London Drum

18 Stafford Terrace – Linley Sambourne House

18 Stafford Terrace
Where? 18 Stafford Terrace, Kensington · Web: Opening times? 10 AM to 5.30 PM (Wed-Sun) Visiting hours may change Price? Adults £12.00; Children £5.00 (6-18); Infants free entry (under-6) Entry charges may change Time required? A typical visit is guided tour: 1¼ hours – self-guided tour: 45-60 mins Parking: Nearby car parks Buses: 9, 23, 27, 28, 49 Bus fares Trains: The closest station is High Street Kensington Circle District Train fares

Craig’s review… From the outside this looks like a regular townhouse in a regular street, and people must walk past it all the time without giving it a second thought. But if you step inside then you’ll be transported back to a time when the brightest colour in the world was brown, and the only sound in the house was a dusty grandfather clock.

You probably haven’t heard of Linley Sambourne but he did a lot of cartoons for Punch and the illustrations for Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies. I wouldn’t have known any of this either, but they make you snooze through a ten minute documentary on his life at the start. He was also a bit of a dab hand at photography, and they’ve plastered the walls with shots of his models.

The house has remained pretty much the same as it was in Edwardian times. When his son took it over after his death he was clearly too lazy to redecorate because it still contains all the original interiors from a century ago. I wouldn’t really call it an everyday home though – this guy was clearly well-off – but neither is it a palace. It’s just a very fine snapshot of life in 1910.

The decor is all dark greens and chestnut browns, and whatever yellows there are are just a mustard-coloured gloom – the colour of cigarette-stained fingers. There are lots of china plates and dried flowers, stopped clocks on the mantelpiece, old photo frames and statues, oval mirrors that make your face look like a dusty portrait painting. Even the stained glass windows do their best to keep the sunlight out. When you get upstairs the walls are covered in his photography – those early attempts that seem overly posed and ghostly.

To sum it up then: every room looks like your grandmother either lived in it, or died in it. I’m not sure that I’d want to spend a night there, but it’s an interesting way to spend an hour.

Worth a visit? Value for money? Good for kids? Easy to get to?

I also recommend… If you enjoy this then try Charles Dickens Museum (take a tube journey from High Street Kensington to Russell Square); Leighton House Museum (you can walk it in 7 mins) and Sir John Soane’s Museum (travel from High Street Kensington to Holborn by underground)

London Squire bookThe owns and has spent the last decade reviewing the capital’s landmarks, attractions and hotels. His guidebook is available from Amazon

Your comments and questions

mags We are big fans of Downton Abbey and thought 18 Stafford Terrace might be an interesting snapshot of the era, and whilst of course it was not anywhere near as big or luxurious because it is just a normal home, it did transport us back in time. But it was also surprising how much has NOT changed in our lives, and has remained the same over the years

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