Culture Corner

The Leighton House Museum at dusk.

‘Leighton House’ (c) 2006 paranoidnotandroid. Used under a Creative Commons license. (

One of the things I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned is that I am a bit of a history buff. I just love reading about ancient times, peoples, civilisations and customs…brilliant stuff! My colleagues will tell you about the numerous times I’ve spent a less busy afternoon behind the desk at my Kensington hotel browsing or reading about some historical era or event.

This passion, of course, extends to my free time as well, and in that regard two of my favourite places to be are the Victorian houses that have been converted into museums, located right here in our borough of Kensington and Chelsea – specifically, near Holland Park. Both are within walking distance of my Kensington hotel, and well worth a visit – in fact, I can’t decide which one I like best.

The first of these is located at 18 Stafford Terrace, and it was the family home of the Sambournes, a family of nobles (we used to have a lot of those around these parts a few centuries ago!) The home has been preserved exactly the way it would have been in Victorian times, and it really is a surprise to step through the door of that unassuming little building – no different from those around it – and discover that you have gone a couple of centuries back in time. This house is closed to the public from June to September, but if you happen to find yourself staying at a Kensington hotel at any other time of year, do not miss the opportunity to visit!

The second home I often find myself drawn to is the Leighton House Museum. This used to be the home and private studio of a local artist and aristocrat (evidently), Frederic Leighton, so it is unsurprising that most of its content is artwork by him. Aside from admiring his paintings, however, visitors can also traipse through what is also a very well-preserved and rather charming Victorian house. There is a cover charge, but it is negligible, and I do consider this small but appealing museum well worth a visit. Besides, the Holland Park area is lovely, so any excuse to go up there is a good one!