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The Drawing Rooms Of Old London

November 30, 2022
by the gentle author

In celebration of Small Business Saturday, I am hosting the new EAST END TRADES GUILD TOUR OF SPITALFIELDS this Saturday 3rd December at noon, telling the stories of the different local shops and their origins in this traditional heartland for small traders. An EETG cloth bag, a copy of Rob Ryan’s map, and small gifts from guild members are included in the ticket, along with refreshments served by a member of the guild at the end of the tour.




Impending gloom at the Mansion House, c. 1910

Given the increasing volatility of meteorological conditions as we head into another long winter in the northern hemisphere, I think the only prudent course of action is to withdraw into one of the drawing rooms of old London. Once the last meagre ray of November sunlight has filtered through the lace curtains, highlighting the dust upon the armoire, pull the brocade drapes close and bank up the fire with sea-coal. Stretch out upon the chaise langue, I shall take the sofa and my cat will settle in the fauteuil.

These glass slides once used for magic lantern shows by the London & Middlesex Archaeological Society at the Bishopsgate Institute reveal glimpses into the lavish drawing rooms occupied by those at the pinnacle of power in old London, and I can only wonder what the East Enders of a century ago thought when exposed to these strange visions of another world.

State Room Chelsea Royal Hospital, c. 1920

Drawing Room at Lindsay House, Chelsea, former home of the Moravians, 1912

Hall at Fulham Palace, c. 1920

White Drawing Room, Buckingham Palace, c. 1910

Dining Room at Buckingham Palace, c. 1910

Christians’ Sitting Room, Buckingham Palace, c. 1910

Prince Consort’s Writing Room, Buckingham Palace, c. 1910

Throne Room at St James’ Palace, c.1910

Prince Consort’s Music Room, Buckingham Palace, c. 1910

Prince Consort’s Tapestry Room, Buckingham Palace, c. 1910

Empress Eugiene’s Room, Buckingham Palace, c. 1910

Bow Saloon, Buckingham Palace, c. 1910

Prince Consort’s Writing Room, Buckingham Palace, c. 1910

Prince Consort’s Music Room, Buckingham Palace, c. 1910

Queen Victoria’s Dolls’ House, Kensington Palace, c. 1910

Holland House, c. 1910

Lord Mayor’s Room, Mansion House, c.1910

Drawing Room, Goldsmiths Hall, c. 1920

Drawing Room, Armourers’ Hall, c. 1920

Small Hall at Cordwainers’ Hall, 1920

Drawing Room, Goldsmiths’ Hall, 1920

Drawing Room, Salters’ Hall, c. 1910

Drawing Room, Mercers’ Hall,  1920

Drawing Room, Devonshire House, c. 1910

Ballroom  at Devonshire House, c. 1910

Drawing Room, Whitehall Gardens, 1913

Prince Consort’s Dressing Room, Buckingham Palace, c. 1910

Belgian Suite Bedroom, Buckingham Palace, c. 1910

Prince Consort’s Study, Buckingham Palace, c. 1910

Bow Saloon, Buckingham Palace, c. 1910

Throne Room, Buckingham Palace, c. 1910

Vestry of St Lawrence Jewry, c. 1920


Glass slides copyright © Bishopsgate Institute

You may also like to take a look at

The Nights of Old London

The Ghosts of Old London

The Dogs of Old London

The Signs of Old London

The Markets of Old London

The Pubs of Old London

The Doors of Old London

The Staircases of Old London

The High Days & Holidays of Old London

The Dinners of Old London

The Shops of Old London

The Streets of Old London

The Fogs & Smogs of Old London

7 Responses leave one →
  1. Andy permalink
    November 30, 2022

    I look at the pictures and I can almost hear my Mum’s voice saying, “How the other half live.”.
    May she rest in peace after a hard life.

  2. Bernie permalink
    November 30, 2022

    Super overstuffed! Ugh!

  3. Pence permalink
    November 30, 2022

    Glad I don’t have to dust any of those rooms. The clutter!

  4. Pence permalink
    November 30, 2022

    Though the sofa or the chaise and the fire and cat sound tempting.

  5. November 30, 2022

    What a cacophony of furnishings! However, I smiled from ear to ear over the Queen’s dollhouse.
    Unlike the other interiors, it looked so well-loved and “lived in”. Thanks for including the dollhouse amongst all the other rooms. It added humor and humanity, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the wee dolls with “almost as large” tea pots and creamers.

  6. Carolyn Hooper permalink
    December 1, 2022

    Amazing…… As I viewed each photo I thought “Oh, I’ve walked so lightly upon this earth in comparison!!” And soon I could only say to myself “Do you really believe you have too much clutter?”

    Imagine how many pieces could be sold to help some very needy folk – and not a soul would know they had been removed. Shock, horror! “Oh, but Pappa…..I do miss that desk in that room and yet, I do understand I have a little too much.”

    Sorry……just had to be a little honest.

  7. Bertrand permalink
    December 1, 2022

    And to think, literally a couple of miles down the road from where these photos were taken, hundreds of thousands of malnourished souls lived necessarily violent lives of squalor. Stunted in ambition, stature and life expectancy, they aimed for nothing higher than the temporary reprieve of drunkenness, if they were lucky enough to live that long. To me, these rooms are as aesthetically hideous as the misery upon which they’re built.

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