phone mail2 facebook twitter play
Discover London: 18 Stafford Terrace

Discover London: 18 Stafford Terrace

11 October 2016 Stephanie Brandhuber  | Interviews

Tucked away in a quiet corner of Kensington is 18 Stafford House, the former home of acclaimed 'Punch' cartoonist Edward Linley Sambourne. Perfectly preserved and offering a treasure trove of objects on display, this Victorian household is a time capsule of a bygone era. We take a tour around this beautiful house with senior curator Daniel Robbins who tells us a little bit about why this house is one of London’s loveliest hidden gems.

London Calling: Why is this house so unique?
 
Daniel Robbins: Well this was the home of punch cartoonist Edward Linley Sambourne and his family. Very soon after he died, the family seemed to have had the idea that they should try and preserve the home. And so what’s so special about it is that it has really retained an enormous proportion of its original contents. Not only that, but all the family’s papers and diaries also survived, so it’s a house that we can really understand and appreciate as to how it functioned and how the family lived. It’s also interesting because it wasn’t just a typical Victorian home - Sambourne had definite aspirations as a cartoonist to be seen as an artist and to be taken seriously as an artist. So these interiors were definitely created to give the sense of an artist’s house, not just a conventional middle class home.
 
LC: How similar is the house today as it was in Sambourne’s time?
 
DR: The Sambournes’ granddaughter lived here in the 1960s and she did a certain amount of renovation work, but she tried to do it in a very sympathetic way. She did as little as possible to disrupt the original interiors. But the vast majority of the objects and the furnishings that the Sambournes had are all still sitting where they sat in their time.
 
LC: Can you tell me a bit about Sambourne’s studio in the house?
 
DR: For a long time Sambourne didn’t have a room that was really his studio. What he did was work at the end of the drawing room. As an illustrator he wasn’t making a lot of mess and he didn’t need a lot of space, so it was actually quite convenient to be able to work downstairs and still be part of the life of the household rather than being away in a different studio. So it was only when his daughter Maude married and moved out that he got to use the rooms at the top of the house. He converted them from what had originally been the nursery into his studio. He put the shelving in, he re-papered it and then he had his easel here where he would work on his weekly punch cartoon.
 
LC: Can you tell me a little-known fact about the Sambourne family?
 
DR: The Sambournes’ great-great-grandson is the current Lord Linley, the son of Princess Margaret. I think it would have been astonishing to the original Sambourne family to think that their great-grandson would have married the Queen’s sister. That family connection is something that people aren’t usually aware of.
 
LC: There’s so much to see in the house, but is there a particular object that’s usually overlooked by visitors but that’s worth taking time to see?
 
DR: This house is more about the mixing of objects and how they’re all combined and displayed as none of the objects were individually particularly valuable. But something that always fascinates visitors, and you have to look a little closely to see it, is that the Sambournes originally papered all the interiors with William Morris papers, and then as they could afford it, they replaced those papers with embossed and gilded expensive ones. But instead of taking everything down in these rooms and re-papering, they only papered around the objects as a more economic way of doing it. So if you peer behind some of the mirrors and the pictures, you can see the original Morris papers are still there and they were just papered around with this more expensive paper.
 
LC: How funny! It seems strange to do it in that way though.
 
DR: Well, that’s a very typical Sambourne thing to do – he was more interested in the impact of what he was doing than actually doing it properly. And it’s the same in how he amassed all the things in the house. He liked to give the impression that he was buying the very best, but we know that he went to effectively what were junk shops and house clearance sales. In a very kind of magpie way, he was assembling different things that appealed to him and then bringing them all together in the house. It was about the impact rather than having the resources to do it properly.
 
LC: It seems like he was a bit of a hoarder…
 
DR: He was. There’s a wonderful thing in his wife Marion Sambourne’s diary where she reports that a cart has pulled up with more chairs on it and she sort of despairs as to where they’re going to put all these chairs. I think when he was out and about, he was always looking out for things that appealed to him that he could acquire for the house.
 
LC: His poor wife!
 
DR: Indeed!
 

 The house is located at 18 Stafford Terrace, London W8 7BH. Go online for opening times and to arrange a visit. 

Tell us what you think

You may also like

This Week 27 March - 2 April

This Week 27 March - 2 April

The days are getting longer and (very gradually) getting warmer, so it’s time to go outside! Follow along the path of nature to discover Moomins and…

The Best Places to Watch the Boat Race in London

The Best Places to Watch the Boat Race in London

The Boat Race – a contest between two of the Britain’s most elite and exclusive universities in a sport watched approximately twice a year that incomprehensibly…

Deutsche Börse Prize Exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery

Deutsche Börse Prize Exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery

Opening in the Photographers’ Gallery this month is the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize Exhibition. The prodigious award, now in its twentieth edition, celebrates a recent…

Top 5: Mother’s Day Activities for 2017

Top 5: Mother’s Day Activities for 2017

Mother’s Day is the perfect opportunity to let that special person in your life know how much you appreciate them. For all those years of nappy…

Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait

Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait

You might think you know Amy Winehouse. The caricatured, instantly recognisable figure in tiny 1950s style dotted dresses with a colossal beehive of black hair,…

Australia’s Impressionists at The National Gallery

Australia’s Impressionists at The National Gallery

The Australian Impressionists of the late 19th Century attempted to depict a country undergoing huge changes, a nation searching for an identity, a land with…

Top 5 – Alternative Wedding Venues in London

Top 5 – Alternative Wedding Venues in London

Whether you’ve just been popped the question, been the nervous proposer or still dreaming, we’ve done some leg work for you and rounded up some alternative…

A Guide to Crazy Golf in London

A Guide to Crazy Golf in London

Crazy golf is usually imprinted on humans through arduous family contests battled out in overcast seaside towns. But if you want to bring your putting…

Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the Mask, Another Mask

Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the Mask, Another Mask

Collating and comparing the work of two artists from different generations can sometimes feel laborious and ultimately unconvincing, but this certainly isn’t the case for this…

Terrains of the Body: Photography from the National Museum of Women in the Arts at the Whitechapel Gallery

Terrains of the Body: Photography from the National Museum of Women in the Arts at the Whitechapel Gallery

Whitechapel Gallery has teamed up with the National Museum of Women in the Arts to present Terrains of the Body. The photography exhibition explores various…

More inspiration...

‘Being haunted by the past is something I’m creatively turned on by’ - An Interview with Brian J Smith

‘Being haunted by the past is something I’m creatively turned on by’ - An Interview with Brian J Smith

We spoke to Stargate Universe and Sense 8 actor about his latest role in the Glass Menagerie, the roles that most inspire him and the surprising purchase he made with his first acting paycheck.
Free Fire - An Interview with Ben Wheatley

Free Fire - An Interview with Ben Wheatley

Ben Wheatley’s films are sick and twisted in the best way possible. We talk to him about his latest film, Free Fire.
This Week 27 March - 2 April

This Week 27 March - 2 April

We find out what will be keeping you occupied in the capital this week.
The Best Places to Watch the Boat Race in London

The Best Places to Watch the Boat Race in London

Whether you're Oxford, Cambridge or (literally) somewhere in between, find out the best places to watch the Boat Race 2017.
Deutsche Börse Prize Exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery

Deutsche Börse Prize Exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery

This diverse exhibition takes in landscapes, travel diaries and post-modern self-portraits.

Your inbox deserves a little culture!