The story of Madame Tussauds dates back as far as 1767 when Marie Grosholtz (later Marie Tussaud) moved into the family house of the man her mother worked for, a Dr. Philippe Curtius. The doctor was also a wax modeller and so this is where Marie learned her trade. Her first solo work was created in 1778 of French writer, Voltaire before becoming embroiled in the French Revolution. During this time, her work took a slightly more sinister turn when she was required to make death masks of some of the most famous French faces at the time – including Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette! These death masks were made after the individual had been sent to death and faced the guillotine to create an exact likeness (like some sort of sinister portrait!).
It wasn’t until the age of 35 that Marie (now Tussaud) and her two children travelled back to England and from this point on she was never reunited with her husband. After touring around the UK with her waxworks, she settled down at a site in London, not far from the current location at Baker Street. Her final work was a self-portrait in 1842 which can still be seen at the Baker Street exhibition’s entrance today.
The history of Madame Tussauds doesn’t stop there though, having survived through a fire in 1925 where onlookers described “a most wonderful spectacle, with multi-coloured flames shooting high in the air”, while other reports described the renowned Madame Tussauds’ parrot having gone unconscious with smoke come around after a few minutes to say “This is a rotten business” – what a champ! In 1940, the sight was again wrecked following a bombing which destroyed over 350 of the wax heads.
Today, you can see a huge number of famous faces during your London city break taking in Madame Tussauds, from Barack Obama, Kim Kardashian & Kanye West to The Queen and Albert Einstein! While many of the exhibitions look like a perfect reflection of their muse, be careful – some celebrities have pretended to be waxworks and then scared the unsuspecting public around them! See One Direction surprising some fans as part of ITV’s Surprise Surprise here.
After passing by the usual celebs and getting some selfies, be sure to pass through the Chamber of Horrors where you’ll find a much darker tone with some of the death masks from Marie Curie’s time along with a host of murderers and torture devices! Chillingly, the acid bath murderer John George Haigh actually visited this exhibition just a few days before his arrest in 1949. He then donated clothes from his death cell to be used on his waxwork display which posed in Madame Tussauds’ Chamber of Horrors for a time.
Whether you choose to visit the Chamber of Horrors or not, the Spirit of London ride is something totally different to help bring you back into a more pleasant reality. Travelling in a black taxi, you’ll be taken through the history and culture of the city of London!
Also included in ActivityBreaks.com’s London city break is entrance to the Star Wars experience which opened just last year. Here you’ll see a ton of familiar faces in their most famous scenes, like Han Solo chilling in the Cantina, to Jabba’s Throne Room with the captured Princess Leia. We assure you Jabba is just as huge in real life as you imagined on screen, having taken 1.5tonnes of clay to make!