Off the Beaten Track, Sir John Soane's Museum

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by tvordj on June 12, 2009

The Sir John Soane museum is a small museum in a house on the north side of Lincoln's Inn Fields. This was the home of Soane, a renowned architect, for awhile in the mid 18th century. He was quite a collector and this house is filled with all kinds of interesting things, artefacts, artwork, antiques, and antiquities. There is a picture gallery but it was closed when we visited in 2005 due to some renovations elsewhere. There is a sculpture gallery as well with a high domed skylight. You aren't allowed to take photos in the house but sneaked one of the dome!

There is also a crypt where more of the antiquities are including a sarcophagus that was absolutely astonishing. I've been to the Egyptian room in the British Museum before but I don't remember getting a close look at the sarcophagi. This one was limestone and covered inside and out with hieroglyphics and an etching of a goddess on the bottom inside of it. Originally the markings were filled with a luminescent blue-green paint and they did have a piece of stone with the painted hieroglyphics preserved under glass. It must have been very impressive when the whole of it was like that.

There's some beautiful antiques and furniture in the rooms where the family lived and entertained. He added lots of wonderful details like hidden skylights and used mirrors effectively. It was interesting to see two small portraits of Napoleon, one as a powerful young man and one at the end of his life, defeated and held prisoner.

It's interesting to see that the walls are painted bright vivid colours. I never think of colours like that being fashionable 200 years ago but they were. Most of the 20th century, here at least, you usually saw pastel colours on walls or wallpaper. I loved the deep crimson in the dining room/library which was lined with old books and glass cases and the bright lemon yellow made the upstairs receiving room very sunny.

This museum is free though you must ring the doorbell to get in. There are a lot of research materials available as well. The website has a lot of information on Sir John Soane and the museum's history. It's not very accessible for people with mobility problems. There are steps to get in and staircases in the house and no lifts. Open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. First Tuesday of the month has late opening to 9 p.m. THey do have a loo but it's in the basement.

To get there, the closest tube is Holborn and walk down Kingsway from there and then left into Lincoln's Inn Fields. The house is about the middle of the block.
Sir John Soane's Museum
13 Lincoln's Inn Fields
London, England, WC2A 3BP
+44 20 7405 2107

© LP 2000-2009