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Behind their modest exteriors, London's house museums conjure up bygone eras in the city's history and offer fascinating insights into the lives of their former owners. If you're looking for a more intimate museum experience than that available at the city's national institutions, step this way...
Sir John Soane's Museum
Architect and parliamentarian Sir John Soane built this house between 1792 and 1824 and gradually filled it with an eclectic collection of art, architecture and antiquities. It's been open as a museum ever since and is the sort of place you can visit again and again, getting something new from it each time. It's quietest first thing in the morning but at its most atmospheric on the monthly candle-lit evening openings.
Charles Dickens Museum
A short walk away in Holborn is the house occupied by 19th-century author Charles Dickens between 1837 and 1839. It reopened in 2012 following a major renovation; as well as the addition of a proper giftshop and cafe, this refurbishment allowed the curators to restore the house to its former Victorian glory, as it might have been in Dickens' day. Letters and portraits complete the picture.
Sherlock Holmes Museum
Another great literary figure to have a house museum dedicated to him is Sherlock Holmes. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional detective and his ever patient companion Doctor Watson lived at 221b Baker Street and the team behind this museum have created a shrine to him on very nearly that exact spot (the museum is actually at number 239). Fans of the stories, and of Victoriana in general, will love the intricately styled interiors and waxwork recreations of well loved scenes.