New Name for Shoreditch’s Illustrious Museum
The Geffyre Museum, a transformed 18th century almshouse, has been renamed the ‘Museum of the Home’. The name is testament to the museum’s mission: to explore the concept of home and how it has evolved over the last 400 years.
The interactive home galleries tell the stories of people from different walks of life, who came to live in the area. For example, Mrs SA from Bangladesh, who faced the challenge of integrating into a new culture whilst preserving her own and how this fusion is reflected by the décor and objects in her new home in the UK. Then there are the charming and touching letters from Thomas Adams who came to Shoreditch in 1759 from the North of England and wrote to his mother Elizabeth about his family back home.
The museum displays many gorgeous objects and items of furniture. The Japanese-style tea service from 1876 is ornately beautiful, adorned with bamboo stalks, fans and scrolls. This type of tea service reflects the fashion and tastes in homes of the time. A must-see too is the Isokon furniture from 1930-1940. It’s made from bent plywood – a revolutionary new material at the time, which was used to create dynamic and futuristic pieces.
The highlight is the museum’s famous ‘Rooms through time’. Based on real London homes owned by the middle-class, each room is presented painstakingly with amazing attention to detail. The 1970’s front room, curated by Michael McMillan, is typical of that lived in by African-Caribbean families in the mid-20th century. The room is complete with radiogram from the 1950’s on which you can play vinyl records while reaching for a Baby Cham or white rum from the in-built drinks compartment. On display are intricate crochet doilies – made at the time by many Caribbean women to supplement their income.
The parlour in 1695 shows an almost alien concept of home to many of us. In the room, you will notice the posset pot from 1695. Posset was a hot milky and spiced alcoholic drink thought to have had medicinal benefits. The pot was passed around, hence its two large handles. It’s a colourful and stunning object. The elephant, a drawing by John Dunstall in 1675, is fascinating. It’s a study of a real live elephant which had been brought to London. One can only imagine what an awe-inspiring sight this exotic animal was to Londoners at the time.
On Saturday 12th March, a giant Yard Sale will be taking place in the museum’s Kingsland Road Gardens (10-4pm). The sale will feature what is described on the website as an ‘eclectic mix of attic clearout gems’. Many pieces on sale are courtesy of contemporary Hackney-based designers, and the funds raised will go to helping women and children in vulnerable and dangerous conditions across the capital.
So make sure you head to this remarkable museum, one of Shoreditch’s prized assets.
136 Kingsland Rd, London E2 8EA