London's Historic Houses
Some of London's most fascinating museums are its historic houses - thanks to their famous former residents
London Shh… is an association of six Small Historic Houses – private, registered charities with significantly less funding than the major museums – which have banded together to share resources and increase visitor numbers. With few exhibits on show (the Freud Museum is an exception in this list), historic houses can appear surprisingly empty if you’re used to the literal treasure troves of visual stimulation laid out in the big museums. Guided tours are recommended as a way of getting the most out of a visit as knowledgeable guides can bring colour to the life of the subject they are passionate about. As a Handel House Museum volunteer remarks: ‘We’re not a theme park. Visitors come for the wow factor of standing in the room where “Messiah” was composed.’
Explanatory panels, too, are crucial and a house can stand or fall on the quality of its annotations. In essence, the historic property visitor experience boils down to a concise crib sheet on the life of a character who has made their mark on this town and the six houses in the London Shh… association reveal reams about their one-time occupants and the impact they had on London.