I’ll be honest, I didn’t know the Wallace Collection existed until my husband suggested we visit one afternoon. I went along fully aware that if he was suggesting somewhere, that place would contain one or more of the following things; swords, knives, tanks, bags, ‘splosions, Jason Statham and/or Dolph Lundgren.
This time it was swords, next time we might end up at the museum of Lundgren; Universal Heman. Sigh. An 80’s girl can dream.
The collection is housed in Hertford House. Formerly the modest, central London pad of Sir Richard Wallace, illegitimate son of the 4th Marquess of Hertford and descendant of Bill Wallace, also known as Mel Gibson. Not bad for a bastard.
Dickie Sn. (the Marquess) was an avid collector of the arts, something which his son, Dick Jr. continued after he was entailed the full estate in 1871.
Having worked in the Heritage Sector for a handful of years, I am painfully aware of the lack of conscience our museuming predecessors applied to their “collecting” practices. I try not to think too deeply about how many of these items came to reside in central London. I’m guessing a whole lot of pillaging, grave robbing and dodgy deals were undertaken in the name of Queen and country. Perhaps best not to digress into the plight of post-colonial cultural bastardisation.
However humble it may look from the outside, the Wallace collection is fucking amazing. There is some grand-ass-shit in this building, which I won’t go into as I should focus entirely on possibly the best toilets I have ever encountered in any museum or public building. No hyperbole intended.
These toilets are the pinnacle of well designed bathrooming requirements. Every loo is it’s own private oasis of safety. They are well stocked, quiet, and clean as a non-shitty whistle. In a panic situation, these would be the toilets I would hope to find awaiting me. No sharing, no awkward glances over the soap dispenser, no teenage girls shrieking at each other by the mirrors, just peace.
And they are pretty too. Just look at these tiles! Such tile joy.
It is however, a bit of a mission to get to the loos. Not that they are hard to find but they are deep within the bowels of the building. Beyond the grandeur of the main entrance and drawing rooms, there is a bright central conservatory with cafe, and below, the toilets. The public conveniences are located off to the left of the entrance to The Goodison Lecture Theatre and are flanked by these cheery chappies.
Ebony and ivory coming together to glare at the oppressive colonialists who desecrated their homes and pillaged their arts. It’s beautiful in a way but also angrily apt.
At the end of the toilet corridor is a nursing room with a comfy seat and change table. It’s not the most welcoming or pretty I have seen but it is there and contains everything you would need should you prefer privacy when feeding/expressing.
There is even a little seat and water fountain, should you need to hydrate and have a rest while your mate is quieting his/her panic in the bathroom.
Cleanliness : 9/10 No one is perfect. There are tiny little things that needed mending here and there but honestly these bathrooms were in far better shape than my own at home (because I’m lazy and a terrible housekeeper).
Interior : 10/10 No one is perfect but, maybe that is bullshit because I cant find fault with the interior of these loos. They each have everything I could need; good locks, privacy, rubbish bin, plenty of loo paper, soap, sink, mirror etc.
Exterior : 9/10 The museum is gorgeous and I love that the loos are so private. The only thing they score down on is how far they are from the entrance. If I were rushing in from the street in a flurry and REALLY needed the loo, I might find it a little hard to find the bathrooms, beyond the museum drawing rooms and down a big ass staircase, tucked away down in a nice darkened cave.
Safety : 9/10 I can’t think of how these could be unsafe toilets beyond the locks breaking and getting stuck inside. I know that is something my Mum has a fear of, so her preference is a stall where you can climb free if required.
Snugglitude : 10/10 Fuck yeah.
Total : 47/50 I believe this might be a record.