Our great capital has more than 170 museums with 11 national museums. My love of culture, museums and galleries was hard wired into my DNA at birth as I was born at Crystal Palace – the former site of the world’s first ‘theme park’ offering education and mass entertainment, displays, festivals, shows and exhibitions.
Later on in life, and right on the doorstep of my London flat, I could enjoy one of the big players, The National Maritime Museum, alongside these bijoux offerings: brunel-museum.org.uk and thefanmuseum.org.uk.
This view from the balcony of my London flat (above) shows the major business and financial centre across the Thames in Canary Wharf. Tucked away in this glossy, corporate labyrinth is a key link with its historic past – The Museum of Docklands.
And then there is the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust, a little gem located at the Woolwich Arsenal, where my dad worked during the war.
Bookshops and public libraries
London has more than 800 bookshops and over 380 public libraries including the British Library. My favourite bookshop is Persephone Books. And my favourite study libraries are based at the wonderfully inclusive German Historical Institute and The Goethe Institut in Kensington.
A third of all the UK’s archives are in London including the National Archives that date back to the 11th century and preserve William the Conqueror’s Domesday survey.
West End shows
From the first performance of Shakespeare at The Globe in 1599 there are now at least 200 shows to choose from every day across the West End. The National Theatre and its more grungy neighbour, The Menier Chocolate Factory are my regular treats. (Image below copyright Ewan Munro.)
Cinemas and comedy
There are 796 cinema screens in the capital, more than in any other part of the country. London presents more live comedy than any other city in the world. You probably know all about the red-carpet razzmatazz but dare to take the Northern Line Tube south of the river and go visit the Cinema Museum. A more upmarket archive with the same love of film is to be found at the BFI.