[Skip to content] [Skip to main navigation] [Skip to user navigation] [Skip to global search] [Accessibility information] [Contact us]

Previous Next
of 8 items

Walking the Horniman

Walking is one of the simplest exercises we can do; even 10-minute brisk walks can have great benefits to our overall health. We’ve put together a walking guide to the Horniman, its architecture and some of the surprises in the Museum.

The Architectural Walk

  • Clock Tower, Sophia Spring
    , Sophia Spring

The impressive Clocktower, made from Doutling Stone has become an iconic feature of the Horniman Museum and Gardens. Originally built in 1901, it’s a glowing beacon on top of Forest Hill. The clock tower was further extended in 1911 by Emslie Horniman, son of our founder Frederick Horniman.

Both the original building and the Emslie Horniman extension were designed by Charles Harrison Townsend.

Once you have admired the front of the building, take a walk around it to the left and you’ll find the green-roofed CUE building, which houses our Library and some offices.

The CUE building opened in 1996 and was designed by local architects Architype using methods developed by Walter Segal. The grass roof has been constructed with sustainable materials and CUE stands for Centre for Understanding the Environment.

An ecological survey of the Library building’s green roof recorded 52 insect species living there, including a rare type of ant and other unusual species. We also have a living roof on our Pavilion. They are self-sustaining and, no, we don’t mow them!

Past the Museum entrance and the Café is the Conservatory on the right.

Originally built in 1894, the grade ll Victorian Conservatory was an extension of the Horniman family house at Coombe Cliffe, Croydon. Having been abandoned for many years and in a derelict state, the Conservatory was moved to the Horniman in the 1980s and opened in 1987. The Conservatory today holds some beautiful events and even weddings, and is occasionally used by the Café as a pop-up tea room. It’s even been featured in magazines such as Vogue.

Read in more detail about the conservatory’s reconstruction and history.

Continue up the avenue and you will reach the Bandstand terrace with the beautiful views over London behind it.

The Bandstand dates from 1912 and was also designed by Charles Harrison Townsend. It was renovated in 2012 with new floorboards, its original weather vane was restored, and screens which blocked the windows for decades were replaced with glass. The Bandstand and the modern Pavilion (built in 2012) both offer beautiful views of the Meadow Field below, Dawson’s Heights and London’s skyline.

Behind you is the Dutch Barn. Frederick Horniman brought this small building back from Holland and it dates from around 1895. It now provides a useful indoor shelter for picnics in inclement weather.

Read more about Horniman’s architecture.

The Interactive Walk

Play a tune and tap a beat on the musical sculptures in the Sound Garden, the sounds echo throughout the acres connecting the Gardens to the music collections in the Museum.

Visit the Animal Walk to meet the rabbits, alpacas and sheep, as well as goats and guinea pigs. These living specimens connect us to Fredrick Horniman’s vision of linking the outside to the inside of the Horniman. Linking to the Museum’s Natural History collections, it looks at the connection between domesticated animals and their wild relations, and why people live alongside domesticated animals.

Stop by the Butterfly House, which is a warming comfort in the colder months and full of delightful creatures and plants all year round. Learn about the different species and life-cycles of these beautiful creatures from around the world, in a tropical habitat with over 500 plants.

Step into the Museum and head to the Nature Base, where you can learn about the behaviours of the wildlife living in the city. View insects close up, touch a taxidermy fox or badger, and see the harvest mice scurry. The honey bees are busy in their transparent home, making honey in their special hive.

Down the stairs and in the World Gallery you can leave your thoughts and wishes on the Cloutie tree. In the British Isles people have tied scraps of fabric to trees that grow near sacred wells or springs for thousands of years, to wish for wellbeing or thanks. Look at the wishes of others, and leave your thoughts on the tree or in our feedback area for others to ponder over.

Downstairs we have our Aquarium, where you can watch all manner of aquatic life, from hopping frogs to floating jellyfish.

  • Child at aquarium tank with Jellyfish, Laura Mtungwazi Beaullah
    , Laura Mtungwazi Beaullah

Gardens Walk

Wander through the Grasslands Garden, with wild landscapes featuring spectacular plants from North American prairie and South African grasslands. Its naturalistic planting scheme was devised by Olympic Park designer James Hitchmough and made to complement the World Gallery.

Our Sunken Gardens are a hive for botanical plants.

Admire the old olive trees before taking in the Medicine Garden. Planted in ten ‘body part’ sections, the Medicine Garden features a range of plants used to treat illness in different areas of our body. Some are local remedies that have persisted through time while others have formed the basis of modern medicines.

Next to this is the Dye Garden. Read about natural dyes and the processes used draw the dye from the plants, with different colours grouped between coloured yarn.

Admire the planting in the display around the pond. Built in 1936, the Arts and Crafts style Sunken Garden has spectacular floral displays which area planted for spring and late summer.

Behind this is the Materials Garden, featuring plants used by people around the world to make products as diverse as building materials to textiles and musical instruments.

Take a stroll up towards the Bandstand and you will pass the Pollinator bed. This border opposite the Bandstand contains about 50 different species of plants and has been designed to be attractive to pollinating insects. Pollinating insects like bees, hoverflies, moths and butterflies transfer pollen from one flower to another, helping the plants to fruit and set seed.

Follow the path higher and you will reach the Prehistoric Garden, complete with velociraptor. Prehistoric plants and living fossils are planted with information to tell you about which dinosaurs they appealed to.

Walk past the Prehistoric Garden to the South Downs meadow. This is a secluded and peaceful spot that is often quieter, featuring Canadian maple trees and spring flowers, like snowdrops and crocuses. Offering views of Kent on the eastern edge of the site, it’s a perfect spot for a little picnic.

The Sundial Trail

Have you spotted any sundials whilst walking the Gardens? There actually 12 of them and some may be read differently from what you may think. 

Solar time is a bit different from clock time. We use clock time, day to day, based on 24 hours of equal length. However, solar time changes slightly day to day due to the tilt of the earth and its elliptical orbit around the sun. Have a go at finding them all, or cheat a little and use this handy little guide.

This is just a small slice of the walks around the Horniman. Have an adventure and see what wonders you can find. 

Animal in Focus: Flymo and Gizmo

Every month, the Animal Keepers introduce you to a member of their extended family. This month its double trouble as it’s all about Flymo and Gizmo, our pygmy goats.

The terrible twosome are a miniature breed of domestic goat, originating from the Cameroon Valley of West Africa. The breed was created by cross breeding West African Dwarf Goats and Nigerian Dwarf Goats.

  • Animal in Focus: Flymo and Gizmo, Flymo and Gizmo, the Animal Walk pygmy goats.
    Flymo and Gizmo, the Animal Walk pygmy goats.

Pygmy goats are classified as a multi-purpose animal, as they have a variety of uses. They were originally imported for use in petting zoos, and quickly gained popularity as pets and companion animals for hobbyists and are very popular as show animals. Pygmy goats are also used for meat, milk and skin.

Goats have long held a reputation for being animal garbage disposals, but there is much more to them than just bottomless stomachs. New research has shown that goats are just as intelligent as dogs, with the ability to solve simple puzzles and challenges.

Don’t believe us? Come up to the Animal Walk and watch Flymo work out how to get the willow branch that is just out of reach. He has been known to go into his house, take out his feed bucket, flip it over and use it as a step ladder!

  • Animal in Focus: Flymo and Gizmo, This is Flymo, our male pygmy goat who is light grey and black.
    This is Flymo, our male pygmy goat who is light grey and black.

Flymo and Gizmo’s diet includes hay, browse (such as twigs, sticks and hedgerow material), muesli mix and, very occasionally, fruit and veggies as treats. Although humorously named Flymo, ironically pygmy goats rarely graze and act as ‘lawn mowers’. However, pygmy goats are excellent at clearing hedge and scrub as part of conservation grazing management programmes in the UK.

  • Animal in Focus: Flymo and Gizmo, This is Gizmo,our female pygmy goat who is mostly black-coloured.
    This is Gizmo,our female pygmy goat who is mostly black-coloured.

Pygmy goats love fun activities to do, they are superb climbers and will jump and play on obstacles. They are often seen balancing on the wooden stumps and on the sleepers inside their paddocks. As part of their natural behaviour, they head butt each other, the fences, objects and very occasionally their keepers.

Come visit the Animal Walk to meet the twins and the rest of Animal Walk residents.

The Animal Walk is open each day from 12.30pm to 4pm and entry is free.

Animal in Focus: Daisy the sheep

Every month, the Animal Keepers want to introduce you to a member of their extended family, and this month’s animal anarchist is Daisy, the Ouessant sheep!

Ouessants are French and are reported to be the smallest breed of sheep in the world! Visitors to the Animal Walk often mistake Daisy for a lamb, when in fact she is 3 years old, the same age as the rest of the herd, and is a fully mature adult ewe.

Daisy may be small, but she has a BIG attitude!

She is hooves down the loudest animal at the Horniman, and when she starts off a baaing chorus, all the others tend to join in and attempt, and fail to out shout her! Despite her small stature, Daisy is the first to start fights, but is rarely the one to finish them (George, the white faced woodland sheep dominates in that department!).

Ouessants originate from the Ile de Ouessant in Brittany. It has been suggested that this breed of sheep is so small because there was very poor grazing on the island, which led to the selection of small sheep for breeding, and further domestication has maintained this trait! The islanders spun and wore the wool for their clothes and textiles.

The horns of the rams are very heavy, curl forward and terminate in sharp, outward turning tips. Ouessant ewes are polled, which means that they have no horns. This physical difference between the two sexes is called sexual dimorphism.

Rumour has it that the Ouessant breed descended from a Viking breed carried on board their ships and left behind on conquered lands, and Daisy definitely has the personality of a conqueror, just not the physical ability!

Come visit the Animal Walk and meet Daisy and the rest of our rare breed sheep that share her paddocks!

The Animal Walk is open each day from 12.30pm to 4pm and entry is free.

Animal in Focus: Poppy the alpaca

Every month, the Animal Keepers want to introduce you to a member of their extended family.

August's star attraction is Poppy, our fawn-coloured alpaca. We are celebrating a big anniversary at the Animal Walk this month as Poppy turns two years old.

Poppy was born on the 3 August 2014 and is special to the Keepers and the Horniman because she is the first, and only, animal to be born at the Animal Walk. 

Although this month sees her turn 2, she will always be a baby in the eyes of her mum, Peep, who kindly still allows Poppy to share her bedroom.

Poppy is fully mature but she still has a youthful sense of adventure, and can often be seen chasing pigeons and splashing about in her water bucket!

Alpacas were domesticated from vicuña - animals indigenous to South America and originating from The Andes in Peru, Chile and Bolivia. They are camelids and are related to guanacos, llamas and camels.

Alpacas have high quality fibre, which can be used to make textiles including jumpers, scarves and socks. Poppy and Peep are ‘Huacaya’ alpacas, which are known for their thick, woolly fibre. ‘Suri’ alpacas have much longer, dreadlock style fibre.

It may be hard to believe, but temperatures in The Andes are much lower than Britain’s summer, so to keep cool, our alpacas are shorn once a year and showered daily.

Alpacas kept in South America graze in herds, and will eat any scrub they can find. At the Horniman they are fed hay, grass, alpaca muesli mix, chaff, alfalfa and - Poppy’s absolute favourite - carrots (which she got an extra handful of on her birthday as a special treat!)

Alpacas can, but rarely do, spit, though they may spit at one another whilst fighting over food. Peep has also been known to try out her aim when the vet comes for a visit!

Come visit the Animal Walk and wish Poppy a very happy birthday!
The Animal Walk is open each day from 12.30pm to 4pm and entry is free.

Summer Raffle

Win some fantastic prizes in our Summer Raffle. 

Tickets are just £1, or 6 for £5, and are available at the Horniman until 4 September 2016. Look out for ticket sellers at all Festival of Brasil events or visit the Ticket Desk.

The draw will take place on Friday 9 September.

All proceeds help support the work of the Horniman Museum and Gardens (Charity Registration Number 802725).

The prizes are:

Aquarium Tour

Join a curator for a fascinating behind-the-scenes tour of our much-loved aquarium.

The tour is for up to 5 visitors and available Monday – Friday. Prize must be taken up by 31 December 2016, dates subject to availability.
Find out more about the Aquarium.

Meet the Animals

An exclusive opportunity to meet the residents of our Animal Walk, including alpacas, goats, guinea pigs and chickens.

The tour is for up to 5 visitors and available Monday – Friday. Prize must be taken up by 31 December 2016, dates subject to availability.
Find out more about the Animal Walk.

Meal in the Café

Treat yourself with our delicious selection of hot and cold meals, amazing cakes and locally-sourced drinks.

Voucher for all food and drink up to £50. The voucher can be used any time during usual Café opening hours. Valid until 31 December 2016.
Find out more about the Café.

Tickets to Dinosaurs: Monster Families

Discover the world of dinosaurs and their young in our family-focused interactive exhibition. The winner will receive a free family ticket for two adults and two children, valid until 30 October 2016.
Find out more about Dinosaurs: Monster Families.

Horniman Family Membership

Enjoy a year of fantastic benefits including free and unlimited entry to the Aquarium and our temporary exhibitions, and a 10% discount in our Shop.
Find out more about Membership.

Plus, five more winners will receive one of our famous cuddly walrus toys!

Terms and Conditions

1. Closing date 04/09/2016.
2. Entry is via tickets purchased at the Horniman Museum and Gardens only. Entrants must provide details of their chosen contact method. Please keep the ticket as proof of purchase.
3. The prize winners will be chosen at random from all valid entries received by the closing date. The decision is final and non-negotiable.
4. The winner of each prize will be notified by their chosen contact method by 12/09/2016. The winners must claim the prize within two weeks or they will be considered forfeited and another draw will take place.
5. Winners may be asked to provide a photograph or to be photographed and interviewed to provide a quote about winning in order to help promote future fundraising.
6. Entrants must be over 16 and resident in UK.
7. No cash alternative.
8. Prizes are non-transferable.
9. The Horniman Museum and Gardens reserves the right to substitute the prizes with a prize of similar value at its own discretion.
10. The Horniman Museum & Gardens reserves the right to withdraw or amend the raffle as necessary due to circumstances outside its control.
11. By entering the raffle, all entrants will be deemed to have accepted and agreed to be bound by these rules.
12. Employees of the Horniman Museum and Gardens, their agencies and other companies directly involved in the running of the raffle are not permitted to enter.
13. The competition is run by the Horniman Museum and Gardens, 100 London Road, London SE23 3PQ

We are committed to protecting your privacy in line with the Data Protection Act. The data you have supplied will be held securely. We will not share this information with any third party without your consent.

Thank you for supporting the Horniman.

Happy Birthday Poppy!

Happy birthday to our alpaca Poppy, who was born 1 year ago today.

  • Happy Birthday Poppy!, Poppy celebrates her first birthday today.
    Poppy celebrates her first birthday today.

We've gotten into the habit of calling Poppy our 'baby alpaca' - but at one year old, there's only about six months left before she's fully grown.

Today, Poppy has celebrated with a few extra carrots for breakfast. Some alpacas also like apples, but our two (Poppy and mum Peep) seem to prefer carrots.

  • Happy Birthday Poppy!, Poppy was born on 3 August 2013.
    Poppy was born on 3 August 2013.

Here's Poppy enjoying her day, sunbathing in the August sun.

  • Happy Birthday Poppy!, Poppy sunbathing!
    Poppy sunbathing!

Poppy's name was inspired by the centenary of the outbreak of World War One, which was marked last year on 4 August 2014. Her name was chosen by Horniman visitors and readers of the South London Press in a competition last year.

If you'd like to visit Poppy, our Animal Walk is open each day from 12.30pm to 4pm. Entry to the Animal Walk is free.


Alpacas arrive in the Animal Walk

Today we got to welcome two new arrivals to the Horniman Gardens.

  • Alpaca Arrival, George and Percy make their way out of the trailer, Photo by Vicky Pearce
    George and Percy make their way out of the trailer, Photo by Vicky Pearce
  • Alpaca Arrival, The new arrivals make their way through the Gardens to the Animal Walk, Photo by Vicky Pearce
    The new arrivals make their way through the Gardens to the Animal Walk, Photo by Vicky Pearce

George and Percy are two young male alpacas who will be making themselves at home in the Animal Walk.

  • Alpaca Arrival, George and Percy survey their new surroundings, Photo by Vicky Pearce
    George and Percy survey their new surroundings, Photo by Vicky Pearce

Over the coming weeks they will be settling in and getting to know Cat and the rest of the Animal Keepers before the Animal Walk opens later this Summer.

  • Alpaca Arrival, Animal Keeper Cat gets to know the new arrivals, Photo by Vicky Pearce
    Animal Keeper Cat gets to know the new arrivals, Photo by Vicky Pearce

These three aren't too sure about the new boys - they've never seen sheep with such long necks before! Either that or they're just upset at having their limelight stolen.

  • Alpaca Arrival, The sheep aren't so sure, Photo by Vicky Pearce
    The sheep aren't so sure, Photo by Vicky Pearce

George and Percy are here on a holiday from their home in Kent, and will stay here until our own alpaca pair is ready to move in. We hope they feel at home during their stay and that lots of our visitors are able to meet and greet them before they head back.

  • Percy, Photo by Vicky Pearce
    , Photo by Vicky Pearce
  • George, Photo by Vicky Pearce
    , Photo by Vicky Pearce

If you do spot them from the Gardens, they're pretty easy to tell apart. Percy is a little taller, and almost white in colour, while George is a smaller chap in a light brown colour called 'fawn'.

  • Alpaca Arrival, George and Percy start to settle in, Photo by Vicky Pearce
    George and Percy start to settle in, Photo by Vicky Pearce

There are still a few smaller animals to arrive in the Animal Walk before opening. They will all spend time getting to know their new keepers and surroundings, while we make sure they are ready for their admiring public. Watch this space for further updates.

The Horniman Sheep Shearing

Last week, our sheep experienced an important moment in their lives: they were shorn for the first time. We popped down to the Animal Walk to capture the big day on camera, although we're not quite sure the sheep appreciated the audience.

Here's a reminder of what Ted, our Oxford Down sheep, looked like pre-shearing.

Animal Keeper Cat introduces Ted to Tom, assuring him our sheep are well-handled and promise to behave.

  • Sheep Shearing, Animal Keeper Cat makes introductions
    Animal Keeper Cat makes introductions

At first, Ted wasn't quite sure what to make of it.

  • Sheep Shearing, Tom gets to work
    Tom gets to work

But he soon settled down and let Tom do the tricky bits.

Oxford Down sheep are traditionally left with a 'top knot' of fleece. This distinguishes them from other breeds which might look quite similar once shorn.

These guys are next.

All done! Ted seems quite proud of his new look.

  • Sheep Shearing, Ted sporting his new look
    Ted sporting his new look

George inspects what he's sure used to be Ted. Maybe a little nervous that it's his turn next?

  • Sheep Shearing, George patiently waits his turn while Ted's fleece is tidied away.
    George patiently waits his turn while Ted's fleece is tidied away.

Tom also showed us how to roll up a whole fleece, using a twist to fasten it in one bundle.

  • Sheep Shearing, The last fleece of the day is neatly rolled and twisted
    The last fleece of the day is neatly rolled and twisted

The fleece will be washed, picked, carded, spun and finally knitted. We'll share the final product with you once all the hard work is done.

  • Sheep Shearing, Ted's fleece neatly tidied away, ready to be used
    Ted's fleece neatly tidied away, ready to be used

It wasn't long before we had three (slightly smaller) very sharp-looking sheep.

  • Sheep Shearing, Three sharp-looking sheep
    Three sharp-looking sheep

Thanks, Tom!

The Horniman Gardens Animal Walk will open this Summer. Before it does, you can still visit the sheep in their paddock next to the Pavilion building.

Previous Next
of 8 items