Unlike other countries in Europe and around the world, we in Britain have always been proud of our eccentricities; those unusual and unique quirks that make the UK just that little bit different.
As a result, Britain is home to some of the most offbeat, entertaining and surprising tourist attractions anywhere in the world, many of which are located in the beautiful towns, villages and countryside that make up this rather unconventional island.
The Gnome Reserve, Devon
What could be more British than a garden full of gallivanting gnomes? Well, not much really as this four-acre, gnome-tastic site in North Devon shows only too well.
There are over 1000 gnomes and pixies that live in this woodland reserve, all happily fishing, sunbathing, gardening or simply wiling the time away in their natural habitat. On arrival, visitors are issued with a fishing rod and gnome hat to help them fit in with the locals, a great touch that kids especially will really love.
Once you’ve had your fill of gnomes and pixies, you can enjoy the beautiful surrounding countryside or drive to one of the nearby beaches on the North Devon coast.
Teapot Island, Kent
The vast collection of unique, quirky and downright strange teapots that now makes up the impressive display at Teapot Island in Kent began as the personal collection of owner Susie Blayze when her grandmother gave her her first teapot back in 1983. The museum once held the record for the largest collection of teapots in the world, and today visitors can see teapots shaped as Daleks, Darth Vader and even toilets.
Once you’ve finished exploring the world of teapots, you can retire to the on site café for what hopefully is a very well made cup of tea.
Quay House, North Wales
Not far from Colwyn Bay on the beautiful North Wales coast, you’ll find the old Quay House, a tiny one up, one down semi that is officially the smallest home in Britain. Built during the reign of Elizabeth I, the house is just 6 feet wide and 10 feet high, the upstairs is only just big enough for a single bed and bedside table.
It won’t take long to tour the property’s nooks and crannies, leaving you plenty of time to explore the traditional harbour and neighbouring Conwy Castle.
The Phone Box Museum, Wales
If you head to the Phone Box Museum in South Wales with the aim of learning all about the history and design of these iconic telecommunications boxes, you may be a little disappointed when you arrive and discover just a single red phone box at the side of a lane near the village of Cilgerran. In fact, the innocuous red phone box is home to Wale’s smallest museum, a collection of photographs taken by local resident Tom Mathias.
The photos show the inhabitants and history of the nearby village and surrounding countryside, and provide an intriguing glimpse into times gone by. For those who still really want to learn about phone boxes, it’s just a short three-hour drive to the National Telephone Kiosk Collection at the Avoncroft Museum of Buildings in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire.
The Forbidden Corner, North Yorkshire
Originally conceived as a private pleasure garden in the 1980s, The Forbidden Corner in Tupgill Park Estate, North Yorkshire, bills itself as ‘The Strangest Place in the World’. In typical British tradition, the attraction began as a folly and has now grown to include grottoes, tunnels, walled gardens, statues, art installations and woodland.
Visitors are not given a map but instead encouraged to explore the park until they have ticked off all of the boxes on their checklist of sights.
The attraction has been awarded the title of Best European Folly of the 20th Century by the Folly Fellowship and been voted the best children’s attraction in Yorkshire. Admission is by pre-booked ticket only.
If you thought that cuckoo clocks were all the same, Cuckooland in Cheshire is guaranteed to make you think again. Home to one of the most important collection of its type in the world, Cuckooland is currently home to around 600 cuckoo clocks, all made in the Black Forest region of central Europe.
Many of the clocks in this vast collection have been specially restored by brothers Roman and Maz Piekarski who began their apprenticeships in clock restoration in Manchester at the age of 15.
Visitors to the museum can learn pretty much everything that they need to know about the making and restoration of the clocks, and if they haven’t been driven cuckoo by all the excitement they can even pick up their very own replica piece from the gift shop on the way out.
Dennis Savers’ House, London
At 18 Folgate Street in London’s Spitalfields, you’ll find Dennis Savers’ House, a unique and eccentric museum created by an artist who wanted to bring the past to life by transforming a private home into a time capsule. From 1979 to 1999 Dennis Savers gradually turned the house into a sort of still life, a snapshot of life in the property in times gone by. The rooms are set up as if the occupants have only just left, giving visitors a real sense of what life would have been like in the past.
From north to south and east to west, Britain is dotted with some of the most eccentric, bizarre and endearing offbeat attractions you’ll find anywhere in the world. Visiting just a few will give you a unique taste of British life and make any holiday in the UK even more entertaining and eye-opening.