18 Stafford House

18 Stafford House, previously known as Linley Sambourne House) is a late Victorian family home and artist’s workplace that has, come down to us virtually unchanged.

The house gives an insight into the personal lives of the Sambourne family, and also provides a rare example of what was known as an 'Aesthetic interior' or 'House Beautiful' style.

 

My tour of the most amazing interiors in Britain Victorian house,  tucked away in residential Kensington…

 

`Comfortable and cluttered’

Visiting the house today, I entered through the basement, where I  watched an introductory video presentation before climbing to the entrance hall – and there, straight away, I saw the aesthetically aware world of Linley Sambourne  from up ceiling to down on the floor covered in William Morris patterns and wallpapers. The interior rooms have that wonderful Victorian clutter, with seemingly every spare inch filled with art or personal objects. 

The Aesthetic Movement of the late nineteenth century advocated the use of foreign or 'exotic' influences in the decoration of the home. This was evident by the various Japanese, Middle-Eastern and Chinese objects throughout the ' home.

 

I can recall in my memory the narrow tiled hallway is replete with mirrors and walking-sticks, the walls, all the way up the stairs, lined with close-hung prints, cartoons and photographs. A pretty stained-glass window in the garden door lightens the rather gloomy space only with natural light coming through the windows. One of the highlights is the Drawing Room, which occupies the entire first floor. at one end of the room is an easel and camera showing where Sambourne worked before he created a studio on the top floor.

One unexpected response that this house made me realize is of nostalgia and daydreaming. I found it a delightful peek into the past. Other reason for my visit was to have a real site seeing focusing on the William Morris wallpaper throughout the house. the walls  of the house is originally papered with Morris & Co handmade papers, until in the mid-1880s that was replaced with the same Morris papers by the new generation of the family. This stuff was so expensive that it was only applied  where it would be visible, leaving the original Morris paper behind the framed pictures hanging on the wall – but it can still be seen in one or two places.