Lonely Planet review
This series of beautiful 18th-century ivy-clad almshouses, with an extensive and well-presented herb garden, was first opened as a museum in 1914, in a spot that was then in the centre of the furniture industry. The museum inside is devoted to domestic interiors, with each room of the main building furnished to show how the homes of the relatively affluent middle class would have looked from Elizabethan times right through to the end of the 19th century. A postmodernist extension completed in 1998 contains several 20th-century rooms (a flat from the 1930s, a room in the contemporary style of the 1950s and a 1990s converted warehouse complete with IKEA furniture) as well as a gallery for temporary exhibits, a shop and restaurant. The garden is also organised by era, mirroring the museum's exploration of domesticity through the centuries.
Be sure to time your visit in order to see the exquisite restoration of a historic almshouse interior . It's the absolute attention to detail that impresses, right down to the vintage newspaper left open on the breakfast table. The setting is so fragile, however, that tours (#2.50; hhourly tours 11am-3pm 1st Sat, 1st & 3rd Wed, 2nd & 4th Thu) run only a few times a month.