Beasts of London

Explore England’s capital city like never before at Beasts of London, a major new exhibition inspired by Hannah Velten's book Beastly London: A History of Animals in the City.

Beasts of London, now open at the Museum of London, explores the role animals have played in shaping the capital, from the Roman era through Medieval London and right up to present day, and it is narrated by the beasts themselves. Discover how animals – from lions and elephants, to horses, rats and pigeons – have shaped the city and its beastly history.

‘I was honoured to be part of the core creative team at Guildhall School, because right from the outset they wanted to honour the experiences of the animals of London past,’ says Velten.

Reaktion author Hannah Velten was a historical consultant for the exhibition and worked with the Guildhall School of Music and Drama for over a year to help create the different exhibition zones and the stories the animals could tell.

‘They were as passionate as I was that the animals who’d shaped London’s economic, social and cultural history should step out of the shadows and be given voices. Based on solid historical research, the drama and music students then took the animal’s stories into another dimension of creativity to appeal to the target audience of families. It was incredibly exciting to see animal history being gradually brought to life using puppets, artefacts, video, speech, lighting, music and set design.’

Essential information
Date: 5th April 2019 – 5th January 2020
Venue: Museum of London, 150 London Wall, London EC2Y 5HN.
To find out more, please go to the Museum of London website.

About the book
Using a wide range of primary sources Beastly London explores the complex and changing relationship between Londoners of all classes and their animal neighbours: from a mainly exploitative relationship, to London becoming the birthplace of animal welfare societies and animal rights’ campaigns. This appealing book, now available in paperback, shows how London’s animals have been central to its success, and will appeal to all those interested in animal history and welfare.

About the author
Hannah Velten is a freelance writer based in Fletching, Sussex, and the author of Cow (Animal series, 2007) and Milk (Edible series, 2010), both published by Reaktion Books.