The Museum of the Home - History and Facts | History Hit

The Museum of the Home

London, England, United Kingdom

The Museum of the Home in Shoreditch is dedicated to the changing styles of homes and gardens covering four centuries of styles, tastes, furnishings and decorations from 17th century oak panelling to today’s ultra-modern decor.

Amy Irvine

07 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About The Museum of the Home

The Museum of the Home (formerly The Geffrye Museum of the Home) is housed in 18th century Grade I-listed almshouses, in Hoxton, Shoreditch. It provides a fascinating journey through British homes over the last four centuries and explores how people lived – and live.

History of The Museum of the Home

The museum’s 14 almshouses were built in 1714 for around 50 residents in need associated with the Ironmongers’ Company. They were financed by Sir Robert Geffrye (1613–1704) – a merchant and slave trader who had served as Lord Mayor of London and Master of the Ironmongers’ Company. (Geffrye is not connected to the founding of the Museum or its collections).

In 1911 the Ironmongers’ Company sold the buildings and gardens to London County Council (LCC), who were keen to save the gardens in such a densely populated area. They saw they could give a new purpose to the almshouses by turning them into a museum, and on 2 April 1914 the Geffrye Museum opened to the public.

Initially the museum showcased furniture and woodwork (a useful resource for local people working in the furniture industry), but by the mid-1930’s, the museum’s focus shifted to the history of domestic life. This helped encourage a younger audience, with educational pioneer Molly Harrison encouraging the museum to be a centre for learning.

The Museum remained open throughout World War Two, and housed air raid shelters, including one in Kingsland Gardens that held up to 700 people.

Post-war, the Museum continued to evolve, with the main permanent displays showcasing a chronological series of room settings furnished and decorated to show the main living spaces and elements of domestic life and everyday objects through the centuries. These reflect changes in society, behaviour, style and taste.

The Museum became a charitable trust in 1991, and the following year a herb garden was opened. In 1998, an extra wing was added with 20th century period rooms and spaces for learning and exhibitions. The museum closed for a two-year £18m development project in January 2018, with the museum’s change of name announced in 2019.

The building that houses the museum has a replica statue of merchant and slave trader Robert Geffrye above its entrance. In July 2020 the museum held a consultation on the potential removal of the statue – the museum’s board elected instead to “reinterpret and contextualise” the statue in its current location.

The Museum of the Home today

Visitors to the museum will find 11 period rooms (from around 1700 to present day) and four beautiful period gardens as well as a walled herb garden, all arranged in chronological order. New galleries and learning spaces, a café, entrance hub and a collections study room have also been built recently.

There is also a restored 18th century alms house (open on selected days throughout the year) which provides a look into the lives of London’s poor in the 17th and 18th centuries. In each room there are artefacts and objects (including photographs of real homes), to aid authenticity.

Getting to The Museum of the Home

The museum is located on Kingsland Road in Hoxton. Hoxton station is the nearest station and is very close by, served by London Overground. The nearest tube station is Old Street (Northern line) – from there, the museum is approximately a 20 minute walk. Local bus routes 149, 242 and 243 pass by the museum at stop KA.

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