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Sir John Soane’s Museum was a gift from the 19th-century architect. As well as designing some of London’s most important buildings (like the Bank of England), Sir John Soane’s passion for collecting rare memorabilia resulted in a hotchpotch of objects from all around the world – books, paintings, sculptures and ceramics all fight for space amongst his skeletons and ancient Egyptian sarcophagi.
The ramshackle nature of his home makes it one of the most intriguing museums in London. You can walk through his dining room, library, study and hall – all crammed with every kind of historical knick-knack.
The cast collection is a worthy sideshow to one in the V&A. It contains casts of famous statues, sculptures and celebrity death masks.
The museum’s most celebrated object takes pride of place in the atmospheric crypt – the sarcophagus of Seti I. This dates from around 1370 BC and is one of the most important funerary objects outside of Egypt.
The Picture Room contains works by Canaletto, J W Turner, and William Hogarth’s Rake’s Progress – cartoon caricatures of London’s drunken scum. Famous architects get an airing with the private papers of Robert Adam, and Christopher Wren’s pocket watch.
Other eclectic items include Napoleon Bonaparte’s pistols, and a 13th-century Bible.
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