The UK’s most unusual museums you need to visit

Days out, Family, Activity, Educational

Posted by Kate Atkin on 23rd December 2021

The UK’s most unusual museums you need to visit

If you love to seek out the weird and wonderful on your holiday, then our guide to obscure museums ought to interest you. Our realm is full of eccentrics, and as a nation, the British have proved that almost anything can be collected together and kept in a museum, from pencils and teapots to witchcraft paraphernalia and cuckoo clocks. If you’re looking for a day out with a difference, to discover a slightly more alternative look into British history and culture where unique displays are intertwined with a sense of fun, then you're in luck as you're never very far away from an unusual museum when you go on holiday. 

Explore the labyrinth of unconventional cabinets of curiosity with our guide to the UK's most peculiar museums. For even more inspiration read our guide about the top ten odd things to do on your summer holiday

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Head this way for the quirky and weird museums of the UK

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Unusual museums in the Lake District

Unusual museums in the Lake District

Derwent Pencil Museum - Keswick, Lake District

Celebrating all things pencil related, the Derwent Pencil Museum boasts a fine array of graphite goodies including a Second World War secret pencil collection and the Guinness World Record-holding, biggest colouring pencil in the world (a staggering eight metres long). Located in Keswick, where graphite was first mined for pencils, visitors enter the museum through a replica graphite mine and follow the fascinating history of pencil production from the reign of Elizabeth I to the present day. As you would expect, there’s plenty of opportunities for drawing with a variety of art workshops for both children and adults, while the Derwent Fine Art gift shop is the perfect spot to pick up the renowned brand’s writing tools to try at home.

Further interesting museums in the Lake District:

  • Ruskin Museum - See paintings by John Ruskin and for part of the year, Donald Campbell's awe-inspiring Bluebird K7
  • The World of Beatrix Potter - Meet the characters from Beatrix Potter's legendary children's books

Stay nearby:

Charlotte Cottage | Sleeps: 4 guests + 1 dog

Lake District cottages


Unusual museums in the Peak District

Unusual museums in the Peak District

Cuckooland - near the Peak District

Discover a collection of over 600 ticking timepieces at Cuckooland, a unique museum in Cheshire that is within driving distance of the Peak District National Park. Displaying over 300 years of cuckoo clock history, the museum, first established by the Piekarski brothers, is a collection of clocks gathered from and made in the Blackforest Region of Central Europe; the museum boasts some of the rarest and most notable examples of cuckoo clocks in the world. From cuckoo to quail and trumpeter clocks, you will hear them all chirping at random during your visit – it’s like stepping into Alice’s Wonderland of clocks.

Further interesting museums in the Peak District:

Stay nearby:

Clough Brook Cottage | Sleeps: 4 guests + 2 dogs

Peak District cottages


Unusual museums in Cornwall

Unusual museums in Cornwall

Museum of Witchcraft - Boscastle, Cornwall

Very definitely the creepiest museum in the South West, the Museum of Witchcraft is home to a mysterious collection of occult and witch-related history and artefacts. Found in the sleepy fishing village of Boscastle on the North Cornwall coast, there are voodoo dolls, Ouija boards, spell books, and dead cats to see as well as vats of interesting potions and spell ingredients. Brave souls may want to try one of the museum’s late-night candlelit evenings.

Further interesting museums in Cornwall:

  • Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station - Go on a tour of the 60 satellite dishes located at this remote site on The Lizard
  • Telegraph Museum - Down below the Minack Theatre in Porthcurno, this curious museum is home to one of end of an old Transatlantic comms cable

Stay nearby: 

Rivers Brink | Sleeps: 4 guests + 1 dog

Cornwall cottages


Unusual museums in Devon

Unusual museums in Devon

House of Marbles - Bovey Tracey, Devon

Delighting children and big kids alike, the House of Marbles in Devon is a museum bonanza with a pottery, glass, and marble section, and vintage games museum all in one. In the Glass and Marble Museum watch hypnotic and interactive marble runs, discover the process involved in making these famous little glass balls and see a fish marble that costs £800 – who doesn’t get excited by marbles? The Games Museum is sure to spark a childhood memory or two while the Pottery Museum brings the past to life right before your eyes with a variety of informative displays.

Further interesting museums in Devon:

  • The Fairground Heritage Trust: Step back in time to see old fairground rides and learn about the history of the travelling fair
  • Cobbaton Tank Museum: See this impressive collection of tanks, army vehicles, and military paraphernalia in the remote Devon countryside

Stay nearby:

Rydon Inn House | Sleeps: 7 guests

Devon cottages


Unusual museums on the South Coast

Unusual museums on the South Coast

Teapot Island - Maidstone, South Coast

Britain is a nation of tea lovers, so where better to appreciate this much-revered drink than at Teapot Island in Kent. This interesting visitor attraction holds two awards in the Guinness Book of World Records for the incredible number of teapots of all shapes, sizes, and value on display here. Peruse the ever-growing collection which currently stands at around 6,700 including rare designs like Princess Diana, Doctor Who, and Star Wars pots, or have a go at creating and painting your own teapot and visit the well-stocked gift shop. No visit is complete without indulging in a delicious cream tea served with homemade jam, real Cornish clotted cream and of course, a warm pot of tea. Divine!

Further interesting museums on the South Coast:

  • Dog Collar Museum  - Check out this fascinating gathering of dog collars at lovely Leeds Castle
  • The Historic Boatyard -  Visit one of the UK's most extensive collections of ships, boats and submarines

Stay nearby:

Coldharbour Barn | Sleeps: 2 guests 

South Coast cottages


Unusual museums in The Cotswolds

Unusual museums in The Cotswolds

Purton Ship Graveyard - Berkeley, Gloucester

The Purton Ship Graveyard is an 'accidental' museum that exists along the eastern bank of the River Severn close to Stroud and Gloucester. About 86 ships have been intentionally beached between Sharpness and Purton since 1909, making it the largest inland ghost fleet in the UK. For boat enthusiasts, this is a wonderful chance to see all manner of boat wrecks up close. Many are little more than skeletons, but it's a fantastic walk along the Severn Way nonetheless, as you can follow The Gloucester and Sharpness Canal that runs parallel to the River Severn for most of the museum's length. Most of the ships have helpful information plaques next to them so you can learn about each vessel's history.

Further interesting museums in The Cotswolds: 

Stay nearby: 

Shears Cottage | Sleeps: 6 guests + 2 dogs

Cotswolds cottages


Unusual museums in the East of England

Unusual museums in the East of England

The Hippodrome Circus Museum, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

The iconic Hippodrome Circus in Great Yarmouth is the UK's only surviving purpose-built circus building. Besides its programme of wonderful 'big top' shows, it is home to a museum where you can see a collection of artefacts that span the history of the circus in the UK from the early 20th century to date. Built in 1903, the building was hailed as one of the seven wonders of the seaside, and it really is an impressive building. It's certainly one of the country's strangest and entertaining museums. Among the items and places you can see are the former engine room, over 100 clown's heads, legions of posters, old magic props, and a recreation of one of Harry Houdini's escape tanks!

Further interesting museums in the East of England:

Stay nearby: 

The Old Warehouse | Sleeps: 4 guests + 1 dog

East of England cottages


Unusual museums in Yorkshire

Unusual museums in Yorkshire

Telephone Box Museum - Halifax, Yorkshire

We have found a fascinating museum in the UK that you may have even driven past without realising it, it is so tiny. The iconic red phone box is one of those elements of design that’s instantly recognisable as British. In the age of the mobile phone, many are now being abandoned as they’re no longer needed, however, some are cleverly being turned into museums, giving them a new lease of life. One such example is the Warley Museum near Halifax in West Yorkshire, which is home to a historical look at the village through the decades.

Further interesting museums in Yorkshire:

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Daisy Lea Barn | Sleeps: 11 guests + 3 dogs

Yorkshire cottages


Unusual museums in the North of England

Unusual museums in the North of England

Lawnmower Museum - Southport, North of England

Who would have thought there was an entire museum devoted to the humble lawnmower? From a solar-powered robot lawnmower to lawnmowers used for racing and even a lawnmower that stands just two inches tall, there are over 200 exhibits on show at the British Lawnmower Museum in Southport, some dating back as far as 1830. If you’ve ever wondered what the lawnmowers of the rich and famous are like, this quirky museum also houses gardening equipment once owned by HRH Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Brian May, and Paul O’Grady, among others – avid horticulturists are sure to be in their element!

Further interesting museums in the North of England:

  • Woodhorn Museum - Learn about the life of a coal miner at this superb museum at a former colliery
  • The Beatles Story - Head to Liverpool for the ultimate Beatles experience on the banks of the River Mersey

Stay nearby:

Stay On Board | Sleeps: 4 guests + 1 dog

North of England cottages


Unusual museums in Scotland

Unusual museums in Scotland

The Museum of Childhood, Edinburgh

The Museum of Childhood first opened on Edinburgh's Royal Mile in 1955. Designed to evoke memories of childhood and days gone by with its hordes of memorabilia and antique toys and games, this place really does take you on a delightful journey. There are also touring exhibitions of private collections of rare toys from different periods. The museum has five large galleries stuffed to the rafters with dolls, jigsaws, toy vehicles, figurines, games consoles and so much more. Nostaligists will be utterly transported back into the past at this thoughtful museum.

Further interesting museums in Scotland:

  • The Devil's Porridge Museum: Visit the endlessly interesting site of the former WW1 munitions factory built on the border at Gretna Green
  • Loch Ness Exhibition: Learn all about the history of Scotland's world-famous loch and its equally well-known 'resident', the Loch Ness Monster

Stay nearby: 

The Albany | Sleeps: 4 guests

Scotland cottages


Unusual museums in Wales

Unusual museums in Wales

The Smallest House in Great Britain - Conwy, North Wales

This obscure British museum is a hidden gem that is well worth a look when you’re visiting Conwy in Wales. Recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the UK’s tiniest house, The Smallest House in Great Britain is a mecca for mini-home spotters the world over. Dating back to the 16th century, this pint-sized home measures only ten feet tall by six feet wide and is a cool visitor attraction, despite the fact that most visitors aren’t able to stand up inside. It was surprisingly last occupied by a fisherman, Robert Jones who stood at a whopping six feet and three inches tall! For a £1 entry fee, you can have a peek into its tiny bedroom and living area and browse the historical photos and items inside – it’s a real eye-opener.

Further interesting museums in Wales:

  • National Wool Museum - Wales is an apt location for a museum that celebrates all things woollen - enjoy or get knitted
  • Little Italy - The most obscure and hard-won of Wales' attractions is this hidden model village high up in slate mine country

Stay nearby:

The Tardis | Sleeps: 5 guests + 2 dogs

Wales cottages


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