As you may know by now, I like the extreme. I think the oddities of life, the things most people probably shy away from either because they just don’t find the complete cycle of life that interesting that they want to look at things in jars of formaldehyde or it simply isn’t their cup of tea. This is fine as I understand that not everyone will find a skull as interesting as I do, not do I expect people to get as excited over bugs in frames as me, but I think that there should be some appreciation of the insightful knowledge that this form of art has brought us over the years.
Tucked away in Essex, UK is a place called Battlesbridge. This is the home of a group of antiques shops where you can find wonders a plenty. Here you will find the museum/shop called Curiosities from the 5th Corner. Run by Henry, a humorous, bear of a man, who is more than willing to tell you about the items he holds and his thoughts on them, this is a treasure trove of the bizarre and darkly enchanting.
It is £1 to enter (where do you get entry that cheap to anything these days??) and you will get that £1 off if you make a purchase. As you enter the museum, you quickly realise this is like something of days gone by, with everything and anything from taxidermy to weird old books. Lowbrow and dark art strewn about skulls a plenty.
The museum is not large, but it is cram packed with things that draw you in and make you want to stay and explore. The invite to explore Narnia, was initially confusing as I wasn’t sure which door led there, which was met with a little bout of sarcasm, but entering through a wardrobe to find a dimly lit room filled with more strange and intriguing items.
When you speak to Henry, you realise that he is actually very respectful to the items that he stocks. With the consideration that these range though human skulls, to animal skulls and bones to deformed animals in formaldehyde, he talks very passionately about how items are obtained, and how the items are treated. It really is a beautifully refreshing thing to hear him talk so respectfully about the stock he carries.
This place is an absolute Aladdin’s cave of items, and I was able to pick up a few items which I have been on the lookout for a while, included a framed butterfly and some framed bugs, at a price which I found incredibly fair.
Henry also explained to me that the museum is moving, so while I would have loved to point you in the direction of where to find this astounding little place, the best I can do is give you the link to his website, so that you can watch out for the new address, so if you are ever travelling through Essex, you can while away an hour or two looking at all that there is to offer here. You can also find the store on Facebook and Instagram just by searching Curiosities from the 5th Corner.
The philosophy of this place is to recycle the dead to help the living, and you can find that there are donations and auctions made to assist with local hedgehog charities. I love the respect shown for the complete cycle of life in this store.
Now, some of you may feel that this is all a little morbid or macabre, which it is to a point, but it is also a celebration of life, a remembrance to things that have past, and a homage to those medical and artist people who took the time to really look and see the human and animal bodies to understand how they worked which as led us to the advancements in the scientific and artist worlds…otherwise we would be still treating wounds with mashed up leaves and painting stick figures.
Despite how you feel about the subject of taxidermy and having a skull around the house, I hope that this has either inspired you to visit this little nook, or at least appreciate the things that you may be shy away from at times.
I am going to end with a little quote from Henry himself from his website “Everyone has an opinion, I find it best to not listen to anyone’s but your own, live the life that you want to.” This is a man that has turned his passion in to his living and is demonstrating that in everything that his does.
Do you think you would visit? Why not tell me in the comments? Like this post? Why not share it?