If taxidermy and the sound of children crying are what floats your boat then the Booth Museum in Brighton will be right up your street.
This natural history museum has been frightening children from Brighton and beyond since 1891. Where else can you see stuffed birds pecking the eyes out of dead lambs, a graveyard’s worth of bones or a monkey’s head mounted on a plinth? And all piled up high to the ceiling, smelling of death and mothballs? Modern museums seem so tame in comparison.
I once had cause to visit the Booth Museum after closing time and found myself alone, in the dark, in the middle of all this. Is it any wonder I’m given to funny turns?
The museum was originally founded by Edward Thomas Booth to display his collection of stuffed animals and bird-based dioramas. It was expanded in 1971 to include more items from the world of natural history, and the collection now includes over half a million insects, 50 thousand minerals, fossils and rocks and many skeletons and bones.
All of which is great if you like that sort of thing but not so good if you don’t. My children, who very much don’t like that sort of thing, have bad memories of being forced along to the Booth on school trips, or by me when it was raining.
This time we were in search of something very specific – Lin Manuel Miranda’s daemon.
If you’ve seen the TV adapation of His Dark Materials, then you’ll know that Lin Manuel Miranda’s character’s daemon appears in the form of a hare. How did it end up in a small, terrifying museum in Brighton? Apparently a couple of years ago, a production company borrowed one of the Booth’s collecton of stuffed hares, scanned digitised and animated it.
Here hare here, as they said in Withnail & I.
If you like bones, birds and a little bit of TV history, check out the Booth. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
How to get there
The Booth Museum Brighton is at 194 Dyke Road, Brighton BN1 5AA. It’s around 15 to 20 minutes’ walk from Brighton city centre. Open every day apart from Thursdays. Admission is free. Find out more from the website here.
This is the end of my 2019 project, where I have visited somewhere new every month. Check out my previous adventures here. It’s been kind of challenging given that I didn’t manage to go away on a proper holiday this year (but then I did get married and fix the damp in the house so you know, priorities). So I think I’ll carry on in 2020. Can you suggest anywhere I might like to visit? Proximity to Brighton an advantage.