Geffrye MuseumCraigEasy to get to? ★ ★ ★Good for kids? ★ ★ ★Value for money?freeWorth a visit? ★ ★ ★003
This had better be good because it's quite a long walk. You have to get a tube train to Old Street and then traipse your way through an ugly bit of London for fifteen minutes. But when you finally arrive it's quite a nice surprise... because one minute you're on a busy main road and then all of a sudden it's peace and quiet in a countryside courtyard. All of the brown brick almshouses are wrapped around in ivy and it really is pretty. There are some big huge trees shading the lawn and it reminds me of a Cambridge college. Let's hope the inside lives up to the exterior...
The first room is just a short line of wooden chairs... so it doesn't bode well. After that you get a few plates and knives and forks. Then it picks up a bit with a reconstruction of a Tudor room.
A ha... I see how this place is arranged now. They begin with a few examples of Tudor furniture, before moving on to a mock-up of the room. Then they move onto the next period in time and follow it with another mock-up of the room. And you keep moving through history like that, so you can see how the room has changed over the last 400 years.
Quite a neat idea... but unfortunately it's all rather dry and boring. None of the reconstructions are original to the almshouse, so it's just a collection of disparate objects they've assembled from each period. You get to see a few tables and chairs and writing desks, for example, and china cups and teapots, and different coloured floorboard planks. You can follow their changing tastes in wallpaper too. Most of the objects aren't even real, but are modern copies in a similar style.
Once you get up to the 1900s you may as well just be walking around a big branch of IKEA. Who wants to spend a day looking at an office chair from the 1970s? And the 1980s? And the 1990s? (You can do all of those.) You can look at a ten-year-old sofa too, and a rug and a lamp and a telephone from 1965.
If you've got a particular interest in furniture then you might want to give the museum a try... but not before you visit the V&A, which is a million billion times better. They do have a nice little cafe though, but it seems to be a hang-out for pushchair mums and their toddler kids.
P.S.: I always feel a little bit guilty slating a place when it's free, because at least they don't have the cheek to charge an entrance fee like some places -- but what the hell. Just because it's free doesn't mean it's any good.
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I rather like the Geffrye Museum. Much nicer to get out at Liverpool Street, have a look round spitalfields market then walk straight down spitalfields, towards Hackney road and then on to the museum, passing lots of quirky shops, bars and coffee shops and an abundance of Vietnamese restaurants. Also within walking distance is brick lane, lots of nice shops and a market and, even better, beigel bake.
Yeah, I think I like the walk and the exterior better than the insides. It's a lovely building and they could do so much more with it. But maybe I was a bit harsh... to be fairer to them, they always have a big exhibition every Christmas where they decorate the rooms, which is supposed to be quite good
From the author: “The good thing about this book is that I have genuinely been to all of these places myself. And I don’t just regurgitate the same old spiel that you find in 95% of guidebooks. It’s not the kind of book where I just tell you the address, how much it costs, and leave it at that. I have explored every single one of these attractions myself. You’ll find info about opening times, prices, the recommended time required at each attraction, example itineraries, a guide to using the buses and trains… and plenty more.”