As you know, we are in London, England. Known for its incredibly hot weather, desert-like climate and dearth of human life. Imagine our surprise when a downpour came! It felt like heaven was taking a piss on us, literally. Many of our fellow travelers were truly bewildered at this unusual turn of events. Some were prepared – we were not, physically, spiritual or mentally.
So in short, we forgot our rain gear the one time it rained. Typical.
Mother and I ended up heading out to a small house museum in this onslaught. I would like to give a shout-out to Brandon for recommending the Rivers of London books to me! We ended up on the Circle line at the Kensington High Street Station to get to the museum. You can tell it’s an older station because it is mostly outdoors. When they started making the tube they couldn’t put it underground without suffocating people with smoke. Hence the older lines and stations are actually outside to let the smoke vent. I recently learned this from one of the sequels to Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch. 10/10 Liberte recommended. 👍
So, I’m sure you are all on the edge of your seats to find out which Museum I went to next! Drumroll please…..
The Leighton House Museum
This museum combines quite a few of my loves so it was a must see for Mum and I. Sir Fredrick Leighton, for whom the house was built, was a Victorian artist, world traveller, collector of tiles from the Islamic world and president of the Royal Academy (basically the famous english art bro’s club).
Sadly, we were not allowed to take any photos! Blergh.
Find the website here
Instead, I will recount in excruciating detail everything that we saw:
Psych! That’ll take way too long.
The museum was beautiful. On the ground floor, Leighton created something called the Arab Hall. It’s a room set up to look like a orientalist’s fantasy of where Odalisques would hang. Though the pieces are all original, or made to match tiles from the Islamic world. It’s a hodgepodge of pieces from Syria, Egypt, Spain, Iran and other locations. The overall effect is stunning. I just wanted to sit in there forever. But there were no chairs. Actually they put pinecones on items we weren’t allowed to sit on. Clever!
The museum is his house and visitors can walk through the space and look at the handy guides for each room that point out various objects of interest. The whole museum underwent a restoration in 2010 and it really shows. The objects are all top quality and some are original.
Mum and I were a bit disappointed at the lack of biographical info. There was such a focus on the objects I didn’t learn much about the man himself other than he travelled. To be fair we did not partake of a guided tour that happens three times a day. Perhaps they were more illuminating.
We both wanted more about him, his art, his collecting, his family and the work done with the Iznik tiles.
Pros: Beautiful and peaceful
Cons: Not much of anything besides pretty objects
On a better note, Mum and I grabbed lunch at a fun place. It was awesome and superbly decorated. I mean look at the size of that fish!