Quirky Kid Fun in Bloomsbury

The THATMuse blog has content pieces about the actual museums where you’re hunting, but we’ve also amassed plenty of recommendations of what to do in Paris and London apart from your museum time. Check out our Travelling in Paris & London category on the blog for pieces from kid-friendly parks, cafes and toyshops to romantic cocktail lounges near our museums.

Following a morning or afternoon on a THATMuse treasure hunt at the British Museum you may want to go scouting for off-the-beaten track treasures in blooming Bloomsbury, the museum’s intellectual (& green!) neighborhood. Mother of two and founder of THATMuse, Daisy de Plume lists her top five picks of Quirky Kid Fun in Bloomsbury. The following five are free and within 15 minutes by foot from the British Museum:   

Coram’s Fields

families with kids sat under trees near play park at Coram's Fields

This 7-acre park on the former site of the Foundling Hospital is a treasure trove of fun for the kiddies. From a flock of farm animals for all ages (from goats to chickens, parrots to bunnies) to a sandbox for tots, Coram’s Fields suits all. My 6-year old, Storsh, does a bee line for the challenging sling line (aka “Death Slide”) although half the time he just ogles in envy as heavier teens zoom past him with their speed zeal. For quick rain showers there’s a gazebo as well as a café within the open colonnade that serves toasties, hot chocolate and fruit. In the warmer months there’s also a lovely sunken fountain for the kids to go a-frolicking. For teens & adults the neighboring Foundling Museum tells you about how Handel donated his organ to the Foundling Hospital and William Hogarth designed the orphans’ costumes. 93 Guilford Street – 

St George’s Gardens

greenery, trees and graves in St George's Gardens

Another hidden treasure is the gorgeous gardens of an 18th century graveyard which only locals tend to cross. Off the beaten track, it’s no surprise it’s a destination for Geocaching families to track down. The gated entrance is at the end of the tiny road, Handel Street, which leads to the convenient Brunswick Center  (of Brutalist fame). Pick up some aluminum-wrapped chocolates at the ginormous Waitrose and using the supermarket’s back entrance hang a right to the gated entrance of St George’s garden, which bookends the tiny Handel Street.  Sprinkle your chocolates about the flowered garden and send your kids on a treasure hunt of their own in the park, or just play hide and go seek among the enormous plane trees, some dating to the 1750s! 1 Handel St –     

Pollock’s Toy Museum

colourful painted facade of Pollock's Toy Museum with windows full d vintage toys

Family run since it was started in an attic in 1956, this precious toy museum was always my Bloomsbury treat when I was a kid visiting from the States. Named for Benjamin Pollock, Ltd, which was the last of the Victorian toy theater print companies, their collection of children’s theatre sets is wonderful. Split between two houses (one from the 1780s, the other from 1880s), you can skip the museum for the wonderfully antiquated toyshop on the ground floor where you’ll find reasonably priced Villac kites, beautiful travel sets of checkers, chess or backgammon & colorful wood toys such as a Jacob’s Ladder. 1 Scala Street –       

Russell Square

Path, benches, fountain and cafe in Russell Square London

RStorsh has the luck of being trilingual (& the bad luck of being culturally confused). As such has made many an international friend in the central fountain of Russell Square. If you have a change of clothes for them pick up a sandwich at the museum and bring it to the neighboring park where kids are bound to find other like-minded imps splashing about in the bursting fountain. The green of the park encourages clusters of picnickers, or there’s a Russell Square café which has Italian gelati or hot chocolate to warm up after their dunking!

Jeremy Bentham

Philosophy gawking… How better to get your kids to remember the 19th centuryphilosopher and founder of Utilitarianism than to visit his wax corpse?!? He presides over the University College London (UCL) from a glass box, he requested that his skeleton should be preserved and dressed in his own clothes. Talk about English eccentricities! The “spiritual founder of UCL”, he’s been known to attend the University’s council meetings (in 2013 he was recorded as “present but not voting”), but when this happens it takes 3 people to move him as he’s bolted to chair in a glass box (on display for anyone to visit) and must be moved in one piece! I always recommend this to families who have chosen the Skull Scouting THATMuse at the British Museum, to take their treasure hunting outside the museum! UCL directions to Jeremy (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/access-ucl/self-guided-tour)

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