London: Victorian Holland Park, Preserved in Amber


ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER NEIGHBORHOOD, another historic house museum…in yesterday’s drizzle I took the Tube to Holland Park, en route to 18 Stafford Terrace, the perfectly preserved upper-middle class home of Punch cartoonist Edward Linley Sambourne and his family.

The Sambournes moved to the newly built five-story row house in 1876 and spent the next ten years furnishing it in then-fashionable Aesthetic style, with William Morris wallpapers even on the ceiling and bric-a-brac everywhere. No surface, vertical or horizontal, was left uncovered, by framed drawings and photographs (Sambourne was an avid amateur photographer, especially of female nudes), bronze statuettes, Japanese screens, blue-and-white china and so on.

The family lived in the house for 36 years. After the deaths of Linley and Marion Sambourne, their children, Ray and Maud, kept the furnishings intact. In 1989, the Sambourne’s granddaughter, Anne deeded it to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and it was opened to the public.

On my way to 18 Stafford Terrace, I got a bit hung up in Holland Park itself, larger and more photogenic than expected.


They don’t stint on daffodils in the wilder sections of the park…


Other areas of the park are more formal, above. There’s even a small Japanese garden inspired by Kyoto’s temple gardens, below, along with playgrounds and cricket fields.


The Linley Sambourne house is on a block lined with uniform rows of same.


Then I walked the surrounding streets, enjoying the glossy painted doorways and signs of spring.


I had lunch at The Ivy Kensington Brasserie on nearby Kensington High Street. My chicken and quinoa salad, below, came with a lime-yogurt dressing.


In the evening, I met a friend at Shakespeare’s Globe for a Jacobean tragedy, The White Devil, in a production lit only by candlelight. We made it to the intermission.

About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
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9 Responses to London: Victorian Holland Park, Preserved in Amber

  1. coppermaven says:

    Now that house is definitely Victorian! so fussy!

  2. melanie charnas says:

    I particularly loved this!

  3. Diana Prizeman💜 says:

    What exquisite photos Cara! Having to stay in UK an extra day due to blizzard in NY! Be thankful for the mild weather here!

  4. Lucy Larner says:

    Before leaving London you must see Leighton House Museum, former home and studio of the leading Victorian artist, Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830-1896) and Sir John Soane
    Museum at “Lincoln’s Fields Inn, former home of neoclassical architect. I’ve been to Leighton House; unfortunately I’ve only seen photos or Soane’s home. You will awed.

    Lucy Larner – formerly of Troy, NY

  5. Cate says:

    Oh more more more more more, please. Love hits. How rare is a house museum with original everything — especially Aesthetic Movement. Are there any original kitchens or bathrooms on the tour? Thank you so much!

  6. cara says:

    One semi original bathroom, no kitchen in this house unfortunately – the lower level is used for offices. This was your recommendation, for which I thank you!

  7. cara says:

    Thanks for weighing in, Lucy, and bringing the Leighton house and Soane’s to everyone’s attention. They are indeed fabulous, but I’ve actually been to both on prior visits to London, which is why on this trip i’m reaching for the more obscure ones!

  8. Cate says:

    Thanks Cara. If you took any photos of the bathroom I’m dying to see it. :)

  9. literarybrooklyn says:

    Those signs of spring are balm to those of us in NY right now….Great post, as always.

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