I have long believed (of course!) that houses are more than just a collection of walls, floors, and a roof – they are a literal doorway into our past. They reveal hidden stories of the lives of past residents, architectural gems, and offer us a window into how we used to live. This post is a little different to my usual blog posts as I have compiled a list of places to visit across the UK that offer fantastic insights into the history of houses. They will give you a glimpse into the world of our ancestors and perhaps make you think twice about the history of your own home.
Visit The Geffrye: Museum of the Home in London
Discover the history of houses through the period rooms, including 17th century hall and parlour, Georgian parlour, and Edwardian drawing room.
Walk through No.1 Royal Crescent in Bath
Step back into the world of Georgian Bath and walk through the preserved rooms of the most famous crescent in the world.
Find yourself in Medieval England at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum
Experience the extraordinary collection of re-erected and conserved old houses from across the country and now situated in the West Sussex countryside.
Smell and hear the history of Spitalfields in Denis Severs’ House in London
Walk through the living history of a home of Huguenot weavers from 1724 to 1914. Why not try the exclusive Silent Night tour, which includes champagne and curatorial staff on hand to discuss the history of the house.
Walk in the footsteps of kings and queens
Visit Hampton Court Palace in the year of its 500th anniversary and take yourself back to the world of Henry VIII, as well as other monarchs, including Charles I, and William III and Mary II.
Peek into the world of Gladstone’s Land in Edinburgh
Get a glimpse of how the people of 17th century Edinburgh lived in the tall tenements of the old town.
Delve into the literary world of 19th century Chelsea
Tucked away in the quiet streets of Chelsea is the former home of Thomas and Jane Carlyle. Take note of the early kitchen with its basic facilities.
Escape into the world of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy
Visit the former home of Jane Austen and her mother and sister, at Chawton House, in Hampshire.
See the newly opened private apartments of Sir John Soane in London
Explore the fascinating art and antiquities collection of architect Sir John Soane within his very own home in Lincoln’s Inn Fields.
Be Duchess for a day at Chatsworth House
Walk through the exquisite country house of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Dating back to the 16th century and you can also see one of Europe’s greatest art collections.
Step back into historic rural Wales at the Swtan Heritage Museum
Get a fascinating insight into the lives of rural Welsh cottagers on the west coast of the Isle of Anglesey. Swtan, built in the 17th century, has been carefully restored back to how it would have been in the early 1900s.
Escape into the luxurious world of Frederic, Lord Leighton
The uniquely designed former home of artist Lord Leighton, where ‘east meets west’, is an extraordinary house, with highlights including the ornate tiled Arab Hall and many of Lord Leighton’s works of art.
There are a great many other places across the country that give you an insight into the way our ancestors lived, with many amazing historic houses (large and small) open to the public, but I hope this list will offer something new or inspire you to delve a little further into the history of our houses.