London's Weirdest Dummies And Mannequins

M@
By M@ Last edited 28 months ago
London's Weirdest Dummies And Mannequins
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Whitewebbs Museum of Transport in Enfield has a great sense of fun. Here's its interpretation of a Second World War air raid warden, complete with 1980s New Romantic makeover.
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Our fey warden is by no means the only peculiarity at Whitewebbs. Downstairs finds a cross-dressing Michael Jackson (complete with white glove) presiding over the antique bicycles.
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Over at Hampton Court Palace, this ambitious squire attempts to commune with the walls.
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The Sherlock Holmes Museum on Baker Street is populated by any number of unusual mannequins. Here we see a tableau from that famous Conan Doyle story: The Adventure of the Masked David Seaman.
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Explain this scene, if you will. Here's our interpretation. Some prankster has built a shack around a quicksand pit, to lure unwary explorers to their deaths. At some point he felt guilty about his crimes and decided to hang himself next to the pit. Years later, the quicksand trap is discovered by Lieutenant Ilia from Star Trek the Motion Picture, who subsequently becomes the latest victim. The whole bizarre scene can be found at the dinosaur golf course in Eltham.
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Twickenham Museum is a reasonably predictable showcase of local artefacts and old photographs. And then there's this. A model of a man hiding under the stairs with a bucket on his head. Turns out, this guy was a local hero known as Professor Cockles, who would periodically immerse himself in the Thames in his home-made diving gear. Read all about him here.
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And finally... the ultimate in weird dummies. Here is Jeremy Bentham, the well-known philosopher. This is no mere mannequin. The big fellow's genuine skeleton is enclosed within those robes. His preserved head is under lock and key, replaced here by a wax noggin. Bentham left instructions for his body to be displayed in this way. The so-called 'auto-icon' can be freely viewed in the cloisters of UCL.

London's attractions make regular use of model figures to help tell their stories. Sometimes, budgets don't quite stretch as far as ambitions, and we're left with something more amusing than pedagogical. Having rounded up a few of the more peculiar dummies a few years ago, we've now collected a few additional oddities in the gallery above.

Please do send us any further suggestions, to hello@londonist.com. Use the subject line: "Mannequin oddness".

Last Updated 28 October 2015

Elizabeth

First heard about Mr. Bentham in a history class when I was a University student here in the US and I told myself one day I'd pay him a visit. After a few other trips to London I finally kept my promise a couple of years ago. Yep, there he was, sittin' in his cabinet as everyone else walked by him seemingly unaware. Or maybe they're just used to seeing a stuffed dead guy displayed in a glass cabinet. I love London. :-)

Gregory Farquar

Yes, I studied at that university. The building was built in 1932 by Charles Holden and designed to last 500 years. Designated as the Ministry of War, it was illuminated from 1939 but the the Germans failed to bomb it.