The Fan Museum – Greenwich

One of the great things about London is its museums. Everyone knows about the famous ones that are on the main tourist trail, but we also have dozens of small and lesser-known museums, dedicated to more specialist and unusual themes. A great example of this is The Fan Museum in Greenwich, which showcases fans dating from the 11th century to the present day.

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The Queen Victoria Fan c1840

Located in a lovely Georgian house in Crooms Hill, close to the centre of historic Greenwich, the museum has a collection of over 4,000 items, though not all can be displayed at once due to the limited space available. What the curators do, however, is to have half the space as a permanent display with the other half as a changing thematic exhibition.

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The Carlton Restaurant Fan 1925

I never imagined I would be remotely interested in a display of fans, but I have to say it was a fascinating place to visit. There are fans of historical interest from around the world as well as some by famous artists such as Dali, Gauguin and Sickert; so many of the display items have exceptionally beautiful artwork and show the highest level of craft skills.

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The Intervention of the Sabine Women c1750

Interestingly, there is a City Livery Company called the Worshipful Company of Fan Makers – a kind of trade organisation for the fan makers of today – and there are a number of historical items from that Company on display in the Fan Museum.

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Tea & Cake

I must mention the afternoon tea which is available in the Orangery, overlooking a beautiful garden. It’s very popular, so booking is essential at weekends. Expect lots of cake, including classic Victoria sponge, lemon drizzle and brownie as well as the usual scones with cream and jam – calorific!

I really enjoyed my visit to The Fan Museum and would definitely recommend it; allow about 45 minutes plus time for tea. There’s also a museum shop with plenty of gift inspiration.


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