Ragged School Museum

Lonely Planet review

Both adults and children are inevitably charmed by this combination of mock Victorian schoolroom – with hard wooden benches and desks, slates, chalk, inkwells and abacuses – re-created East End kitchen and social history museum below. ‘Ragged’ was a Victorian term used to refer to pupils’ usually torn, dirty and dishevelled clothes.

The museum celebrates the legacy of Dr Thomas Barnardo, who founded this school for destitute East End children in the 1870s. The school closed in 1908 but you can experience what it would have been like on the first Sunday of the month, when a Victorian lesson in which ‘pupils’ (adults and children alike) are taught reading, writing and ‘rithmetic by a strict school ma’am in full Victorian regalia called Miss Perkins. It takes place at 2.15pm and 3.30pm (suggested donation £2). There’s also a tiny towpath cafe and shop where you can pick up your own slate and chalk. Friendly staff are on hand to pass on plenty of local information and background.