The Geffrye Museum on Kingsland Road is devoted to exhibiting the ‘interiors of the middle classes’. Set within an old almshouse (which is also open on the first Saturday of the month), the long narrow building is ideally suited to its purpose, as you walk the length of it viewing individual rooms set up with furniture starting from the sixteenth century up to a 1990s loft conversion.
I look forward to the 2000’s installation, which will hopefully appear in the next few years – Ebay finds, vintage fabrics, restored furniture salvaged from skips, everything green and recycled and covered in old paint.
My favourite rooms are the the atmospheric 1940s one (left), which reminds me of my grandparents’ house and the mid-century one. I also like the 1890s one, which is apparently the home of ‘an artistic young couple who have had a busy day visiting galleries and curiosity shops, and have purchased a piece of pottery from Liberty’s’.
My one criticism that the rooms are a tiny bit lifeless. There are no fresh flowers, or open newspapers or jackets hung over chairs or – as you see in Dennis Sever’s house in nearby Spitalfields – half full chamberpots and half-eaten scones. If you’re looking for a full sensory trip back in time you’d be better of going there, especially for one of the candle-lit evening openings, or even to the 1940s house at the Imperial War Museum, which is an exact replica of a wartime home in Kent.
There’s a beautiful herb garden and a café, which serves very traditional English things like nettle jelly and steak and kidney pie. They have numerous events throughout the year, so it’s worth keeping an eye on the website, such as a ceramics fair and a garden photographer’s exhibition.
The museum is on hectic Kingsland road, immediately after all the Vietnamese restaurants. It’s a relaxing place with a huge lawn out the front and a calm, terribly well-mannered atmosphere – even the Keep Out sign in the garden is polite.
Geffrye Museum, Kingsland Road, E2 8EA, 20 7739 9893
Open Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm
Sundays & Bank Holiday Mondays 12 – 5pm
Closed Mondays (unless Bank Holiday), Good Friday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day
The restaurant is open until 4.45pm