Lonely Planet Writer

How Londoners have been decorating their homes for 400 years now the focus of an exhibition

With the vast changes in infrastructure and the rise of technology, it’s unsurprising that homes these days look very different to what they did hundreds of years ago.

The Geffrye Museum in Shoreditch, London has launched a brand new, interactive tour through four centuries of urban homes and you don’t even have to leave your bed to see them.

The Geffrye Museum Tour by Gocompare.com

“A Google-certified photographer came in and mapped the interior of the museum in 360-degree photography. We then uploaded the images to Google Street View and overlaid a navigational interface which made the collection easier to explore,” Matt Lindley, a spokesperson for the project told Lonely Planet.

While the museum is free to visit, its organisers hope that the virtual tour will enable a wider online audience to experience London’s design history. Each room takes a look at how the interiors have dramatically changed from before the Great Fire of London in 1666 up to today.

The interior design focused on large windows and elaborate drapery, and the fireplace became less important. Image by Geffrye Museum

The tour walks patrons around rooms that reflect the ways in which middle-class families, who had become more affluent following the Industrial Revolution lived at home, highlighting their domestic life.

1745-Covent Garden parlour-london-museum
This luxurious 1745 townhouse displays exotic goods from the East India Company’s early imports. The look includes walnut chairs with upholstered red seats made with woollen cloth. Image by Geffrye Museum
1965 _Highgate estate living room
Open plan to maximise space, this 1965 townhouse shows how the TV has taken over with furniture pointing towards this new piece of technology. Image by Geffrye Museum

It is set in an almshouse that offered accommodation to poor people. Founded in 1714 by Sir Robert Geffrye, the building housed up to 50 pensioners for almost 200 years. Sir Robert was twice master of the Worshipful Ironmongers’ Company and former Lord Mayor of London. Under his bequest, 14 almshouses, mainly for widows of ironmongers, were constructed in 1715 in Shoreditch.

London County Council bought the site in order to preserve the garden, and in 1914 the building was converted into a museum.