Sir John Soane's Museum
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Sir John Soane's Museum information
This little museum is one of the most atmospheric and fascinating in London.The building is the beautiful, bewitching home of architect Sir John Soane (1753–1837), which he left brimming with surprising personal effects and curiosities, and the museum represents his exquisite and eccentric taste.
Soane was a country bricklayer’s son, most famous for designing the Bank of England. In his work and life, he drew on ideas picked up while on an 18th-century grand tour of Italy. He married a rich woman and used the wealth to build this house and the one next door at No 12, which now serves as an exhibition and education space. The 2nd floor of No 13, including Soane's private apartment and model room, has been recently restored.
The heritage-listed house is largely as it was when Soane died and is itself a main part of the attraction. It has a canopy dome that brings light right down to the crypt, a colonnade filled with statuary and a picture gallery where paintings are stowed behind each other on folding wooden panes. This is where Soane’s choicest artwork is displayed, including Riva degli Schiavoni, looking West , by Canaletto, architectural drawings by Christopher Wren and Robert Adam, and the original Rake’s Progress , William Hogarth’s set of satirical cartoons of late-8th-century London lowlife. Among Soane’s more unusual acquisitions are an Egyptian hieroglyphic sarcophagus, a mock-up of a monk’s cell and slaves’ chains.
Mobile phones must be switched off and photography is not allowed. Tours (£10) depart at 11.30am Tuesday and Friday, at 3.30pm Wednesday and Thursday and at 11am Saturday. The evening of the first Tuesday of each month, when the house is lit by candles, is very popular and sees long queues.