The Middling Sort

“The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Awkward realization. Without exactly intending it it, this week’s content is moderately themed. Which wouldn’t be so bad if not for the fact that next week’s tales of adventure and mayhem are explicitly themed (and that theme, kittens, is chocolate so you know you’re going to love it). Regardless, the unintentional theme this week is decor!

On Saturday Katie and I met up to go to the Geffrye Museum of the Home, showcasing how the design, decoration, form, and function of British homes have evolved over the last 400 years.

There charmingly are even a couple resident cats who deigned to make my acquaintance in the midst of hunting pigeons.

The building itself is made of almshouses from the 18th century, originally built by Sir Robert Geffrye, but acquired by the London County Council early in the 20th. Instead of demolishing the site, it was turned into a museum and today holds authentic furnishings and home goods stretching from the 1600s right up though today. It’s focus is on the everyday life of the British middle class, which makes a nice change from most institutions which tend to focus on the Great and Important. Walk with me.

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The 18th century buildings really are beautifully preserved and maintained.
A 17th century dining and main family area.
A 17th century dining and main family area.
Early 18th century writing desk.
Early 18th century writing desk.
17th century tea table - note the early teacups sans handles!
18th century tea table – note the early teacups sans handles and the prominently displayed tea caddy!
Georgian card table in a parlor.
Georgian card table in a parlor.
An early Victorian sitting room. I didn't include any late Victorian stuff because frankly I find the design period hideous. I never claimed impartiality.
An early Victorian sitting room. I didn’t include any late Victorian stuff because frankly I find the design period hideous. I never claimed impartiality.
Things calmed down significantly in the Aesthetic movement, so photos are allowed to resume.
Things calmed down significantly in the Aesthetic movement, so photos are allowed to resume.
There was a whole room devoted to Mid-century design which was delightful, but I fell in love with the period television set.
There was a whole room devoted to Mid-century design which was delightful, but I fell in love with the period television set.

It’s a wonderful museum and well worth a look in if you’re design minded. In their galleries there is currently another exhibit that I loved documenting the private history of homes around the UK. Current owners look into their the past of their dwellings and found some amazing things, including children’s toys under floorboard discovered during renovations, and tales of hauntings.
The museum is totally free (donations encouraged) and open Tuesday through Sunday.

3 thoughts on “The Middling Sort”

  1. Nice post. I had a chance to visit the Geffrye Museum last spring and loved it. Glad someone recommended it too me because otherwise I would have overlooked it completely.

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