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From Giraffes in Regent’s Park to Underground Temples and a Secret Beach

House of Dreams

Think you know London? We bet you didn’t know about some of the following and have probably walked past them, not realising there are free short story machines, hidden beaches, actual giraffes, ears and eyes lurking above, beneath and around you.

We’ve rounded up 12 of the most weird and wonderful, secret gems the capital is waiting for you to find. And we’ve just made the job a whole lot easier. But keep it to yourself, right?


London lighthouse

London’s Only Lighthouse 

Built 150 years ago, this lighthouse was once used as a laboratory by famous scientist Michael Faraday and is now used to play a musical composition, projected to last one thousand years without ever repeating.

You can find it in one of the capital’s most eccentric and rarely visited areas - Trinity Buoy Wharf. There you will also discover a sea container city; ringing public telephones you answer for free meditation and memory experiences;  an original Fifties George town diner, moved to London to become Fatboy’s Diner; a floating music recording studio and the world’s smallest museum (Faraday Effect) inside a wooden hut.

Trinity Buoy Wharf, 64 Orchard Pl, London E14 0JW

Free Story Station

Free Short Story Dispensers

Choose the length of your story - one, three or five minutes - and the free short story dispensers at Canary Wharf’s Jubilee Place, Churchill Place and Crossrail Place Roof Garden will select a story for you. Genres range from suspense, crime, science fiction, to romance, humour, fiction and children’s stories – printed on eco-friendly paper to read on your commute and swerve doom-scrolling for a bit.

Find them at Jubilee Place, Churchill Place and Crossrail Place Roof Garden

London secret beach

Secret Millennium Bridge Steps to Hidden Beach

There are secret steps near Millennium Bridge which few venture down, but head through the open gate at the bottom and you will discover a hidden, sandy beach which runs along the South Bank, when the tide is out. In this peaceful spot in the heart of the capital, you can enjoy amazing views of the city, north bank and river as the boats bob by.

Thames Embankment, London EC4V 3QH

London hidden nose

Find the Eyes and Ears of London

Two artists secretly placed various body parts around the city for you to find.

Rick Buckley hid 30 reproductions of his nose onto famous landmarks and public places as a protest against CCTV, which led to various urban myths when they were first discovered - like the one about the spare nose for Nelson’s column beneath Admiralty Arch. You can still find that one as well as six others, dotted around Great Windmill Street, Meard Street, Bateman Street, Dean Street, Endell Street and D'Arblay Street.

If you’re hungry for more, mysterious appendages, Tim Fishlock also glued casts of his own ear around London - there are two on Floral Steet, but he claims there are more to find around Covent Garden.

Multiple locations around Covent Garden, Great Windmill Street, Meard Street, Bateman Street, Dean Street, Endell Street and D'Arblay Street.


Giraffes in Regent’s Park

A secret footpath in Regent’s Park will lead you to real giraffes and penguins. It runs along the side of London Zoo, where you can admire the long-necked beauties, looking out over the hedges and peek through at the penguins splashing about, for free.

fake Downing Street door

Fake 10 Downing Street Door

Just around the corner from the real PM’s gaff, you’ll find a replica of his famous door on 7-10 Adam Street, just off The Strand. The doors were made at a similar time, both with the same 10 and strikingly similar neoclassical surroundings. But this one has no security preventing a doorstep photo to confuse your Insta mates.

House 7-10 Adam St, London WC2N 6AA

Paddington Station Clock

Trapped Man in Paddington’s Clock

Above Paddington Station, you can watch a man, inside a giant clock, painstakingly rubbing the hands and numbers off the face of the clock and redrawing them every minute. It was created by Dutch artist Martin Baas, who based the mysterious time keeper on the station’s architect Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Paddington, Praed St, London W2 1HU

Mithras temple

Underground Roman Temple for Mithras Cult

A secret Roman temple, created nearly 200 years after the founding of London for the mysterious cult of Mithras and hidden beneath the City of London? We’re in.

This extraordinary, immersive experience in London Mithraeum is staggeringly FREE. It was discovered during a building’s construction in 1954 and now sits beneath the Bloomberg London building.

The multi-sensory experience takes you seven metres below the city streets, where the river Walbrook once flowed, to where the Roman’s cult god, Mithras the bull slayer was once worshipped by cult followers shrouded in a veil of secrecy.

London Mithraeum 12 Walbrook, London EC4N 8AA

Mosaic shrine

A Shrine to Dreams in an Artist’s Home

Inside an unassuming terraced house in East Dulwich, you will find a mind-blowing museum to former art director, Stephen Wright’s dreams, life and loves and a monument to his deceased partner and parents.

Every surface is a shrine to the discarded and the weird, covered in mosaics and bursting with sculptures, found objects, thousands of broken dolls, teeth moulds, glasses and even the actor, Richard Ashton’s ponytail. Stephen lives there, but opens it to the public on select days each month.

House of Dreams, 45 Melbourne Grove, London SE22 8RG

Crossbones Garden

Cross Bones Graveyard and Garden

This bright ribbon and flower-festooned shrine and garden to the Medieval prostitutes (or “Winchester Geese”) and 18th Century paupers who were buried there can be found off a side street, near Borough Market. In 2004, Friends of the Crossbones was formed, made up of “sex workers, poets, activists, oddballs and outsiders” who have met at 7pm on the 23rd of every month since then at Cross Bones Garden, for the Crossbones Vigil to the Outcast

Crossbones Graveyard and Garden, Union St, London SE1 1TA

Hindu temple

Incredible Hindu Temple… in Neasden

You are many moons away from the well-trodden tourist track in these northwest London ‘burbs. But make the trek and you will be rewarded by the jaw-dropping sight of Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, a 70 feet high, Hindu Temple carved by 650 artisans from 8,000 tonnes of Indian and Italian marble and Bulgarian limestone.

This magnificent mandir is the largest Hindu temple outside India and will make it impossible to believe you are in what was one nicknamed ”the loneliest village in London.”

Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Pramukh Swami Road, Neasden, London NW10 8HW, UK

dog cemetery

Hyde Park's Secret Dog Cemetery

Tucked away on the edge of Hyde Park is a secret pet cemetery, where Victorians buried their faithful friends. Each stone has a touching story to tell, and the graveyard even features in Peter Pan - its author JM Barrie lived nearby. If you visit in the Spring, it is bursting with bluebells.

Hyde Park Secret Dog Cemetery, 41 Bayswater Rd, London W2 4RQ

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