Review: A Victorian Christmas at the Museum of London at The Wall #SantasGrotto

Museums have come a long way since my childhood when they were mostly a dreary collection of rooms containing dusty exhibits in glass cases and information cards with tiny print.

Watching my children having an awesome time experiencing what it might be like standing on the very edge of a skyscraper building in Hong Kong through the marvels of VR (virtual reality) at The Museum of London, it proved museums are no longer the slightly intimidating places they once were.

VR headset at The Museum of London

I had never been to the Museum of London  at The Wall, near the Barbican, and now I want to insist everyone within travelling distance should add it to their must-do list, with or without children. It's free to visit and there's so much to see you could make a whole day of it stopping for refreshment in the museum cafes or restaurants.

From pre-Roman times to the future, the museum presents exhibits and information in an interesting and accessible way which means visitors are learning without it seeming dry.

Activities at The Museum of London

I loved the room sets, showing how people lived in the past. The suffragettes exhibit was fascinating and hearing the voices of people talking about life during the war was incredibly moving and brought it home to me that soon those with living memories will be all gone and so it's vital we have these exhibits to preserve those memories and emotions.

The reproduction cinema showing black and white film of days gone by was brilliant and I thought it was funny that the children felt the old fashioned cinema seats were much more comfortable that the modern equivalent. Probably because they have been well worn in!

My daughter's favourite area was the Victorian Street which is where we got to meet Father Christmas. (Book slots online for £10 or book at the museum £11)

Santa at The Museum of London

My youngest son doesn't like confined and dark places, including many Christmas grottos, so we were pleased to see that Santa was seated in a large area with plenty of room for our larger than average SEN buggy and as many children as you might be taking.

The area was beautifully decorated and Santa was of course very welcoming in his hearthside chair.

A Victorian Christmas at The Museum of London

The children enjoyed chatting with him and got to take away a gift - they all got an old fashioned style game of Snap and I did see some children with wooden toys - a nice change from plastic tat.

Cute old fashioned gifts at The Museum of London

We had our picture taken (photographs available to buy for an extra fee starting at £8) then continued on with our exploration of the museum.

At lunchtime we popped into the London Wall Bar and Grill where we enjoyed some delicious pizza and some truly tasty skin-on fries. I looked on very enviously at diners eating food from the Christmas menu which looked and smelled amazing.

We were planning to move on to the West End to see the Christmas lights but the children insisted on going back into the museum which is a good indicator how great it is.

As an aside, as I mentioned we were using our SEN buggy and the whole museum is accessible whatever type of wheeled chariot you are using. Some of the lifts were quite small but it wasn't an issue for us -I took my son down and my husband and children used the stairs and met us at the bottom.

All in all I think this was a lovely calm excursion which the whole family enjoyed. The museum was busy but we all got to have a go on the interactive displays with very little waiting around and it was a nice contrast to the usual grotto venues which can be a bit hectic!

I'd advise building a Santa visit into a longer spell at the museum and don't forget to book as soon as you can, especially if you want a weekend slot as the man in red is proving very popular already!

Disclaimer: I was invited by Britmums to visit Santa at the Museum of London and enjoy lunch free for the purpose of this  honest review.