They call it a museum: it’s actually the house where John Soane lived and worked. But he had such a penchant for collecting rare and beautiful objects that it eventually became an Aladdin’s cave of artifacts, tied together by the happily inquisitive character of Sir John Soane himself. Sir John Soane lived from 1753 – 1837, and at the height of his career was professor of architecture at the Royal Academy. Among his best known buildings are the Bank of England, and Dulwich Picture Gallery – though the best insight into the man himself is without a doubt his house on Lincoln’s Inn Fields in the heart of London.
A sea of priceless objects
Stepping into Sir John Soane’s museum is quite an experience. Every corner, every wall, every room, at all levels you’ll see objects from around the world and reaching back to ancient times. In one room you’ll find the sarcophagus of Egyptian pharaoh Seti I, Chinese ceramics, architectural fragments and stained glass, Peruvian pottery and Indian ivory. A true treasure trove, it’s a joy to simply look and marvel at how much there is, before thinking about the stories behind every single piece.
Secret panels and famous paintings
As well as artifacts, Soane also accumulated a great selection of paintings. Here you’ll find Canaletto beside Turner, and perhaps William Hogarth’s most famous series: ‘A Rake’s Progress’. Then, opening up the wall panels, you’ll find architectural drawings, buildings proposed by Soane that were never undertaken, and even a painting of his Bank of England reworked as a classical ruin – one of Soane’s most favourite subjects.
Explore by candlelight
All in all, the John Soane Museum brings together a fascinating Victorian lifestyle with an array of incredible rarities, amassed through the curiosity and interest of a compelling man. One of the best ways to enjoy the museum is during its candlelit openings, which really evoke the atmosphere of the Victorian era. One bright spot leads the way while the fantastic shadows of the great collection move all around – you can imagine how spooky it must have been to live here! Entry to the John Soane Museum is free, and the museum is lit by candlelight on the first Tuesday of each month from 6-9pm. It gets very popular, so tickets are provided to the first 200 people who arrive. If you liked this post, leave us a comment below! Find out more about British attractions on the VisitBritain LoveWall