The most Quirkiest museums in London : Part 2
They say: “A dog is a man’s best friend.”
Agree? : “Yes!”
Well, they also say: “A doll is a child’s best friend.”
Agree? : “Not anymore!”
What is Pediophobia?
Popular horror flicks such as Annabelle and Chucky have made us believe that dolls are indeed a medium through which otherworldly entities can enter into our dimension. Pediophobia, as it is so called, is said to be an irrational fear of these innocent inanimate objects which pose no actual threat in real life. It is mostly caused by the fear of the unknown and is known to affect both adults and children at almost the same level.
Museum of Dolls
Located in the far corner of Scala Street in the London Borough of Camden is a toy museum which can make a Pediophobic’s worst nightmares come true! Also, if you are the kind of person who thinks that dolls are cute and cuddly, then this place will most certainly prove you wrong! Let’s just say that an old dusty porcelain doll from the 1970s with a cracked face and glassy eyes is absolutely NOT cute and cuddly!
The Pollock’s Toy Museum was created and designed during the1950s and 60s by Marguerite Fawdry. It is a museum and toy shop housing tin toys, dolls and teddy bears of all shapes and sizes. The museum consists of 4 floors and has an admission fee of £7 for adults, £6 for students and £4 for children.
However, it is ironic that parents are often advised not to bring young children to this museum despite it being called a ‘toy’ museum. This is because some of the artefacts on display are downright unsettling and may bring about a sense of unease even among grown-ups!
Will you be greeted by bloodthirsty dolls as you enter?
Absolutely not! The entry is quite peaceful and you are greeted by the friendly shop owner who hands you a pamphlet as you pay the admission fee. This pamphlet is your guide through the museum, so don’t you dare lose it! Else you may lose your way and the dolls will come and get you! Just Kidding! Well, the pamphlet contains details of all the toys and the dates when the museum became their home.
As you enter the doorway to the right, you can catch sight of American and Japanese toys from the 1800s. Nothing out of the ordinary! The staircase to your left leads to the first floor where you enter the first room. Guess what? It’s a boy’s den! One wall of the room is adorned by an antique rocking horse from the 1840s.
Towards your right you can spot some tiny toy cars and trucks. Oh…just some ancient matchbox toys dating back from before World War 2! Some dead kids played with these before you were even born and there you stand, staring at them with memories of your childhood flashing through your head!
To your left, you can find magic lanterns as well as optical and kaleidoscopic toys dating back from the 1860s. There is indeed no toy that this place hasn’t adopted!
Ascending up the stairs will take you back to the nostalgic world of snakes and ladders and other board games from the early 1900s. The second floor has a room filled with toy theatres enclosed in glass cases. Theatres were a great source of entertainment for kids back in the Victorian times and were largely exported by Pollocks based in Hoxton, after whom this museum has been named.
These theatres allowed kids to put on performances and bring their favorite fairy tale characters to life, including popular ones like Cinderella and Aladdin. Now, although you might be an Instagram addict, looking at these will certainly make you wonder how amazing life was before gadgets were invented!
Welcome to the Doll Zone….
Don’t worry, you aren’t in the scare zone yet….but this is where it starts! As you climb up 6 steps, you enter a room which was built in the 1780s. A scatter of old wax dolls will catch your attention as you pass through another door and enter a 4th room.
This room has a collection of scraps, toy soldiers and teddy bears. One interesting teddy bear is Eric (born in 1905) which is said to be the oldest known teddy bear to exist.
Enclosed in a glass case is another interesting artefact worth looking at. The wax doll Freda and her lifelong teddy partner William. They both are an interesting pair and have been believed to have “never parted”. Although looking at Freda might give you the chills, her partner William is a “handsome” bear.
Walking towards the far corner of the room, you can catch sight of exotic doll houses from the mid 1800s. The houses are rather big and finely detailed and resemble French villas and mansions.
The intricate details of the interiors of the doll houses are also a thing to admire. However, the dolls seated within are tiny and creepy. You definitely wouldn’t want to stare at them for too long!
Welcome to Room 5 : The room which most people don’t dare to enter
As they all say….the best is always reserved for the last…
“Well, maybe it isn’t as bad as I think….” you wonder out loud as you walk up the stairs to Room 5 on the second floor. Ask yourself first….Are you pediophobic? Then this room is NOT for you! Turn back now! But otherwise, be prepared to feel the glassy stares of more than a 100 dolls on you! However, if you are by any chance a doll lover, then this room is no less than heaven for you!
In fact, the entire room is devoted to dolls. Not only are there doll cases in every corner of the room, there are also a number of cases nailed to the walls. So there are literally dolls all around you! Indeed a pediophobic’s nightmare-come-true…You can see a glass case in the centre of the room with an old puppet doll sitting inside it.
Walking straight ahead will take you to a huge showcase lined with life-sized girl dolls from top to bottom. These dolls although elegantly dressed in pearly and flamboyant costumes emanate a sort of eerie vibe which will make your skin crawl.
On the far wall opposite to this showcase, you will find another showcase filled with more dolls which are however smaller in size but still not less creepy than the life-sized ones you just saw behind you!
Moreover, there is an alcove in one corner of the room which resembles a girl’s nursery in the 1900s. Native American dolls, baby dolls in prams, rag dolls, celluloid and wood dolls and china dolls are few out of the many varieties you can see here.
Well, you never know…there could be a doll like Annabelle somewhere around you…
“Oops! Did I just hear someone giggle behind me?”
“Nope! No one there…just a bunch of creepy dolls in glass cases staring through my soul…”
“Ohhh hell naaaa! I’m outta here!”
And down the stairs you go…..
While you hurry down the stairs, you catch a glimpse of more glassy eyed dolls sitting inside similar looking glass cases like the ones you just saw….as you reach the ground floor, you see a room filled with toys for sale. Antique hand puppets and a pile of board games from the 80s and 90s sit there on the desk waiting to be picked up and bought. Scanning through the room will amaze you as you realise how jolly a life these kids lived those days, much unlike the geeky technology-obsessed kids you see these days…glued to their phones playing PUBG all day….(no offence, I used to play it too!)
Walking ahead will take you back to where you started. The friendly shop owner will allow you to check out more items on the counter, including the toy theatres you just saw upstairs. These are for sale and you can actually go ahead and buy them! There are also a variety of options to choose from! The one that did catch my eye was the Dracula themed toy theatre!
That’s all folks! And out you go…back to the 21st century!
But of course…you can still see those glass-eyed, cracked-faced dolls in your dreams…
Just kidding!! Hope you enjoyed the article! Have a good day!