Things To Do in Barnes, Battersea, Cheam, Clapham, Epsom, Fulham, Kingston, Putney, Surbiton, Sutton, Wandsworth, Wimbledon

19th-Century Clapham

Over the last 400 years, English homes and gardens have undergone many shifting trends in decor and style. Clapham, with its picturesque streets of neatly uniform, affluent Georgian and Victorian terraces, built throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, has entertained them all. In a fascinating insight into interior design history, the Geffrye Museum has created a replica 1830s Clapham ‘drawing room’, available to view in person or through an online tour.

Modelled on an original Clapham home, the grandiose Regency-style drawing room (above and left) was typically used by the burgeoning middle-class to host guests, either in the morning or afternoon, for light refreshments and conversation. Members of the family would also gather there for activities such as reading, playing games, sketching and playing musical instruments. In the evening, lit by candles and firelight, the drawing room would be used to receive and entertain guests, before and after dinner. As a way to express personal culture and identity, design and decor became an important tool to showcase the changing values of the middle-class.

This drawing room would have been located on the first floor, at the front of the house. Impressive floor-to-ceiling windows hung with elaborate drapery would have been the feature point of the room, typically leading out onto a small balcony with iron railings.

Flat walls replace Georgian panelling in favour of wallpaper or paint, and the decorative carpet – previously an unaffordable luxury – replicates a Regency design. A typical drawing room was usually furnished with a large, circular centre table in ebony or rosewood, with smaller tables for writing, sewing, playing board games and sketching. The overall effect of the furnishings is extremely decorative, with details like scrolling arms and curved sable legs emanating elegance.

To complete the look, a number of ornaments and pictures scattered about the room reflect Britain’s growing interest in consumer goods, travel and international trading.

To explore the virtual tour for yourself, visit:

If you’d like to see the replica room in person, take a trip across town to the Geffrye Museum of the Home in Hoxton.

Geffrye MuseumGeffrye Museum