Hidden historic houses team up in six-star London alliance

By Culture24 Staff | 11 November 2009
  • Archived article
A picture of people at a ceremony inside a room

When six hidden London houses with secretly huge historic connections unite, it could only really take place under a cloud of mystery.

Until the middle of last week, few knew the identity of the sextet from the shadows – the Freud and Handel House Museums, Dr Johnson's, Kelmscott and Benjamin Franklin Houses and launch hosts Burgh House and Hampstead Museum.

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Dan Cruickshank gave an impassioned address at the official launch of the group on Tuesday (November 10 2009)

They've united under the hush-hush banner of London Shh…, joining forces to "recession proof" their finances and pool often-tiny budgets and staff teams into a collectively stronger proposition.

A picture of a man giving a speech

The alliance has been formed to "recession proof" each member

The usual Mayoral teams were present and correct to hear a rousing speech by outspoken architectural historian Dan Cruickshank in support of the group emancipation.

Burgh General Manager Kate Streeter outlined the challenges facing these small, independent buildings, explaining the compelling stories behind the ancient doors.

A picture of a tall brick building on a city street

Benjamin Franklin lived at the House named after him between 1757-62 and 1764-75

Eschewing palatial comforts, Handel lived at 25 Brook Street for 36 years before his death in 1759, and Benjamin Franklin House, a modest Georgian building obscured by Trafalgar Square, was the unlikely home of the American Founding Father.

The concept is hardly a new one for the gang of respective organisers – the group actually formed in 2008, and craft workshops and fairs are already planned at William Morris's Kelmscott House in Hammersmith, as well as literary and psychoanalytic talks and contemporary art exhibitions at the Freud Museum in Hampstead.

A picture of a tall brick building above a shop on a busy city street

Handel House Museum. © Andreas Praefcke (2002)

A Grand Tour and late-night openings are among the plans for next year, and a new website for the collective has gone live.

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