Christmas at the Geffrye

Thursday, November 9th 2017

The Geffrye Museum
The Geffrye Museum

The Geffrye Museum in Shoreditch is one of our favourites and we have visited it often (see, for example, Rooms through the ages). We like to go each year to see the rooms decorated for Christmas in the style appropriate to their period. This time we took a friend with us to introduce him to the delights of this fine institution.

Named after Sir Robert Geffrye whose bequest helped fund the large structure, the Geffrye began as almshouses built in 1714 by the Ironmongers’ Company. The museum, whose theme is the history of the home, opened on the site in 1914. Admission to the museum is free and photography is allowed for personal use. Currently, the museum is closed while a two-year development project takes place. Today’s visit was also in a sense taking leave of a friend who is going away for a while. We will certainly be happy to renew our acquaintance with it two years’ time.

As well as specimen rooms, there is a shop, a cafe and exhibitions of furniture and other exhibits relating to domestic interiors. Below is a selection of the photos that I took during the visit. Further information about the museum and the individual rooms can be found on the museum’s Web site.

The passageway from which we view the rooms is quite narrow and in most cases you cannot stand back far enough to include the whole room is the frame. I have dealt with this in some cases by stitching two or three frames together. There may be a small amount of perspective distortion in some photos as a result.

A hall in 1630
A hall in 1630

If the photo’s caption has a link, this will take you to the museum’s own description of that room.

Drawing room 1630
Drawing room 1630

A parlour of 1745
A parlour of 1745

The almshouse chapel
The almshouse chapel

The chapel sits in the middle of the original almshouse building with residents’ apartments extending in wings on either side. Residents were required to attend chapel at 11am and 3pm every Sunday. This picture shows the chapel with pews still in place.

A parlour of 1790
A parlour of 1790

A drawing room of 1830
A drawing room of 1830

A drawing room of 1870
A drawing room of 1870

In this picture, you have the bonus of an accidental self-portrait of the photographer! (Hint: look in the mirror.)

At home in 1890
At home in 1890

Edwardian drawing room, 1910
Edwardian drawing room, 1910

Living room 1935
Living room 1935

Living room 1965
Living room 1965

Loft style apartment 1998
Loft style apartment 1998

Modern staircase, south end of building
Modern staircase, south end of building

Fashions change, not only in the way we furnish and decorate our homes but also in the meaning we attach to Christmas and how we celebrate. Certain things, though, remain constant. The 387 year panorama provided by the Geffrye Museum gives us an insight into how things change and yet somehow remain the same. Happy New Year, Geffrye Museum, and here’s to a joyful reunion in two years’ time!

Copyright 2017 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

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About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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4 Responses to Christmas at the Geffrye

  1. WOL says:

    Um . . . the pictures “a hall in 1630” and “a parlor in 1790” are the same.picture. . ..

  2. WOL says:

    It was interesting that 1998 was thought to be far enough in the past to be “hysteri. . .” er, “historical.” I like that open staircase in the 1965 exhibit.

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