The UK’s most unusual museums you need to visit

Days out, Family, Activity, Educational

From pencils and teapots to witchcraft paraphernalia and cuckoo clocks, Britain is a land of eccentrics and is filled with bizarre and quirky museums of all manner and variety. If you’re looking for a day out with a difference, discover a slightly more alternative look into British history and culture where unique displays are intertwined with a sense of fun. Explore some of the more unconventional cabinets of curiosity with our guide to the UK's most unusual museums you need to visit.

Dog Collar Museum - Leeds Castle, Maidstone

Easily one of the country’s most eccentric museums, the Dog Collar Museum in Leeds Castle, North Yorkshire, is a must-visit for dog lovers. Although four-legged friends aren’t allowed inside the museum, doggie enthusiasts are sure to be impressed with this barking mad exhibit featuring over 100 collars spanning five centuries. The only museum of its kind in Britain, visitors are treated to some of the fanciest and most decadent canine neckwear in history from historic hunting collars right up to the glitzy, fashionable styles of today – it is a testament to mankind’s obsession with dogs.

Museum of Witchcraft - Boscastle, Cornwall

Possibly the creepiest museum in the south, 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. Those with brave souls may want to try one of the museum’s late night candlelit evenings.

Derwent Pencil Museum - Keswick


Giants are in luck -- it's the world's biggest pencil!

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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.

Cuckooland - Cheshire

Discover a collection of over 600 ticking timepieces at Cuckooland, a unique museum in Cheshire displaying over 300 years of cuckoo clock history. Established by the Piekarski brothers who have been gathering clocks made in the Blackforest Region of Central Europe for 40 years, the museum boasts some of the rarest and most notable example 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.

House of Marbles - 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.

Lawnmower Museum - Southport


Lawn trike plus glamorous model #thelawnmowerlife

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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!

The Bakelite Museum - Somerset


What knew Bakelite has so much to offer 😯

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Spend a happy hour or two at the Bakelite Museum, browsing all the things you remember from your childhood in the days before the novelty of the internet existed. Ranging from the naughty nineties to the swinging sixties, you will find thousands of Bakelite products in a variety of colours and sizes including a Bakelite coffin and even a spy camera. Located within a 17th century watermill in Somerset with a sign above the entrance reading ‘The material of a thousand uses’, this novel place full of vintage plastic certainly ticks the box for one of the oddest museums in the UK.

Teapot Island - Kent


Brunch at Teapot Island, before our pottery workshop #tea #teapots #alltheteapots

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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, 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!

The Smallest House in Great Britain - Conwy

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 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 quite the tourist 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 of its tiny bedroom and living area and browse the historical photos and items inside – it’s a real eye-opener. Mirror

Telephone Box Museums - Pembrokeshire and West Yorkshire

If you thought The Smallest House in Great Britain was the tiniest museum in Britain, think again! We have found a couple of fascinating museums in the UK, that you may have even driven past without realising it. 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. From the Red Phone Booth Museum in Cilgerran in Pembrokeshire to the Warley Museum near Halifax in West Yorkshire, curious displays have been hidden inside and are waiting to be found.

If you have been inspired by these unusual museums in the UK, we’ve got some great holiday cottages all over Britain. Why not have a browse of our collection and start planning your next getaway?

Posted by Kate Atkin on 27th April 2018