Geffrye Museum in July 2013

Geffrye Museum in July 2013

27. July 2013
Geffrye Museum

Geffrye Museum

Photo: December 2008

Geffrye Museum

Kingsland Road, London E2 8EA

Description of Geffrye Museum

Grade 1 listed 18th century almshouse. Built in 1714 by the Ironmongers' Company with a bequest from Sir Robert Geffrye, twice Master of the Company and former Lord Mayor of London, the almshouses provided shelter for around fifty pensioners for almost two hundred years.

By the early 20th century, Shoreditch had become one of the most overcrowded and unsavoury parts of London, and the Company decided to sell the property in order to relocate the almshouses to a healthier area.

Following a petition to prevent the demolition of the almshouses, mainly to provide a public open space in such a densely populated area of London, the almshouses were converted to a museum.

One of the almshouses has been restored and was officially opened by the Lord Mayor of London in October 2002. It still has most of its internal joinery intact, including its staircase, upper floors, closets and panelling. Two rooms have been furnished to show the living conditions of pensioners in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Visitors are able to compare the sparse furnishings and few personal possessions of the generally poor inmates of the 18th century with the rather more comfortable surroundings of the better-off pensioners of the late 19th century. The two remaining rooms and the basement contain displays on the history of the almshouses and on the kind of people who lived there, in the context of philanthropic and social housing in East London. Click on our Visiting page to find out the almshouse opening hours.

In 2005 the Geffrye published A History of the Geffrye Almshouses by Dr Kathy Haslam which is available from the museum shop.

The 20th century wing.

The museum houses a major new extension, which opened in November 1998.


Connected Companies


The nearest tube, train and bus stations.
Hoxton Rail Station
Hoxton Rail Station
Hoxton Station / Geffrye Museum
149, 242, 243, 394, N242

News: (1)

It has been announced that the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded a Development Grant of £518,500 to help the Geffrye Museum progress its plans for an exciting development under its new title of Museum of the Home. The HLF first-round pass means that the Geffrye can now progress to the second stage of the HLF application process and have up to two years to submit more detailed plans and apply for the balance of their £10.9m bid. The total project cost is an estimated £13.2m and is due for completion in April 2015.

Guided by a Masterplan by David Chipperfield Architects, the trustees and staff are seeking to make the museum a centre for learning and discovery about not just the physical nature of home, but also the ideas, meanings and values which are expressed
through home.

The plan aims to ease congestion caused by growing numbers of visitors, open up public access to the collections, library and archive and increase the capacity for education, learning and dissemination.

It will:
• Provide new entrances to the museum from Hoxton Station and Kingsland Road to
a single, central reception space able to handle increasing numbers of visitors.
• Ease congestion in the museum’s period room displays, improve visitor flow
throughout the museum and create a distinctive and attractive restaurant.
• Create public access to its library, archives and collections for use, study and
enjoyment and increase its capacity to disseminate ideas and knowledge about the
home through a new temporary exhibitions gallery and improved education and conference facilities.

The achievement of these development proposals during 2014-15 will be a fitting celebration for some very important anniversaries for the museum, 400 years after the museum’s namesake Robert Geffrye’s birth in 1613, 300 years after the opening of the Geffrye Almshouses in 1714 and 100 years after the opening of the Geffrye Museum in 1914.

The Geffrye’s director, David Dewing says: “This combination of our vision for the Museum of the Home and the growing demand amongst new and existing audiences creates a pressing need for physical changes to our buildings. We are determined to create the best possible conditions for our collections, library and archive and to ensure many more people can engage with them for learning and enjoyment. It is fantastic news that the HLF
have given the project their initial support and we are very excited to be able to move ahead, based on the Masterplan developed by David Chipperfield last year”.

Sue Bowers, Head of HLF London, says: “The Geffrye Museum is a popular cultural gem with a particularly impressive track record for working with Hackney’s diverse communities.

The Heritage Lottery Fund is pleased to be giving initial support for this exciting project and
particularly welcomes the museum’s plans to develop the site as well as enhance its already impressive learning programme”.


The main elements of the Geffrye’s development plan, supported by a Masterplan by David Chipperfield Architects, are as follows:
- A new entrance and reception area
We will create a single reception space at the heart of the new Geffrye with entrances both from Hoxton Station and Kingsland Road. Visitors will be able to access different parts of the museum from this central hub, increasing the museum’s capacity and reducing congestion.

- Improved visitor flow
An enclosed, glazed walkway will be built along the rear of the almshouses leading from the new reception area to the north corner of the museum. This will give views over the period gardens and provide a one-way route back past the sequence of period room displays in the almshouses.

- New restaurant
A new restaurant will be located either in a new ‘pavilion’ building alongside the reception area or in the former Victorian pub on the corner of Cremer Street, which will be sensitively restored and extended. In either location the restaurant will have street access.

- New facilities for collections, exhibitions and learning.
A new building on two floors will provide an additional 1,500 sqm to open up our collections, library and archives and make them available for study, exhibition and learning
as an internationally important resource for studies of the home.

Facilities will include:
• temporary exhibition gallery, a large, flexible, purpose built space with direct access from the reception area;
• stores for the museum’s object collections, the main one being open access, with a large selection of objects for visitors to view at will. The stores will provide state of the art conditions for the proper conservation and care of the collections, currently kept in poorly controlled areas with very restricted access;
• library with a reading room and stack for the book collection and archives; these are currently in temporary storage and mostly inaccessible. We anticipate the acquisition of the Evan Bedford Library, the most important and comprehensive private furniture history library in the country, which will complement our existing holdings and, together with our growing archive and collections, create an internationally significant resource for studies on aspects of home;
• conference facility for 100 delegates, located either in the new building or in the restored and extended former pub, to enable us to develop our study programmes relating to the home. The facility will ease pressure on existing education spaces and increase our overall capacity for learning and dissemination.

Together, these improvements will preserve and enhance all the best elements of the Geffrye whilst opening up our collections, resources and facilities for more people to use and enjoy.

15/05/2011 23:17 by Buildington

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