Worldwide icon-chevron-right Europe icon-chevron-right United Kingdom icon-chevron-right England icon-chevron-right London icon-chevron-right Sir John Soane’s Museum

Sir John Soane’s Museum

Museums, History Holborn Free
5 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars
(43user reviews)
 (© Jonathan Perugia / Time Out)
© Jonathan Perugia / Time Out
 (© Jonathan Perugia / Time Out)
© Jonathan Perugia / Time Out
 (© Jonathan Perugia / Time Out)
© Jonathan Perugia / Time Out
 (Hogarth's A Rake's Progress )
Hogarth's A Rake's Progress Henry Hudson, A Rake's Progress: The Levée, plasticine on canvas, 2011
 (© Jonathan Perugia / Time Out)
© Jonathan Perugia / Time Out
 (Sir John Soane bust © Jonathan Perugia / Time Out)
Sir John Soane bust © Jonathan Perugia / Time Out
 (The library © Martin Charles)
The library © Martin Charles
 (© George Scharf)
© George Scharf
 (© Martin Charles)
© Martin Charles
 (A model of The Pantheon)
A model of The PantheonFrançois Fouquet, Copy of the Pantheon at Rome

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

When he wasn’t designing notable buildings (among them the original Bank of England), Sir John Soane (1753-1837) obsessively collected art, furniture and architectural ornamentation. In the nineteenth century, he turned his house into a museum to which, he said, ‘amateurs and students’ should have access. The result is this perfectly amazing place.

Much of the museum’s appeal derives from the domestic setting. The modest rooms were modified by Soane with ingenious devices to channel and direct daylight, and to expand space, including walls that open out like cabinets to display some of his many paintings (Canaletto, Turner, Hogarth). The Breakfast Room has a beautiful domed ceiling, inset with convex mirrors. The extraordinary Monument Court contains a sarcophagus of alabaster, so fine that it’s almost translucent, that was carved for the pharaoh Seti I (1291-78 BC) and discovered in his tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. There are also numerous examples of Soane’s eccentricity, not least the cell for his imaginary monk ‘Padre Giovanni’.

In May 2015 the Museum opened Soane's private apartment and Model Room to the public. The apartments had not been open to visitors for over 160 years, so guests paying a visit to the fully restored model room, bedroom, bathroom, book passage, oratory and morning room will get a true glimpse of London's past.



Address: 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields
Transport: Tube: Holborn
Price: Free, £12.50 tours
Opening hours: Wed-Sun 10am-5pm
Do you own this business?

What's On

Pick a date


Please select two valid dates

The first date can't be after the second date

No events found for the selected dates

  • Until Sunday May 31 2020

Users say (43)

5 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

4.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:37
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:2
1 person listening
1 of 1 found helpful

An astounding, educational, eccentric and unique London experience.

I am a keen supporter and visitor to this place, every visitor should have this house museum on their list of "musts"

Even with much building and restoration work taking place it's fascinating.

Many people comment on entrance bring free, but PLEASE support this worthy cause by donation or purchase in the museum shop.

Now stop reading this and GO!

1 of 1 found helpful

Lovely museum just off Kingsway and ideal for a short break away from the office. All sorts of quirks but admire the varied glazing and the quality of light which has provided inspiration for many a modern architect. A nearby cafe in the park by Lincoln's Inn means you can enjoy a coffee or snack before returning to the bustle of Holborn.

1 of 1 found helpful

Truly a hidden gem, and..... be still the beating of my tight little Yorkshire heart... it's all free!! A curious house which belonged to eighteenth century architect: Sir John Soane, who designed famous buildings in the Neo-Classical style . This museum proves that artistic types with huge amounts of money and time do form the basis of the most fascinating of collections. Indeed what makes SJS so amazing is the never ending curious and surprising objects and artefacts. One minute you are in a room, comfortably admiring the Rake's Progress by Hogarth, the next minute they have opened the walls up to reveal more works of art... The proportions of the house will also shock you, it is truly like the tardis with the narrowest -seeming frontage but inside a real warren of rooms, leading down to a real, bona fide Egyptian scarcophagus. Do check opening hours before you go... The best museum in London...

1 of 1 found helpful

Preserved since he lived there in the 19th century, The Sir John Soane's Museum is a gem of peculiar bits and pieces collected by the architect of the original Bank of England. While alive, he allowed his students to come and sketch things from his collection, which includes an Egyptian sarcophagus as well as things taken from other buildings. The highlight for me is the wood-panelled room with hidden panels concealing the original version of Hogarth's 'A Rake's Progress' which, if you're lucky, will be explained to you in a highly amusing way by one of the staff. Best of all, the whole thing is free.

1 of 1 found helpful

Great museum. Quirky experience. Almost entirely unique opportunity to view a house museum - house museums predate the current purpose built museums we visit today. Also an opportunity to become a visitor of the 19th century, and an opportunity to see how the architect Sir John Soane transformed the house into what we see today - with windows everywhere, and ingenious lighting techniques. Don't miss the picture room - and ask the staff to open the panels for you - and the room turns into a balcony looking onto the basement! Tip: the staff can be very friendly and informative. Just be confident and not afraid of asking questions! Text panels and plaques to inform you about what you are looking at are few and far between, (to preserve the house as Sir John Soane intended it), so the staff are there to fill you in instead!


Hidden gem in Holborn, you ask. This, I answer cheerfully.

Near Lincoln's Inn Fields lies this weird house. Home to an eccentric art collectionneur, it is filled with great pieces from different centuries. Slightly overwhelming it is however incredibly interesting.

The house itself is also worth the detour. Giving a glimpse into Victorian life, it is one of the few remaining houses of this period that truly showcases what it was like to live in central London back then.


If you're a lover of Roman and Egyptian sculptures and/or architecture then you can't miss this hidden gem. It use to be the house-museum of the architect Sir John Soane where he displayed the artifacts he collected thanks to his numerous travels and the projects he worked on as an architect. The house may appear small, but this is just an illusion, as it displays a big collection of work of art. I would advice you to go on to one of the Museum Lates as the museum's guides are knowledgable and passionate about the collection and the museum is way more enjoyable with a someone guiding you through what it has to offer.


Intimate and romantic museum full of paintings and roman/egyptian artefacts. It felt like going into one's house rather than a museum. The finest collection is the limestone sarcophagus delicately decorated with hieroglyphs at the cellar. The museum officers are knowledgable and friendly. Love their explanations of paintings and sculptures!

I loved visiting John Soane's Museum, the greatest English architect. It is a fantastic and cosy mansion in Central London in front of Lincoln's Inn Fields. 

Visiting it you can feel how important design and painting was to him. There you can get the secrets behind the design of the Bank of England, Downing Street and some justice rooms at the Courts. 

However, Marc Quinn's exhibition was underwhelming. My recommendation, spend more time in the Canaletto section. It is simply unbelievable!!! You should be looking for a small dog in all of his Canaletto. Surely, the are in them. 

Amazing experience! The staff are very lovely and kind. For me the most interesting thing was the room with a hidden collection of paintings behind the wall. I recommend everyone to visit this incredible museum.

Sir John Soane's Museum is a must see! Located in what used to be his house (or rather his three houses), the museum is a bottomless source of inspiration. It contains everything: from a sarcophagus to small parts of Roman buildings as well as what seem to be thousands of books. The charm also lies in the fact that the house has been left untouched, so no signs here but it is a wonderful opportunity to chat with the friendly Staff who know the best stories and hidden secrets.


Sir John Soanes was a pretty famous architect but it turns out he was also a collector and hoarder of art, both paintings and sculptures. This museum was actually his home and as such was where he kept his hoard. Basically you can now wander around this museum and check out the collection. It's part stately home in appearance and part quirky hoarding paradise. The best section in my mind was definitely down in the crypt style space where you'll find numerous statues, busts and other obscure pieces.

They don't allow photos in the museum which is a bit pants in today's click happy times and they'll ask you put any bags you may have inside another clear plastic bag as you arrive but hey entrance is free so it's hard to complain.

When I arrived on a Saturday afternoon I could walk straight in but when I left less than an hour later there was a huge queue outside. Not quite sure what happened there but I guess this place is kinda popular at times.

The house doesn't look like much from the outside but obviously inside is a different story. People that go here seem to rave about it as a hidden gem wherein they could spend hours just staring at things. I don't disagree it is interesting but I've seen better. I spent about 40 minutes here and have no desire to return. Good to see but there are far more exciting things to do in London in my opinion...if you do go here then you should probably head to the nearby Hunterian museum also. Now that's good!


Weird and Wonderful! Visited Sir John Soane's Museum on its monthly candle lit nights (go early to queue!) on a cold December evening and had a really great time. Imagine British museum condensed to a 3-story building managed by a spooky wealthy uncle like Count Olaf from a series of unfortunate event. Especially great for arts / architecture students and lovers. I'd love to go again during the day to see the artifacts in more detail. 

For its unique collection, its carefully preserved early 19th century interior and Soane's wonderful use of light using a variety of individually designed glass lanterns in the ceilings.

Weird, atmospheric, evocative and inspirational. Impossible to know what everything is, which makes it all the better. Visiting as dusk settles and it starts to get a little spooky is one of London's best experiences, and the drama of the Rake's Progress room reveal never gets old.

It's a lovely house with an amazing eclectic collection. You can almost feel Soane's presence.

Facinating and rare example of an eccentric genius’s home - a real chance to understand the man and his talents as well as his collecting habits. Typically English.

The Soane Museum is the most extraordinary place. There is nowhere better to gain an understanding of the culture of the late 18th and early 19th centuries from the point of view of a scholarly collector and architect. Ceaselessly fascinating and deliciously eccentric, it is the best place to send a wintery afternoon, particularly when the candles are lit in the basement....

I happened upon this extraordinary museum a few years ago, and I continue to be mesmerized by the design and decorations. It cannot be explained; it simply must be seen!

Quite simply the best house museum in the world. The most authentic experience of Regency London without any modern impositions of panels, labels etc. you will find anywhere - a work of genius.

Hidden gem. Amazing space and best House Museum in London without a doubt.

Most beautiful place to visit, so full of curios and nooks! Staff are so informative.

Such a treasure trove! Discover the Turner paintings hidden in the wood panelled walls. Visit by daylight to see all it has to offer. Then visit on one of the monthly candle lit evening sessions (get there early, phased entrance, queues are long and not everyone gets in) for an atmospheric (and rather romantic) experience. Then just keep visiting, there is so much to see.

Just brilliant museum - a collector's pile of treasures shown in his wonderful characterful building off Lincoln's Inn. Friendly knowledgeable staff. Free!


If you think you’re a hoarder, think again. John Soane, a neo-classical architect in London’s Regent period, is a master hoarder. But unlike us, this curious man has amassed a hugely impressive collection of earth treasures under one roof. His home in fact in Lincoln’s Inn Field in Holborn.

Among the many rooms you can explore are the crypt, newly opened kitchen, grand drawing room, breakfast room and more. The museum holds drawings and models of Soane’s project as well paintings and antiquities. It’s a big home but not the biggest. You’ll be amazed how Soane has found room for his collection. Every inch of Soane’s wall is adorned with some kind of ornament.

The Soane Museum recently completed a restoration project. Parts of the museum that were  once out-of-bounds to the public is now open to explore including the kitchen. The restoration also means the museum is better organised so you’re guided from one room to the next so you don’t miss a thing.

The museum is like stepping back in time. Soane’s home has been left as it was at the time of his death 180 years ago as he wished in his will. You get a sense of life in Regency London and what life must have been like then.

What I loved about the Museum is the drawings on the first floor. Soane had his own blueprint on how London's building should be designed such as the House f Parliament. These designs never came to fruition obviously. But it’s fascinating to imagine what some of London’s iconic buildings could have looked if Soane's plan was  approved.

If you look out from the window on the first floor overlooking the Lincoln’s Inn and the streets below, you can actually imagine what the streets might have looked like 180 years ago with Regency London in its pomp.

The John Soane Museum is one of many museums often overlooked. I’d say it’s a gem and well worth visiting. It is small and you can expect to queue. But it’s a short wait and worth it. If you like the British museum then you’ll enjoy the Soane Museum too. And since the two museums are so close to each other, you should visit. And it’s FREE.

This venue is a treasure in the heart of London and their staff / volunteers are so knowledgeable and dedicated. I always enjoy returning here again and again.

This is a real hidden gem in London. A very quirky museum that makes you feel a bit like a child in a sweetshop - there are so many incredible things to discover! Go there on the first Tuesday of every month: from 6pm the lights are switched off and there is candlelight everywhere. It's magical and a beautiful experience.

Probably one of my favourite museums in London. Been there a couple of times and discovered something new every time. It's not only for architecture enthusiasts as it has a wide collection of statues, paintings, books. the house itself is a quirky gem.

Recommended for everyone who likes a bit of history, but can't be asked to walk around it for four hours.

Bonus- as many museums in London it's free, but you might experience a short queue at the entrance.


Unmissable museum! It´s a unique and curious experience through the 19th-century architect´s house. The house itself is worth going and the art collection (artworks, sculptures and furniture) acquired by Sir Soane is a one of a kind. I´d definitely put this on the map. 


Sir John Soane’s Museum sums up in a nutshell what I most love about London.

Yes, we have giant, world-leading cultural attractions – The British Museum, The National Gallery, The Natural History Museum - containing fabulous and unique exhibits that continue to attract global tourists year-on-year, and for good reason.

But even amongst the smaller, lesser-known establishments there are gems of such quality that make you wonder how you could ever see and learn and do all of the best things that this city has to offer.

Sir John Soane’s Museum is one such place. A small, historically preserved building, it houses fantastic pieces from the private collection of just one man: Sir John Soane. The history of the museum is almost as fun as its contents – Soame created it with an Act of Parliament that bequeathed it to the British Nation, cutting his rather peeved son out of his inheritance in the process (his loss is our gain). 

Here, you can not only explore a beautiful building and the largely architectural collection, but also encounter the fascinating “A Rake’s Progress” by William Hogarth. This moralistic series of 18th Century paintings are not only beautiful works of art, but a fable to unravel. Hogarth’s attention to detail is a sight to be seen – but make sure you don’t miss them, as the museum’s fun method of displaying them can lead a lot of visitors to stroll by without noticing they’re there. “A Rake’s Progress” alone is worth the visit.

The Museum has also assimilated itself well into modern London life. Its small size means that you often have to queue – which anyone who’s anyone knows that means it’s worth a visit! The management have also considered the appeal of the “museum late” session, with a popular candlelit event occurring on the first Tuesday of every month.

So, when you’re next looking for an hour of culture, head to Lincoln’s Inn Fields: the best thing is, it won’t cost you a penny.


Step through the door of Sir John Soane's Museum and be transported back in time. This time warp remains exactly as it was when Soane passed it over to the State in the early 1800s. It's unbelievable really that it still remains open as a free public museum today. This house is not like any national trust house you may have visited, here you can see exactly how Soane lived and picture him sitting at his little desk working out his next grandiose structure (he was an architect). Take time to ponder and look up and around in every room, there are little nuggets everywhere. The highlight is the picture room, in this small space over 100 pictures are displayed, but you'll have to wait for the attendant to show you exactly how so many have been crammed sure not to miss it. With the installation of a new lift now all can enjoy the museum. When I visited there was a Sarah Lucas exhibition on display, showing that despite not have changed in 200 years, they still remain on the pulse of modern culture. Factor in a bit of queueing time when visiting as they limit the number of people allowed in the house at a time, but it's well worth the wait.

A celebration of the Great British Eccentric, with intellect, beauty and curiosity. Hurrah for Sir John Soane, whose museum is a haven and sanctuary from economic, driven hurly-burly.


This is a must  for everyone who is interested in architecture and art.

Not only the building is worth a peek, but Sir John Soane collected some marvellous pieces during his lifetime, which are on display.

Stepping through the door feels like a journey through time - this museum is not only nice to look at, but also very educational.

There might be queues outside, but it is well worth the wait and I have never grown tired of spending my lunch breaks there on a miserable day, as you will find a new detail every time you go and visit.

moderatorStaff Writer

Be warned you may well have to queue to see inside this not so secret London gem. But it’s worth it as Sir John Soane’s former home is like walking into a cabinet of curiosities. You can do your best Loyd Grossman impression of “Who lives in a house like this?” as you snoop around the fascinating house filled with antiquities. Designed by Soane’s it reveals the inspiration and eccentricities of the great British architect. It’s a real treat to see Hogarth’s ‘A Rake Progress’, especially as they are displayed on panels that fold out from the wall, unfortunately you’re not allowed to do this yourself but the ever accommodating docents will be happy to oblige. You can easily spend a couple of hours and as the renovations on the rest of the property reveal more of this charming building, it’s worth revisiting because you never know what you might discover.

My favourite London museum, this place is packed with personality and is a truly unique destination in London.

You imbue the history of Georgian era London just walking through these amazing rooms, make sure to ask a member of staff to direct you to the picture room to see A Rake's Progress by Hogarth. A morality tale par excellence.

By appreciating Soane's  possessions and interests you leave with a real sense of the man he was and his practice as an architect. 

Make sure you donate to keep this gem open to the public.

If you can, try and visit on one of the evening openings when the house is lit by candlelight, it's simply magical.

0 of 1 found helpful

One of the worst experience of my life! Long queues that do not move, and the rudest staff I ever encounter! Having working in customer services for more than a decade, I can not see how are their employees allowed to deal the public at all. Only go there if you wanted to stand in the cold for hours and get shout at by their members of staff!!

0 of 1 found helpful

this museum is a dying breed... I had half an hour to kill and wanted to quickly pop round. The very officious and brusque doorwoman forced me to turn off my mobile "we're a museum!" and then tried to get me to decant the entire contents of my bag into a plastic one. No thank you. Treat your visitors with a bit more respect and they'll respect you. Here's hoping the management changes soon; I won't be back before then.

You may also like
    Latest news