The Horniman Museum

Adventures were needed yesterday! Last week we were stuck indoors for the whole of Monday, but with gorgeous winter sunshine and a strong desire to avoid that much mess* again it was time for an outing.

There are lots of good places to explore with a toddler in South London and one of our favourite local haunts is the Horniman Museum. The museum is an eclectic / slightly random collection of stuffed animals, musical instruments and anthropological artifacts. I assumed these to have been collected/shot by some wealthy Victorian chap on his travels around the empire and having now checked on the history that was basically right. Frederick John Horniman traded in tea and made it his life’s work to “bring the world to Forest Hill”. How terribly British.

There MUST be a frog in here…


 Anyway as far as E is concerned it has two main attractions – a small aquarium and an enormous stuffed walrus. Walruses are, I believe pretty big anyway, but this one was shot, sent home and apparently stuffed by someone who’d never actually seen a walrus and was unaware that they are supposed to have folds of skin – so they just kept on sticking in the stuffing until the skin was taught and the poor creature looked like an air ship with tusks. The mighty beast sits atop a fake iceberg and E always runs straight to him pointing and shouting “Alllwus!” as soon as we arrive (I believe he even has his own twitter account).

There is also a small hands on natural history section with little puzzles and things to listen to and touch (including a frankly rather manky looking stuffed fox – but then that is at least representative of it’s local, living relatives). There is usually a bee hive between two sheets of glass so you can see right into their little honeycomb home but this is away for maintenance at the moment – it seems even bees need to call in the builders round here!

Finding Nemo

E’s favourite thing this time though was the small aquarium, it has a nice selection of British freshwater and coastal beasties, a tropical tank for the Nemo lovers and (Evelyn’s favourite) a variety of frogs. As ever we had to dodge the manic school parties – (funny how primary school children can seem enormous when you’re trying to stop your two year old getting knocked over by them) but E had a lovely time and once we’d climbed the hill in the surrounding park to get back to the car (and admired the great views across London) she was happy, but exhausted and she (or perhaps that should be I) was ready to benefit from a very long lunchtime nap!

Visiting information:

Buggy friendliness – Excellent! step free entrance, lifts to all levels, large disabled/baby change toilet you can take buggy in with you, secure buggy storage area and lockers (for the aquarium you need to leave the buggy just outside but everything else has room to take it with you)

Website –

Opening hours – 10.30-5.30 daily

Cost – Free but there is a small charge for the aquarium for over 3’s (a £6 adult annual pass is well worth it if you’re local)

How to get there (you can park for free on streets in the area – but be ready to practise your hill starts!)

Food – cafe with high chairs and children’s food, proper meals, snacks and cakes

*The no mess thing lasted until we made pancake batter today – there now appears to have been another snow fall, this time inside my kitchen

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