18 Stafford Terrace

The Drawing Room
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In 1874 Edward Linley Sambourne married Marion Herapath, the daughter of a wealthy stockbroker. Helped by Marion's father, the couple paid £2,000 for an 89-year lease on 18 Stafford Terrace. Classical Italianate in style, Stafford Terrace was built in the 1870s as part of the new developments on the Phillimore Estate. The inhabitants of Stafford Terrace, as listed in the 1871 census, were professional men including retired officers, senior civil servants, tradesmen etc. The arrival of an artist at no.18 Stafford Terrace was a novelty. The young couple decided to furnish their home in the fashionable 'aesthetic' or artistic style of the period. They lived in the house for the next 36 years and, although they made some alterations, the basic decorative scheme remains the same today. Linley Sambourne died in 1910 and his wife in 1914. Their only son Roy inherited the house. Though Roy enjoyed the company of numerous pretty actresses, he never married. He made only minimal changes to his parents' house. When he died in 1946, Roy left everything to his elder sister Maud. She had married Leonard Messel in 1898 and the couple already owned a big house in London and another in the country. Maud did not need 18 Stafford Terrace, but she had a sentimental attachment to her childhood home. She wanted to preserve the house and its contents and persuaded her daughter Anne to use it as a pied à terre during her occasional visits to London from the country. Anne Messel had married Ronald Armstrong-Jones in 1925. (Their son Antony married Princess Margaret in 1960 and was created Earl of Snowdon.) The Armstrong-Jones's were divorced in 1935 and Anne married Michael, sixth Earl of Rosse. Although 18 Stafford Terrace was never her principal residence, it was the setting for numerous parties whenever she came to London. At a Guy Fawkes night party in 1957, Anne proposed founding a Victorian Society to encourage the preservation and appreciation of what was then unfashionable art and architecture. A handful of enthusiasts, including Sir John Betjeman and Nikolaus Pevsner, agreed to support the cause. In 1980 Anne sold the House and its contents to the Greater London Council, and it was agreed that the Victorian Society would run it as a museum. It opened to the public in Autumn 1980. Following the abolition of the Greater London Council, ownership of the house passed to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Venue Type:

Museum, Historic house or home

See also

Opening hours

Admission to 18 Stafford Terrace for the general public is by public tour only on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at the following times:

Wed: conventional tours 11.15 & 14.15
Sat & Sun: Conventional tours, 11.15 & Costumed tours, 13.00, 14.15, 15.30

What is a Conventional Tour?
Led by our expert guides, the informative tours give a memorable insight into the
Sambournes' lives and home. From interior decoration, eccentric possessions, to their day to day activities.

What is a Costumed Tour?
As guests of Mrs. Sambourne or her parlour maid Mrs. Reffles, the actor-led tour
provides a dramatic account of the lives of the inhabitants at 18 Stafford Terrace.
Based on Marion Sambourne's diaries.

Private group tours and schools visits are available Mon-Fri on pre-booking.

18 Stafford closed for housekeeping: mid June - mid September.

Admission charges

Adult: £8.00
Concessions: £6.00
Children (over 5s):£3.00

Private Tour:
£9.50 per person
Minimum of 12 people, maximum of 30 (groups of over 15 will be divided in two)

School Visits:
£180 per class for RBKC funded schools.
£240 per class for non-RBKC funded schools.

A hidden gem in the heart of London, remarkably well-preserved and complete with its original interior decoration and contents.

'We have lived in this house ever since we were married and it has taken years to accumulate whatever treasures we possess. What you see is the very best. That has been my principle throughout; not to buy anything but what was really good.' Edward Linley Sambourne, interviewed in 1893.

Collection details

Archives, Decorative and Applied Art, Fine Art, Personalities, Photography, Social History, Design

Key artists and exhibits

  • Edward Linley Sambourne
  • Roy Sambourne
  • Maud & Leonard Messel
  • Anne Messel
  • Michael, sixth Earl of Rosse
  • Ronald Armstrong-Jones
  • Antony Armstrong-Jones, Earl of Snowdon
  • Princess Margaret
  • Sir John Betjeman
  • Nikolaus Pevsner
  • William Morris & Co
Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.

Behind Closed Doors: 18 Stafford Terrace, A Victorian family home


18 Stafford Terrace was a Victorian family home. You are about to step back in time to the year 1899 where you will embark on a brief tour of 18 Stafford Terrace, London, through the eyes of the servants and the lady of the house. This is the home of the Sambourne Family who lived here from 1875. We hope you enjoy this preview.

You can also read the text transcript of the video here: www.rbkc.gov.uk/linleysambournehouse/video/transcript.asp

Actress as Marion Sambourne talking to school children

School Tours of 18 Stafford Terrace


The costumed tours include an introduction to the house, a guided tour with actresses in the character of either Mrs Sambourne or Mrs Raffles (housekeeper to the Sambourne family) and then a brief closing discussion where they can recap what they learnt and discuss what they liked and did not like about the Victorian way of life.

Suitable for Year 1 to Year 5, the tours lasts approximately 1 hour.

How to obtain

For more information and to book please telephone 020 7602 3316 or email museums@rbkc.gov.uk

£180 per class for RBKC funded schools
£240 per class for non-RBKC funded schools.

Maximum of 30 children per class.
Groups of over 15 will be divided in two and tours run with a few minutes gap between them.

18 Stafford Terrace
Greater London
W8 7BH





020 7602 3316

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.