vampire stories to be published in England.

Bank Holiday opening times: 10am – 5pm

Nearest Tube: Walthamstow Central

More information: wmgallery.org.uk

4. Peek behind the curtains at The Geffrye Museum of the Home

Geffrye Museum of the Home, Hoxton, London

Image: Davide D’Amico on Flickr

If you love peering into pretty living rooms on Pinterest, then take a trip to Hoxton and The Geffrye Museum of the Home where you can indulge your passion for interiors (and see another, more down-to-earth side of Hoxton). This acclaimed museum is normally closed on Mondays but makes an exception on Bank Holidays.

Bank Holiday opening times: 10am – 5pm

Nearest station: Hoxton

More information: geffrye-museum.org.uk

5. Step back in time at the Old Royal Naval College

Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London

Image: Márcio Cabral de Moura on Flickr

This small museum (known as the Discover Greenwich Visitor Centre) charts the history of the ORNC site, the most interesting part being the remains of Greenwich Palace. As well as parts of the walls (with windows modelled on Hampton Court) they also have lots of Tudor artefacts found near the site, too.

Bank Holiday opening times: 10am-5pm

Nearest station: Cutty Sark DLR

More information: ornc.org

6. Visit the otters at WWT London Wetlands Centre

London Wetlands Centre, Hammersmith, London

Image: A Peace of London

It’s hard to imagine that there’s a wildlife sanctuary within walking distance of the busy centre of Hammersmith, but seeing is believing. Admire the otters (go during feeding time for the full otter experience) and relax as all manner of wildlife goes about its business around you. And, if you’re of the bird-watching persuasion, you can spot over 200 species of our feathered friends here.

Bank Holiday opening times: 9.30am-5.30pm (last admission 4.30pm).

Nearest Tube: Hammersmith

More information: wwt.org.uk

7. Go shopping at Battersea Flower Station

Battersea Flower Station, London

Image: Battersea Flower Station

It’s often described as ‘magical’ so now’s the time to explore this pretty independent garden centre and florist, just round the corner of Battersea Park and south of the Thames. All of their team and produce is from the area, so you’ll be supporting local suppliers, too.

Bank Holiday opening times: 11am-5pm

Nearest station: Clapham Junction

More information: batterseaflowerstation.co.uk

8. See the weird and wonderful at the Horniman Museum

Horniman Museum, Forest Hill, south east London

Image: A Peace of London

Explore the rich collection, aquarium and gardens that make up one of south-east London’s best museums. Highlights include hundreds of animal specimens — either taxidermied, skeletal or displayed in formaldehyde — in the main gallery, the strange (living) aquatic creatures in the aquarium, and the magnificent conservatory outside.

Bank Holiday opening times: 10.30am-5.30pm

Nearest station: Forest Hill

More information: horniman.ac.uk

9. Learn about a legend at the Florence Nightingale Museum

Florence Nightingale Museum, London

Image: Florence Nightingale Museum

Florence Nightingale not only had a radical impact on sanitation, military health and hospital practices but also established nursing as a respectable profession for women. Learn more about the lady herself and, until 14th April, see a previously-unknown portrait among other treasures at their exhibition, Hidden Treasures from the Hospital Vaults.

Bank Holiday opening times: 10am-5pm

Nearest station: Westminster / Lambeth North

More information: florence-nightingale.co.uk

10. Indulge in Stuart extravagance at Ham House

ham house, richmond, london

Image: A Peace of London

This beautiful historic house is set on the banks of the River Thames in Richmond and is regarded as one of the grandest Stuart houses in England. It boasts a stunning orangery (now serving as a gorgeous café), a collection of rare and intricate artefacts and, apparently, a ghost or two.

Bank Holiday opening times: 12pm – 4pm

Nearest station: Richmond or Twickenham

More information: National Trust website

11. See Garrick’s Temple to Shakespeare at Bushy Park

Garrick's Temple to Shakespeare, Bushy Park, London

Image: tpholland on Flickr

Discover 18th-century actor (and friend of Dr Johnson) David Garrick’s celebration of William Shakespeare, as well as the beautiful Bushy Park near Hampton Court Palace. Unfortunately, the Temple is only open on Sundays, but the pleasure gardens that surround it (and the view of the Temple next to the water) are worth the trip.

Bank Holiday opening times: Bushy Park and Garrick Temple Pleasure Gardens open 7.30am-dusk

Nearest station: Hampton

More information: garrickstemple.org.uk

12. Escape to the country at Mudchute Park and Farm

View of Canary Wharf from Mudchute City Farm, London

Image: A Peace of London

You don’t have to go far in London to get a taste of the countryside. This is especially true at Mudchute Park and Farm in east London, where the high-rise towers of Canary Wharf loom large in the distance.

Both the park and the farm are open seven days a week (including Bank Holidays) for free, and both a cafe and farm shop are available on site too.

Nearest Tube: Mudchute DLR

Opening hours: 9am-5pm daily, including Bank Holidays

More information: Read my review or Mudchute Park and Farm website
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