Culture doesn’t necessarily mean touring museums and galleries. You can find it in the shops too and Kensington oozes with cultured shopping.
London is well known for its love of oddities – and I don’t just mean Ripley’s Believe It or Not! If you’re looking for curiosities that are truly curious, you won’t find anywhere better than Finch Antiques! Even most Kensington hotels in London have their own collection of antiques, if you look hard enough.
Unlike other antique dealers, they specialise in genuine curiosities from around the world. The Finches are not simply interested in flipping items for a profit: they collect choice items that reflect the history of human civilization, and that are genuine world rarities. Their collection is one of the most varied I have ever seen, compiling a wide range of the esoteric, antiquities and curiosities. Finch & Co specifically chase after the world’s most unusual treasures, and a trip to their amazing shop on the Old Brompton Road is an eye-opening experience!
Their shelves feature a shrunken Amazonian skull and a collection of 150 year old letters from a preacher, chronicling his life living among the “Indian Heathens”. Ivory teetotums – antique, rounded gambling dice – adorn the Finch Brother shelves, and date back to 1800. Although teetotums have fallen out of popularity, they are still recognisable in other forms: like the Jewish dreidel! Sometimes I wonder if any of the Kensington hotels in London have a few antique teetotums lying around!
Look deeper into the Finch collection and you can discover some of the brother’s more ghoulish treasures. In a 6-inch high glass jar, you’ll find an original Victorian medical curiosity: a twin headed kitten. This particular item is not for the faint of heart, and was donated from the old Royal Veterinary College. Preserving natural deformities was somewhat of a trend in 19th century Europe, and was a particular hobby of both Darwin and Peter the Great of Russia. It still startles me to see these horrors, and I wonder what kind of people today are buying things like this!
That’s not the only thing in the Finch collection that could make your skin crawl! A medieval soldier’s upper thigh bone and a coffin for a canary are also in the collection, so maybe leave small kids out of this particular antique adventure!
Suite No 744
2 Old Brompton Road