Sunday, April 14, 2024

Walking with Keilyn: Gunnersbury Park & Museum

The lawns at Gunnersbury Park
The view from the mansion.

Friday April 12, 2024.

As it was the last day of the Easter holidays, and my last day of annual leave, Keilyn and I decided to take a trip to London, but chose an area that neither of us had visited before. 

Our journey began as usual with us catching a Metropolitan line train to Northwick Park, where we waited for just a few minutes for an Uxbridge bound train, which we took to Rayners Lane, where we took a Piccadilly line train to Acton Town. Keilyn was super excited, as she had never been on the Piccadilly line before. Arriving at Acton Town we walked the ten minutes to the grounds of Gunnersbury Park & Museum.

Gunnersbury Park & Museum map
A map of Gunnersbury Park.

We entered the mansion and found ourselves at the shop/reception, where we were given a guide map and shown the best route to take. As the museum is free I made a donation, which, after our visit, I could easily have doubled. Our first stop was to the toilets, which were used by the Rothschild's as a 'Strong Room' before being converted, and then we were off to the Butler's Pantry, where the 'Object Detectives' interactive event was being held. We were joined by four other children and their families and then the event began.

The three organisers began by explaining that we would be shown five items and we were to work out what they were, how old they were, what they were made of, etc.. 
  • The first item was a scallop shell with a (replica) hard mixture on its surface, along with what looked like dried grass. 
  • The second items were a piece of broken green-tinted glass and a small green-tinted glass bottle, which we had to wear white gloves to handle.
  • The third items were white cloth hoods.
  • The fourth item was a copper with a hinged lid, which was attached to a long wooden handle.
  • The fifth item was a canvas and metal contraption, with a clear plastic 'window' and a hard plastic downpipe coming from its left side.
Answers at the bottom of the page.

Once we had deduced the what, where, why, who, when and how for each of the items, with Keilyn working out most of them, we made our way off to the next part of the mansion.

Our next stop was Servants' Hall, which was where the indoor servants ate their meals. The servants used this room for recreational activities, too. Now it is home to the 'Toys and Games' gallery, although many of the original features of the room still survive to this day, including the fireplace.

Servants' Hall
Servants' Hall fireplace.

Dalek Toys
Toy Daleks.

The next stop on our tour was to the Victorian kitchens that include a pastry room, scullery, chef's room and butchery. These rooms were particularly impressive and Keilyn was constantly asking questions of the volunteer, which showed her interest in the place.

Victorian Kitchen
The Victorian Kitchen.

From here we headed to the Rothschild Rooms that include the Dining Room and the Long Gallery, both of which have amazing views out across the lawns, across one of the ponds and the surrounding grounds. 

The Long Gallery and Dining Room
The Long Gallery looking towards the Dining Room.

Then we headed to the third of the Rothschild rooms, the Drawing Room, where an exhibition of prosthetic design for television and film was on display. It was in this room that we first noticed the sign "PLEASE TOUCH". We would soon realise that nearly everything we would see could be interacted with, unless specifically stated, which makes a change from most museums and stately homes that we have visited.

The Drawing Room
A moulded alien face... and Keilyn.

Our next visit was to the 'People and Place' gallery, which delves into the local history of Ealing and Hounslow. A fascinating collection of artefacts were on display charting the entire history of the area.

Historic finds
Prehistoric finds.

Ancient coins
Ancient coins.

We then headed up the grand staircase, where we entered the 'Leisure' gallery, where film, sports, television, theatre and musical traditions , from the local communities, were all on display. This included the rich film studio and BBC history of the area, and how Ealing and Hounslow became known around the globe.

Marvin the Paranoid Android
Marvin the Paranoid Android.

Passport to Pimlico poster
Passport to Pimlico poster.

Movie posters
Now Showing.

From here we headed to the 'Home' gallery, where there was an exhibition BBC Television VFX, with countless models and props from Doctor Who, The Tripods, Star Cops and Blake's 7, to name but a few. 
A Cyberman stood in a corner, while interactive displays could be utilised or there were drawing boards, where you could draw your favourite alien, spaceship or whatever.

BBC Television VFX
If it can be imagined, it can be made.

BBC Television VFX
Blake's 7 Trooper gun.

BBC Television VFX
A Tripod.

BBC Television VFX
A model from Star Cops.

Please Touch

We then took the stairs up to the 'Fashion' gallery, where various items of clothing were on display. A wardrobe, to one side, was filled with various clothing from across the centuries, including hats and wigs, that children could try on, before strutting their stuff in front of a full-length mirror.

Fashion Gallery

Fashion Gallery
Japanese Fashion.

Morrissey Girls

Morrissey Girls
Keilyn wearing a Tricorn hat.

Across the hall was the 'Industry' gallery, showing how the local boroughs developed their trade and industry, that included agriculture, ready meals, swords and the waterways.

Industry Gallery
Industry from the nearby boroughs.

Industry Gallery
Industry from the nearby boroughs.

Industry Gallery
A sword.

Heading back down the stairs we entered the final part of the exhibition space, next to the shop, in the Special Exhibition gallery. 'Set to Stun: Designing & Filming Sci-Fi in West London'. Here we found more props, designs and more. We even got to smell what space 'smells' like, which wasn't particularly pleasant. 

Set to Stun
Set to Stun.

Set to Stun
Set to Stun.

Morrissey Girls
Keilyn is Set to Stun.

Suitably filled with new knowledge and ready to explore the grounds we headed back to the shop, where a notebook, pencil and fridge magnet were purchased, before we headed out on to the sprawlings grounds to eat our lunch.

The Orangery
Our lunchtime view.

Now that we had eaten we set off to explore the 72 hectares of Grade II listed parkland. There were countless trees, each with plaque telling you what it was and where it had been brought from, while countless wild flower beds and rotting trees ensured bugs and beasties had a home. The lawns guided you towards the Orangery and the Horseshoe Pond, while signposts along the paths ensured that you didn't miss anything. After visiting the Lost Tennis Court, we continued our circuit, which brought us back to the mansion, where we purchased a coffee and a hot chocolate.

Gunnersbury Museum
Looking back towards the mansion.

The Lost Tennis Court
Keilyn holding court in the Lost Tennis Court.

Wild Bluebells.

Then it was back to exploring, with Keilyn taking the lead. She took us to the Small Mansion and on to Princess Amelia's Bath-house, which has an interior designed like a grotto, with walls inlaid with shells, glass, minerals and rocks. 

Small Mansion
Small Mansion.

Princess Amelia's Bath-house gardens
Princess Amelia's Bath-house gardens.

We then walked through the Heritage Orchard towards the Stables, passing 'ruins' that looked old, but on closer inspection appeared to be more 'folly' like. 

Heritage Orchard
Heritage Orchard.

Not as old as it appears.

Keilyn in an archway.

More bug hotels and meadows spread out before us, but the heat and the mass of park still to explore, Keilyn and I decided to call it a day, promising to return to explore all of the park on another occasion.

So, we made our way back towards Acton Town station, stopping for an ice cream on the way, before boarding a Piccadilly line train to Rayners Lane, where we jumped on an Aldgate bound Metropolitan line train to Harrow-on-the-Hill station, before making our final change on to a Watford bound train.

A short walk later and we were home and while I sat down to rest my legs, Keilyn went straight to the playground to see her friends. 

It is definitely a place that we will return to, as there is still so much we didn't see.

Distance travelled:
  • Car - 0.0 miles
  • Taxi - 0.9 miles
  • Train - 0.0 miles
  • Underground - 36 miles
  • Walking - 3.4 miles
Clicking the links below will take to images of the day.

Click the link below to see a video from our day.

For more information click the link below.

Opening times

Open daily: 7am – dusk

Monday: closed (excluding booked school visits and bank holidays)
Tuesday - Sunday: 10am - 4.30pm

Answers to the 'Object Detectives' items.
  • A stone age candle made from a shell, with melted animal fat and grass
  • Roman era glass bowl and scented oil bottle
  • Cloth hoods were worn when in the kitchen, as cleaning your hair happened so irregularly
  • A bed warmer that was filled with coal or ash
  • An Avon 1939 baby gas mask that covered the entire baby


  1. Great write up. Great pics. Glad you included the Blake's 7 gun. Whole place looks fascinating, as do the grounds. I think Martin and I will be joining you very soon for a visit.

    1. That sounds great. The Set to Stun exhibition finishes at the beginning of May.