The History of British Home

I have finally visited Geffrye museum, that is dedicated to the history of British homes. The museum itself is located 2 min away from the Hoxton station and has a lovely front and back garden that could be used by visitors.


Te museum has Period rooms, that were created to show how homes and home life have changed over time. Eleven period rooms are presented chronologically, starting in 1600 and concluding at the end of the 20th century. A short introduction illustrates a typical town house of the time, the type of furniture and furnishings and the main changes in the style of English homes.

A London house in 1630.

This represents a typical house for the middle class of society. Those could have been merchants and lawyers, for example, that are below the aristocracy, but above small traders and labours.

The ground floor was usually used for a commercial activity such as a shop or a workshop. The main living room was known as the hall and was often on the first floor at the front if the house. Chambers on the upper floors were furnished with beds and also sets of chairs, indicating a social function of the space.


Staples Inn (Holborn, London) was built in 1585 and shows a good example of houses from that era.

Staple-Inn (1)
Image source:

Most London houses at this date were three or four storeys high, timber-framed with a tiled roof and a massive brick chimney. They were not built to a regular pattern and most had been altered and added over many years.

Here is an example of a typical 1630’s hall interior. The hall was usually panelled in oak, and floor laid with a rush mat. Furniture in the hall typically included a large table with set of stools and an armchair for a head of the household, or a special guest.


A London house in 1695.

This is a typical London townhouse for the middle class. The layout of the house remained quite similar with a commercial space (a small home office in this case) being on the ground floor and inhabited rooms above it.

From around 1640 a standard form of brick-built terraced houses evolved in London, with up to five floors. This type of houses was built in large numbers after the Great Fire in 1666, which destroyed many timber-framed houses.


The main living room was still on the first floor at the front of the house and was known as the parlour or the dining room.


The parlours became more private spaces comparing to the halls, where family and servants ate together. Parlours were for eating and receiving guests, but this time separately from the servants.

A parlour in 1790.

The position of the parlour within the house remained the same. Its furnishings changed a bit, but the function of the room stayed, it was still the main room to receive guests.



A London house in 1880.

This is a typical middle-class family house, where the head of the household would usually be a banker or ran his own business, most of the time working away from home.

These houses were normally two or three storeys high, built of brick with a slate roof. Most houses featured bay windows which provided more space and light in the front room and gave the occupants views of the street.


A drawing room in 1830 was a multi-purpose space where female members of the family, in particular, might spend their leisure time reading, painting or playing music. Furniture, often small and adaptable, would be moved around for convenience. Colour schemes of the room tended to be more unified with matching curtains and upholstery.


Edwardian Period room 1900-1914.

This room represents a semi-detached house in the new suburbs of North London. These cottage-style houses included Arts and Crafts features such as a living hall, oak fireplace, simple moulding and low ceiling.


1930s Period Room.

This is an art deco style room in a purpose built London flat, that provided a convenient urban alternative to the suburban houses. The living room and dining room are furnished in the modern style, mostly in light pale colours.


Loving the fireplace.


Mid-Century Period Room 1955-1965.

This open-plan living space is based on the same idea as a typical town house of the early 1960s. The large windows and high ceilings were designed to create an impression of space. The room is furnished in the Contemporary style, which was influenced by Scandinavian interior design, especially Danish.


1990-2000 Period Room.

The main features associated with this style of the interior are bare wooden flooring, white walls, sparse furnishing and modern furniture. Colour can be provided by the upholstery and decorative accessories.


After that goes our current history…

Geffrey Museum is a great place to visit, it allows you to travel back in time. I believe that it is a must-visit destination for everyone who is interested in history and especially in the history of interior design and architecture.

xxx Milena

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