10 small (and fascinating) museums in London…8. The Geffrye Museum

We have mentioned this museum before, but it’s well worth doing so again (particularly for those who may have missed the first entry). Located in former almhouses in Shoreditch, the Geffrye Museum is a survey of house interiors from the 17th century through to modern times.

Featuring 11 reconstructed period interiors created using authentic furnishings, it tells the story of the city through its residents’ homes (albeit largely wealthy ones) and includes a look at a hall in 1630, a parlour in 1790, a drawing room in 1870 and a loft conversion dating from 1998. There’s an audio guide which provides details on each room and information panels as you go along (and if you can’t get there but want to have a look, the website gives a detailed look at each room with notes on select furnishings).

The almshouses in which the museum resides (it runs along the rear wing of a U-shaped courtyard and takes in the chapel) were built in the early 1700s by the Company of Ironmongers after it received a bequest from Sir Robert Geffrye, a former twice-master of the company and a former Lord Mayor of London (his statue adorns the front of the chapel and faces out into the courtyard, itself a quiet oasis in busy Shoreditch).

These were used until early in the 20th century when the company decided to relocate the remaining pensioners. But the buildings have been preserved and it is possible to visit a former almshouse which has been restored and opened as a museum with displays on what life was like for the pensioners. Meanwhile, at the rear of the museum is a walled herb garden filled with herbs and a series of ‘period garden rooms’ ranging from the 17th to 20th centuries.

There’s also a restaurant and shop onsite (housed in a new extension opened in 1998).

WHERE: 136 Kingsland Road, Shoreditch. Nearest tube is Liverpool Street or Old Street (a fair walk) or Hoxton Overground Station (next door); WHEN: Tuesdays to Saturdays, 10am-5pm or Sundays and Bank Holidays, 12-5pm (gardens open until 31st October); COST: Free (admission to almhouses £2.50 at set times on select days); WEBSITE: www.geffrye-museum.org.uk


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