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Explore Rooms

A living room in 1935 (detail) photography Jayne Lloyd

A living room in 1935 (detail) - photography Jayne Lloyd

The Geffrye's sequence of period rooms shows the changing style of English homes, and particularly those of London's middle classes. Although relatively prosperous, the middle classes were not as rich as the landed gentry and aristocracy, but were wealthy enough to have comfortable town houses with good quality furniture and possessions. In the 17th and 18th centuries they would typically have been merchants, financiers, doctors and lawyers. By the 19th century, as the middle classes expanded, they would have included people engaged in business and manufacturing, and in our own times might also include accountants, architects and media professionals.

Our collections are presented in the context of period rooms. These are not the actual rooms of actual people. Their purpose is to show the changing styles and tastes of the urban middle class through the last four hundred years. They represent living rooms, known in the past as parlours, and later, drawing rooms, and show examples of the furniture, textiles and decorative styles which were current in a particular period. 

The eleven period rooms are presented chronologically, starting in 1600 and concluding at the end of the 20th century. Each is introduced with a short display illustrating a typical town house of the time, the type of furniture and furnishings and the main changes in style which affected the appearance of English homes. Visitors are invited to sit on a replica chair in each of these introductory displays, in order to get more comfortable with each century!

Follow the left hand menu to find out more about each of the period rooms or click to explore the individual 360 views and the Virtual Tour.