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Fascinating London house museums

London is a top museum destination with some 250 museums within the city limits. Of course everybody knows the Tate Modern, the Victoria Albert Museum and the National Gallery. However, in addition to these prestigious institutions, there are also many house museums offering a charming tribute to the celebrities who once lived here.

Just about every British and foreign hero who has lived for even a short time in London is commemorated with a house museum. The Freud Museum displays the famous couch of the father of psychoanalysis, the Handel Museum houses the composer’s piano, and the Dickens House offers a glimpse behind the scenes of this Victorian writer. Lesser known celebrities include Edward Linley Sambourne, Scientology leader L. Ron Hubbard and artist Dennis Severs, and their house museums are just as fascinating.

Freud’s house museum
Freud’s house museum

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Back to Victorian times

Victorian Linley Sambourne House

From 1875 onwards, Edward Linley Sambourne, the cartoonist of the legendary satirical magazine 'Punch', lived at 18 Stafford Terrace. The generations who lived in the house afterwards preserved almost all of the entire decor; even the personal property of Linley Sambourne and his family remained exactly in place, including drawings, letters and diaries. The house in Kensington is now a precious time capsule, offering a fascinating glimpse into the life of a middle-class family in Victorian times.

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Linley Sambourne House, 18 Stafford Terrace, Kensington, London,

www.rbkc.gov.uk/linleysambournehouse

Scientology headquarters: Fitzroy House

This 1791 Georgian House in the literary district of Fitzrovia was once the home of playwright and Nobel Laureate George Bernard Shaw and his mother. But that's not what attracts today’s visitors to the house museum. L. Ron Hubbard resided here in the 1950s and transformed the house into the global headquarters of the Church of Scientology. As a tribute to the founder of the controversial movement, Fitzroy House was fully restored to the way it was then. Visitation is free and by appointment only.

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Scientology's old international headquarters

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Fitzroy House, 37 Fitzroy Street, Fitzrovia, London,

www.fitzroyhouse.org
Dennis Severs’ House

A life's work: Dennis Severs' House

Until his death in 1999, artist Dennis Severs spent 3 years working his magnum opus. He transformed his own house into a 3D historical painting. The 10 rooms have been decorated in different styles from the 18th to 20th century. Visit for example the elegant parlour of a Huguenot family or the ghastly attic of Scrooge, the old miser from Dickens’ book ‘A Christmas Carol’. It seems as if the residents have just walked out: the fire is still burning and there are half empty wine glasses on the table.

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Dennis Severs’ House, 18 Folgate Street, Spitalfields, London,

www.dennissevershouse.co.uk

Photo credits

  • Back to Victorian times: Nick Harrrison, Flickr
  • Scientology's old international headquarters: gorgeoux, Flickr
  • Dennis Severs’ House: George Oates, Flickr