With tiled halls and intricate artwork, Leighton House Museum will give you serious home envy.
Deep in the heart of Kensington, you’ll find a place called the Leighton House Museum. From the outside, it looks like any other Kensington townhouse – albeit a rather nice one. (See our guide to the best museums in London.)
You won’t see it by looking from the street, but Leighton House Museum is hiding a secret on the inside. It is, in fact, a magnificent palace of art.
Each floor is crammed to the rafters with paintings, sculptures, and magnificently tiled rooms. The person we have to thank for this is the house’s former owner: artist and aristocrat Frederic, Lord Leighton, who decided that his home would make the best canvas of all. Here he is, looking splendidly beardy:
Like most of the famous Victorians, Freddy was a colourful fellow. Amongst his achievements were commanding a battalion in the British army composed entirely of artists. Leighton also holds the record for the shortest peerage in British history – having been made a baron on January 24, 1896, he promptly celebrated by dropping dead the next day. Well, at least his house was nice. Very nice indeed, particularly the famous Arab Hall at the heart of the museum.
Arab Hall was inspired by Leighton’s visit to Syria in 1873. Apparently, it went so well that he recreated the sights inside his own house, using antique tiles from Damascus. Because that’s just what people did in the days before cameras. Aside from being drop-dead gorgeous, the hall also features a working fountain (#lifegoals).
You’ll find paintings by Leighton’s contemporaries (including Millais, Watts, and Sargent) adorning the walls, as well as work by Frederic himself. With all this Victorian bling lying around, it’s easy to see why Queen Victoria dropped by Frederic’s palace for a visit.
Leighton House Museum is also used for filming, photoshoots, and as a wedding venue. However, if you don’t have the funds for any of those, simply wandering around the house is a rather lovely way to spend an afternoon. If you fancy making a day of it, the Design Museum and Holland Park are both nearby.
Location: 12 Holland Park Road, W14 8LZ. Nearest station is Kensington Olympia. See it on Google Maps.
Opening hours: 10am – 5:30pm daily, but they’re closed on Tuesdays.
Entry: £9 for adults, £7 for concessions. Tickets are only available on the door.
More information: head to their website.