Geffrye Museum

Top choice museum in Clerkenwell, Shoreditch & Spitalfields

Image by Neil Setchfield Getty Images

If you like nosing around other people's homes, you'll love this museum devoted to middle-class domestic interiors. Built in 1714 as a home for poor pensioners, these beautiful ivy-clad brick almshouses have been converted into a series of living rooms dating from 1630 to the present day. The rear garden is also organised by era, mirroring the museum’s exploration of domesticity through the centuries. The Geffrye is closed until spring 2020 for major renovations.

An extension completed in 1998 contains several 20th-century rooms (a flat from the 1930s, a 1960s lounge room and an all-too-familiar 1990s loft-style apartment) as well as a gallery for temporary exhibits, a shop and a cafe. There's also a very impressive walled herb garden, featuring 170 different plants.

One of the almshouses has been completely restored and furnished to show the living conditions of the original pensioners in the 18th and 19th centuries. 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 (adult/child £4/free) are only held a few times a month and places are limited; check the website for up-to-date schedules. Photography (without a tripod) is permitted.