Acroterion [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Sir John (1753–1837), architect of the Bank of England, bequeathed his eccentric house to the nation on one condition: nothing be changed. It's a house full of surprises. In the Picture Room, two of Hogarth's famous Rake's Progress paintings swing away to reveal secret gallery recesses where you can find works by Canaletto and Turner. Everywhere, mirrors play tricks with light and space, and split-level floors worthy of a fairground funhouse disorient you. Ongoing restoration work, due to be completed by 2016, will see Soane's private apartments finally opened up to the public, as well as the catacombs in the basement.