On the edges of old Twickenham town centre is a small house and a small museum, and it’s, well, it’s very small indeed. It’s not that Twickenham lacks history but that the museum lacks the square footage to tell the story.

It does have one remarkable redeeming feature, but more about that later.

The museum is in an old Georgian house that was once home to a local watermen family. When its final owner, local conservation campaigner Jack Ellis, died thirty years ago, he donated the building to become a museum.

As a museum, it’s marginally better now than it was as it’s recently had a refurbishment, which would be remarkably difficult to spot if you hadn’t been before as it still looks like what it is — a small museum squashed into a small house.

Head inside, and they’re very keen for you to sign the guest book. Then, take the narrow stairs to the main exhibition space—all one room of it.

Filling a lot of the space is the main reason to visit — a very large scale model of Hampton Court Palace.

The model was made in the 1960s by the self-taught film model maker George Sidney Brown, and apart from palaces, he built models for 2001 A Space Odyssey — from outer space to olden tudor.

You can tell the model is from the 1960s, partly because a sign tells you, but also because there are cars parked right in front of the palace from when that was the usual thing to do when visiting a historic building. It’s a niggle to point out of course that Hampton Court Palace isn’t in Twickenham, but at least the model is on display somewhere.

The rest of the room is given over to the sort of local history that local history museums love to tell, from old bones to old stones and old homes.

In this case, apart from the obvious literary sorts, such as Alexander Pope and a host of titled nobles, the most significant would be the Twining family, which moved to Twickenham around 300 years ago. Several display cases and display boards tell the tale of the Twinings in Twickenham.

Unsurprisingly for a riverside location, expect a lot about boat races — although not the boat race, as that starts closer to the centre of London.

Overall, a modest little museum about Twickenham is saved by having a large model of something that’s not part of Twickenham in it.

The Twickenham Museum is open just ten hours a week — on Friday and Saturday from 11am to 3pm and on Sundays from 2pm to 4pm. It’s free to visit and can be found around the corner from St Mary’s Church.

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9 comments
  1. Terry Smith says:

    Nice review but repeats a common mistake. Hampton Court was in the old brough of Twickenham and is now part of the London Borough of Richmond.
    The palace has a postal address in Moseley Surrey but that is for Royal Mail’s convenience as the post comes via that town. The palace is north of the Thames
    within Greater London so the model is rightly in the Twickemham Museum
    rightly is the Twickemham museum.

  2. Terry Smith says:

    Nice review but repeats a common mistake. Hampton Court was in the old brough of Twickenham and is now part of the London Borough of Richmond.
    The palace has a postal address in Moseley Surrey but that is for Royal Mail’s convenience as the post comes via that town. The palace is north of the Thames
    within Greater London so the model is rightly in the Twickemham Museum .

  3. Richard says:

    If you are heading to Twickenham it’s also worth stopping at the Italian Fountain, Orleans House Gallery and the river walk to Richmond.

  4. Claire Gordon says:

    I lived in Twickenham for 15 years and never knew this museum was here. I dont know if it says anything about Marble Hill House which has a fascinating historical account of the life of Henrietta Howard, the guides in there will be happy to tell you about it, you will leave feeling you have been back in time.

  5. Tina Rennett says:

    I think the review is unnecessarily disparaging and the writer has very little else to say other than what a mediocre attempt the museum makes. Small local museums deserve our support not our contempt.

    • ianVisits says:

      I am very happy to write good reviews of good museums – but I am not going to lie and pretend a museum isn’t what it is — my readers deserve an honest review, not one that’s been censored to sound better than it is.

  6. Jack Tarraway says:

    I totally agree, we need honest reports and feedback. However, I popped into this museum over the weekend. I’d never heard of it before. In fairness, if Ian had bothered to visit downstairs he would have learned why Hampton Cort forms part of the old borough of Twickenham. He also missed Professor Cockles the tin-can diver. Brilliant! And great old maps showing how it used to look around here. Upstairs as well as the Hampton Court model, there’s a Twinings tea family exhibit with some stunning porcelain. There’s lots about Thames Watermen and a nice bit on Eel Pie Island. Maybe Ian should return when he’s not in such a rush?

    • ianVisits says:

      I spent about half an hour in the museum – sorry if you think that is a rush, and as it’s just two rooms, I think that’s pretty good going.

  7. Jack Tarraway says:

    My apologies. No offence. It just reads that way, that’s all.

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