Once I had told a few of my family members of my plans to take my kids to the London Dungeon, one by one they recalled their memories of their visit as a child and the nightmares it induced. How ghosts and ghouls jumped out and chased them down the dark dungeons, blood covered bodies with their throats slit and their intestines hanging out of their torso like a bunch of sausages. It was so scary they had to sleep with the lights on for weeks after.
With my family’s recollections ringing in my ears I decided it was best to give London Dungeons a call first. The lady on the phone was super reassuring, she promised there would not be ghosts jumping out at us or ghouls chasing down through the dark dungeons, or anyone jumping out and chasing us for that matter. Since they moved from their old location at London Bridge, to their new location on the South Bank, a stones throw from the London Eye. They have moved away from the old way of doing things and now focus on telling the story of 1000 years of London’s murky history and legends. Getting up close with historical characters including Guy Fawkes, Jack the Ripper and the infamous barber of Fleet Street, Sweeney Todd, played by professional actors with light hearted tongue and cheek humour. She said the recommended age for the London Dungeons is age 8 years old and above, but they do not turn away people with younger children. ‘If at any time you want to leave the attraction, you will be able to at the nearest exit’. ‘Many children entering the London Dungeon enjoy the experience’.
As my older daughter already seemed to know a lot about the London Dungeon from her Brownie group, and even though she is 7 years old, I thought she may enjoy the experience. She does enjoy watching Horrible Histories and laughs at the parts that sound most gruesome.
Once entered in the attraction we were put in a group of 40. We took a short walk through the dark cobbled alleyway to a water ride which took us under the thames. There was constantly a tension in the air and we found ourselves on edge, trying to prepare for something to suddenly jump out at us. The pitch black dark quite literally plays on your senses. Each room was of a different period in time with theatrical storytelling by professional actors, authentic costume, and noises, scenes and smells to match. The shows were very much about audience participation and interaction, which I was not at all expecting. My daughter was called up on the court stand accused of being a French spy, while another member of the group found themselves locked in torture chambers. Another was sentenced to death by order of the king, all in light hearted humour, of course.
We loved the summer activities happening at The London Dungeon including Uncover the myths behind the Ripper, the scripts and shows had been developed with author of Jack the Ripper – The Secret Police Files and top murder squad detective, Trevor Marriott. The new script and characters lead us through some flash back scenes of the events leading up to the murders, from meeting an East-End newspaper boy, to purveyor of horsemeat Mrs Harriet Hardiman in her cat’s meat shop at 29 Hanbury Street. We explore key questions as to what really happened in on one of the ghastliest murder sprees of all time.
My daughter had a absolutely brilliant time and loved every minute of it, I thought it was educational, funny and far exceeded my expectations. The London Dungeon is recommended for children 8 years and over, I guess it just depends on your child but I personally would agree. If not for the subject alone, for the fact the show run for 90 minutes, almost entirely standing, and walking through dark alleyways. I am glad I decided not to bring my 5 year old with us, she spent a lovely few hours with her auntie who was visiting from Switzerland at Sea Life, which is two doors down from the London Dungeon.