Image: Sambourne House © RBKC. Image Jaron James

Things To Do

Sambourne House

Sambourne House | An Immaculately Preserved Piece of Victorian History

Period houses are some of the beautiful in London, full stop.

You only need to look at 18 Stafford Terrace in Kensington for proof; the former residence of Punch’s chief cartoonist Linley Sambourne, his wife and two children. Like Emery Walker’s House, a textbook example of Arts and Crafts era decor over in Hammersmith, Sambourne House is now one of London’s most unusual museums, owned by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and open to the public. The big USP is that it’s been largely untouched since the Sambourne family first moved in in 1875,  so us modern-day folk can admire it and get a first-hand taste of what middle-class Victorian life might have been like, without the need of a time-machine…

Sambourne House

Image: Sambourne House © Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, image courtesy of Jaron James

Although creating cartoons for Punch (a well-known satirical magazine) was Sambourne’s forte, he was also apt at making his house look incredibly ornate without having to splash the cash. It appears he was a bit of a compulsive buyer as well… and he’s filled (or rather crammed) the space with all kinds of interesting pieces of second-hand furniture, ticking antique clocks, china plates and ceramics, while covering the walls in rare Morris & Co wallpaper, and the floors in Persian rugs and Minton tiling. There’s even stained-glass windows. The Scandi minimalists may view it with contempt, but for anyone into aestheticism – the arts movement that favoured handcrafted products and individualism over industrialised manufacturing – it’s a sight for sore eyes.

Tours of Sambourne House last about 90 mins and are guided, so expect a full-on history lesson on your visit too. You’ll walk through the dining room, centrepieced by an octagon-shaped oak table where the Sambournes would regularly host dinner parties for Linley’s arty mates from the Holland Park Circle; the main bedroom (fitted with Morris & Co wallpaper); the bathroom (partially cover your eyes in here, there’s a lot of photos of naked people); the drawing room (aka the living room, furnished with a piano) and upstairs in the attic, the study where Linley would complete much of his latter-stage work. On the walls, you’ll notice many of his original black and white sketches for Punch, as well as thousands of photographs which he used to improve his illustrative powers.

They give you a picture of his artistic process…


NOTE: Sambourne House is open for visits 10am-5.30pm, Weds-Sun. Admission is £11 and you need to book ahead –  you can do that, and find out more, right HERE. You can also buy joint tickets £20 which includes admission to nearby Leighton House.

Sambourne House | 18 Stafford Terrace, London W8 7BH

And for afterwards? It’s got to be one of the best restaurants in Kensington

Sambourne House

18 Stafford Terrace, Kensington, W8 7BH

020 7361 3790