The Geffrye Museum: From Almshouse to Museum of the Middle Classes.

A while ago I visited The Geffrye Museum in London. Hoxton, if you want to be precise. Let’s face it, London is a big place so precision is probably best when describing where something is. Usually when I visit a museum I like to write about it sooner rather than later, lest memories fade and impressions grow fuzzy. I’m only really writing this post now because I stumbled across some pictures that I want to share with everyone.

The Geffrye Museum
The Geffrye Museum

So: why the delay?

The clue is really in the title of this post. I felt uneasy about the history of the poor and the workers being swept away by gentrification. This was made worse when a national newspaper reported that the Director of the museum had openly said that he “had no interest in the culture of the labouring classes” which he has since denied.

I thought it best to delay the writing because even though this black cloud hangs above it, the museum does do good work, and is usually on the long list for the Kids in Museum’s Family Friendly Museum Award and the stuff on display really is worth sharing. Really, it is very pretty.

Custard cups from 1780s-1790s
Custard cups from 1780s-1790s

Let’s get started with a new acquisition the museum was displaying- these charming custard cups.

Shaped like artichokes, these pots are very pretty. Little individual pots for custard, so quaint and such an odd idea.

Custard, like it’s savory cousin gravy, is meant to be smothered over everything in epic proportions? Non?

I can’t be the only one who enjoys a dessert drowning in custard?

Let’s move on.

It seems that at the moment I can’t seem to escape an oddly recurring theme in my adventures anthropomorphised animals. Now, not only is there the weirdly wonderful work of Walter Potter but also this refined bird lady.

Anthropomorphised animal


She seems to be having trouble with her parasol. Bless.

If you’re interested in exploring the Almshouse history of the Geffrye, a restored version of the almshouse is open on certain days. Personally I think this should be more incorporated into the story the museum tells rather than the middle class narrative currently on offer. Where else will you see something like this?

Who are the middle classes?
Who are the middle classes?


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