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London Sights

Sir John Soane's Museum

  • 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields Map It
  • Fodor's Choice

Updated 02/27/2014

Fodor's Review

Sir John (1753–1837), architect of the Bank of England, bequeathed his wonderful, eccentric house to the nation on one condition: nothing be changed. It's truly a house full of surprises. In the Picture Room, for instance, two of Hogarth's Rake's Progress series are among the paintings on panels that swing away to reveal secret gallery pockets with even more paintings. Everywhere, mirrors and colors play tricks with light and space, and split-level floors worthy

of a fairground funhouse disorient you. In a basement chamber sits the vast 1300 BC sarcophagus of Seti I, lit by a domed skylight two stories above. (When Sir John acquired this priceless object for £2,000, after it was rejected by the British Museum, he celebrated with a three-day party.) The tranquil courtyard gardens are also open to the public, and a below-street-level passage joins two of the courtyards to the museum. Because of the small size of the museum, limited numbers are allowed entry at any one time, so you may have a short wait outside—but it's worth it. Hour-long tours are offered (check the website for details), and on the first Tuesday of the month there's a very popular candlelight evening opening, from 6 to 9 pm (best to arrive at 5.30).

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Sight Information

Address:

13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3BP, England

Map It

Phone:

020-7405–2107

Website: www.soane.org

Sight Details:

  • Free; tours £10
  • Tues.–Sat. 10–5; also 6–9 on 1st Tues. of month

Updated 02/27/2014

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Fodorite Reviews

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Jan 17, 2009

Best "hidden" museum in London

My favourite museum in London (right next to my offices as well so I'm a bit biased). This is like walking around some mad collector's house and the Hogarth's are a highlight but not the only joys to behold. A rare treat indeed.

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Apr 6, 2008

Wonderfully eccentric

As historic houses go, this one's a winner. Has a lot of original furnishings and tons of cast copies of pediments and statuary, plus prints and such. Everything is stuffed in, yet because of Soane's applied architectural knowledge, the place seems surprisingly open and inviting (mirrors, skylights, lighting use, and trick panels put to good use). Eccentric, but definitely well worth the visit.

By Ada

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Sep 23, 2002

Hidden gem! Quite special!

We followed the advice by some nice people on the board to visit this house museum. We were lucky to go on a day with guided tour given (Saturday), and it was very informative and interesting. The collection of art inside this house is overwhelming, and many eccentric architectural additions showed the style of Sir John Soane. You cannot compare this with a large museum- definitely worth seeing if you are into house museums, personal stories, history

and details. This is quite special!

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