Hidden London : Hornimans Museum & Gardens , From Tea Dynasty to Tea Room

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Horniman Museum & Gardens

The Horniman Museum is a museum in Forest Hill, London. Commissioned in 1898, it opened in 1901 and was designed by Charles Harrison Townsend in the Arts and Crafts style.

It is a non-departmental public body of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and is constituted as a company and registered charity under English law.


The museum’s Natural History gallery showing the distribution of modern humans.

The museum was founded in 1901 by Frederick John Horniman. Frederick had inherited his father’s Horniman’s Tea business, which by 1891 had become the world’s biggest tea trading business.

The cash from the business allowed Horniman to indulge his lifelong passion for collecting, and which after travelling extensively had some 30,000 items in his various collections, ranging from natural history, cultural artifacts and musical instruments.

In 1911, an additional building to the west of the main building, originally containing a lecture hall and library, was donated by Frederick Horniman’s son Emslie Horniman. This was also designed by Townsend.


The Horniman specialises in anthropology, natural history and musical instruments and has a collection of 350,000 objects. The ethnography and music collections have Designated status. One of its most famous exhibits is the large collection of stuffed animals. It also has an aquarium noted for its unique layout.


The museum is set in 16 acres (65,000 m²) of gardens, which include the following features:

  • A Grade II listed conservatory from 1894 which was moved from
  • Horniman’s family house in Croydon to the present site in the 1980s.
  • A bandstand from 1912
  • An enclosure for small animals
  • A nature trail
  • An ornamental garden
  • Plants for materials; medicines; foods and dyes
  • A sound garden with large musical instruments for playing

A new building, the Pavilion, for working on materials that are outside of the collections, such as from the gardens.

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