Pitt Rivers Museum

The Pitt Rivers Museum (Oxford, England)Interior2013

If old-fashioned anthropological morbidity is your cup of tea, then the Pitt Rivers Museum is the place for you!  A variety of artifacts from cultures all over the world (think shrunken heads and preserved skulls) in a ridiculously claustrophobic collection of cases (just look at that picture if you don’t believe me).  Have a look at the collection of artifacts photographed by Morbid Anatomy here.

Whitby Museum

Whitby Museum (Whitby, England)

The most popular attraction at this museum in the historic town of Whitby is a glory hand – the severed hand of a criminal. “There is one Hand of Glory which is stored at the Whitby Museum in North Yorkshire. It was found in an attic in a house in Eskdale. The hand was a greyish color. This color was the result of a preservation technique which involved the draining of the blood of the hand of a hanged criminal which had been cut off, and afterward using saltpeter and Lapland sesame to preserve it. The blood and fat the of the hanged man was then utilized to make a candle which would then be placed between the fingers of the Hand of Glory.” – House Shadow Drake
Is it any wonder that it’s the most popular item on display? Thanks to Amelia for the suggestion.

The Mary Rose

The Mary Rose (Portsmouth, England)

Riley suggested a trip to visit the Mary Rose – “Henry the Eighth’s overblown, top heavy ship (perhaps modelled on himself) which sank soon after launch and has since been raised”. (In all fairness, the Mary Rose sank 34 years after launch, which isn’t that soon.) The morbid aspect of the ship is that when it sank in 1545 it took several hundred of its crew with it. And lots of fascinating artifacts have been recovered from it, including syringes and bleeding bowls and other morbid little tidbits.

Tyburn Convent

Tyburn Convent (London, England)

Situated near the site of the infamous Tyburn Tree, the King’s gallows between 1196-1786, Tyburn Convent is dedicated to the memory of 105 Catholic martyrs who were executed here between 1535 and 1681. The actual Tree is no longer in existence, of course, but the convent is worth a quick stop to visit the crypt beneath the monastic church called Shrine of the Martyrs which has relics and mementoes of the martyrs, as well as a replica of the Tyburn Tree. Among the mementoes reportedly on display are bloodstained pieces of clothing, locks of hair, bone fragments, and even lengths of rope from the nooses! Twisted sisters, indeed!

Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum

Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum (London, England)

Matt sends the following recommendation: “The Chamber of Horrors is fab. There are waxworks of people being tortured etc. with lots of informative notes to accompany the figures. Did you know the Garrotte was the method used for Death Sentences in Spain? Gruesome. I thought the Garrotte simply strangled the victim but no, it’s got a spike in the front which slowly penetrates the victim’s windpipe, then their spinal cord. Only then do they choke. Oh, and it was last used in Spain in 1974! Anyway, there’s a really fun bit which only lasts about 3 minutes but you walk through a dungeon/asylum which is dimly lit and the lunatics (actors, not waxworks) creep up on you. It’s quite spooky, it makes you jump a lot, but god, what a laugh!”

Our morbid cohort Alf also went to the museum and took some pics:
Alf’s Madame Tussaud Page

The London Dungeon

The London Dungeon (London, England)

Sara writes to rave about The London Dungeon: “If you’re ever in London, England, the ‘London Dungeon’ is an absolutely amazing museum portraying the former brutality and astounding history of England and surrounding area. As soon as you enter you’re greeted with a group of talented actors that escort you into the building, then you proceed through the museum where there are tons of incredible exhibits of murders, tortures, and pretty much everything else macabre that has happened in this country’s past. Then you go into London’s famous prison system from the past centuries (including a trial, where you are charged and sentenced to death). Once you enter the prison, there you are shown real survivng torture intruments and structures. After that you are taken on mini boat ride and are shown more ways to perform an execution, The London Towers infamous ‘Traitors Gate’, and so on and so forth. Then the best part of the tour, the recreation of Whitechapel in the 1880’s where Jack The Ripper played. London’s claim to fame. You walk along dirty streets and beside you are the bodies of the prostitutes he killed strewn about. Then you go through a speculation to who Jack The Ripper really was. Then you witness the hanging of the man, from underneath the gallows. It looked and sounded so real, I thought I actually heard a neck snapping. And then comes the grand finally of the tour. ‘Theatre Of The Guillotine’, where you are a witness to a public execution. When the blade comes down a warm liquid is sprayed lightly over the crowd. When you start the exit, you’re hostly proudly proclaims to you, “Don’t worry, what you were sprayed with was not blood, it was urine.” The air even changes when you go into different parts of the tour, just for effectiveness. For example when you enter the prison, the air changes to a damp, stank, very cold air. The little details are what makes this museum so great. I highly recommend this museum as one of the top in the world.”