The Georgian House Museum, Bristol

The Georgian House Museum, Bristol

During a recent weekend trip to Bristol, we found The Georgian House Museum on Great George Street, a quiet street in the centre of the city. With just a small hanging sign to mark its presence, the museum is easy to miss unless you’re looking for it.

Outside The Georgian House Museum, Bristol.
Outside The Georgian House Museum, Bristol.

This Georgian townhouse was built in 1790 for John Pinney, a wealthy slave plantation owner and sugar merchant. The enslaved African, Pero Jones, accompanied Pinney and his family back to Bristol and became Pinney’s personal servant at the house (and now has a bridge in the city named after him). These days the museum provides a short respite from the busy and noisy life of the city, encouraging visitors into the house to see what life used to be like a long time ago.

The hallway in The Georgian House Museum.
The hallway in The Georgian House Museum.

Upon entering we were greeted by a volunteer and handed a detailed information sheet about the house. The museum is spread over 4 floors, so you can see “below stairs” including the kitchen, laundry and housekeeper’s room and “above stairs” (the dining room, Pinney’s study, the drawing-room, library and bedroom) where the Pinneys lived and socialised.

Dining at The Georgian House.
The Breakfast Parlour
The Eating Room - The dining table (dating from 1800 - 1820) is set for dessert with Bristol porcelain plates (c. 1775) and genuine Bristol Blue glass.
The Eating Room – The dining table (dating from 1800 – 1820) is set for dessert with Bristol porcelain plates (c. 1775) and genuine Bristol Blue glass.
The Housekeeper's Room
The Housekeeper’s Room
The Cold Water Plunge Bath
The Cold Water Plunge Bath – an unusual feature in a townhouse. John Pinney found a cold bath every morning to be of “great service” to him.
The Kitchen
The Kitchen
The Laundry
The Laundry

The Laundrey

The Laundry

At the time of our visit, The Georgian House Museum was hosting an exhibition called “Interventions/2: Films by Yoko Ono”. Rather than the exhibition being hosted in one room, each room seemed to have a piece of the exhibition in it, most notably a TV showing a black & white film. The first film I saw was of someone’s bum moving and another film was of a fly squealing and perched on a woman’s breast. People didn’t seem to know where to look as you certainly didn’t want to be caught gawping at the screen. The TVs were out of place in this Georgian house, they were prominently placed and getting in the way of what we were there to see, the Georgian rooms. Not really the kind of exhibition you expect in this type of museum.

My photos aren’t quite as good as I’d like as I was having to look beyond the old televisions to see the house itself.

The Library
The Library
A square piano in the Small Drawing Room.
A square piano in the Small Drawing Room.
The Drawing Room
The Drawing Room
The Main Bedroom with a four-poster bed.
The Main Bedroom with a four-poster bed.
One of the many samplers displayed.
One of the many samplers displayed.

There was, however, quite a touching part of the exhibition which featured a work called “Arising”, addressing the abuse of women. Abuse survivors had written about their experiences and their commentaries were on display. Outside in the back garden, visitors were given the chance to write their personal wishes for peace and tie them to one of the trees in the back garden.

The back garden of The Georgian House Museum.
The back garden of The Georgian House Museum.
"Tell the truth" - A tag hanging on one of the trees in the back garden.
“Tell the truth” – A tag hanging on one of the trees in the back garden.

Overall, we had an enjoyable visit, but we just found that the exhibition got in the way. I’d like to visit again to see the house in all its glory.

The Georgian House Museum is free to enter, but is now closed for the winter season. It reopens in April.

21 comments

  1. Kelly says:

    This looks like a very interesting home/museum to visit. Lovely sampler! I went through a phase where I stitched samplers for several of my family members.

    The Yoko Ono exhibit sounds odd (and out of place), but I’ve always found her to be a bit odd, as well. Was the back garden bit part of her exhibit?

  2. Lauren says:

    This looks like such a great experience! That’s great it is free to explore as well! Can make it great for learning about the house! Thank you for sharing xx

  3. LL Cool Joe says:

    I agree with Kelly, I’ve always found Yoko Ono a little odd too. She seems to spend her life trying to get her kit off. 😀

    That cold water plunge bath does not seem very appealing at all!

  4. Jo says:

    What a wonderful house, you could definitely do without that exhibition being staged there though. I always find below stairs more appealing when looking round these type of museums, I wonder what that says about me.

  5. jeanie says:

    What a gorgeous home! I would love to tour this one. Maybe this fall! I agree — the TV would be disconcerting. Seems like the wrong venue for that exhibit even if very worthy elsewhere. The thing I like about this place is that it looks like someone could actually live there; it’s approachable. More formal than I am (most are!) but still, something one could adapt to. Thanks for this! (And for your visit to Marmelade Gypsy, too!)

  6. What a wonderful museum to visit and explore plus it’s free which is great. It’s too bad about Yoko’s film being played as you were touring the house, it seems out of place. Don’t think I would want to start my day with a cold bath. Thanks so much for sharing your tour, I enjoyed it.
    Have a wonderful day.

  7. Oooo I’ve never been here. Been to Bristol a few times but not recently, so I’ll have to add this to the list whenever I go back there for a day trip. You may not be too impressed with your photos but I am, I think you did really well. It surprisingly difficult to capture a room but you’ve done it brilliantly. This place looks amazing.xx

  8. Hi Nikki,

    We only live 20 or so miles away from Bristol, but I have to admit that we seldom go there these days. Big city life just doesn’t have the same appeal as it once did and we have plenty of exploring still to do in Bath, which is just down the road from us, is much more compact and not quite so daunting!

    I do like the way that this particular Georgian House has been fitted out and opened up as a living museum, even better that it is free to look around, which is how many such buildings should be.

    Many historic house also don’t like guests taking photos, so to be able to get the quality shots you have, is pretty amazing.

    I hope this was only a small part of an enjoyable visit for you 🙂

    Yvonne
    xx

  9. Nancy says:

    I love historic places in Bristol! Wow, the home was built centuries ago and is still standing pretty well. The bath looks very interesting.. Makes me think how people clean themselves back then. Thanks for sharing this experience!

    Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.