Quirky historic house tucked away in the City with 18th-century interiors & a healthy supply of dictionaries. Once home to Dr Johnson & his pet cat, Hodge.
We are sorry to announce that we have had to postpone reopening the House, due to the recent government announcements. Thank you to everybody who has supported us over the past few months, we can't wait to see you again!
We will update you on our plans as soon as is possible and look forward to welcoming you back to Gough Square.
This collection of miniatures, featuring Francis Barber in the centre, was purchased by the House in 1996. It is unclear who the other sitters are, but David Garrick, Reverend Mudge, Richard Sheridan, and Anna Williams have been suggested. Can you spot any familiar faces? #BlackHistoryMonth
Featured in Boswell's 'Life of Johnson' are the details of both men's legal support for Joseph Knight, originally from West Africa, who went to court (and won) against his former master John Wedderburn in 1774. His case was to fight against being taken from Scotland to Jamaica to be sold as a slave.
It is thought he first pursued his claim because of reading about a similar trial called the Somerset Case in 1772, which set a legal precedent for blocking anyone being forcibly removed from the country for the purpose of being sold. #BlackHistoryMonth
The original sale catalogue from the sale of Johnson's library, the proceeds of which formed the trust fund for his servant and heir Francis Barber. This copy was owned by James Oglethorpe and the print pictured shows him reading the catalogue. #BlackHistoryMonthUK
We loved seeing this coloured film of 1920s London! Not strictly Dr Johnson’s London but the view of Fleet Street and surrounding areas our first visitors would have seen when the House opened to the public.
A wonderful AI enhanced and colourized film about old London a century ago. Film duration is 10 minutes. All the famous points of interest come into focus in...
The engrossment of Johnson's will hangs in the House and here you can see his instructions to leave Francis Barber an annuity of £70 - roughly £10,000 in today's money.
It was common to leave a small amount to a servant, but this was an uncommonly generous sum to bequeath, strengthening the argument that Johnson considered Barber to be a member of his family rather than simply a servant. #BlackHistoryMonth
Continuing with our Black History posts: Tetty Johnson (pictured) was the reason Francis Barber ended up at 17 Gough Square, to help Johnson during a period of depression following the death of his wife. He was just ten years old when he was sent to live with Samuel Johnson, by Richard Bathurst - a friend of Johnson and former plantation owner in Jamaica. Barber was born into slavery on this plantation and brought over to England when he was around eight years old. Johnson however, was strongly against slavery and did not view Barber as a slave from the moment he was under his care. #blackhistorymonth
The House has a reproduction of Tetty’s portrait on display but the original is in Houghton Library, Harvard.
Throughout October we'll be sharing stories and collection objects from the House as part of #BlackHistoryMonth - To get started, here is our portrait of Francis Barber (or widely thought to be/attributed to him) who was a servant, friend and eventual heir of Samuel Johnson, and who lived with the writer for over 30 years until his death in 1784. We will be telling you lots about Barber's story through the month, so come back for more soon.
We are very pleased to announce that Dr Johnson's House will be reopening on Friday 6 November!
We're taking timed bookings for Fridays and Saturdays and you can find out all the details and book your visit here: http://www.drjohnsonshouse.org/visit.html
If you can't visit the House in person, we're also very excited to tell you that we can now offer virtual tours of the House, led by the Curator. You can find out more and book on our group bookings page: http://www.drjohnsonshouse.org/groups.html
The latest on our blog covers the Reading Circle's performance of part one of Wild Oats - where they meet Farmer Gammon, Harry Thunder and the star of the show, Ephraim Smooth in John O'keeffe's 1791 comedy:
By Adam StevensonDirected from an ironing board in Ealing, the Dr Johnson’s Reading Circle Players presented John O’Keeffe’s 1791 comedy, Wild Oats. John O’Keefe by Lawranson Pre-warned that …
Happy Birthday Dr Johnson!
On this day in 1709, Samuel Johnson was born in Lichfield. The son of a book seller, he went on to become the second most quoted English writer in the world.
Johnson also championed women’s education and female writers, supported the abolition of slavery and was well known for his generosity and unique understanding of the human condition.
Dr Johnson’s House is currently closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
We are working hard to reopen as soon as possible but since March we have lost almost all of our income which is hitting hard and will continue to impact us in the months ahead.
We would be very grateful for any support you would like to give us during this time. Find out more and donate:
Dr Johnson#39;s House - Supporting the House
Last year Unity Arts joined us for the culmination of their week of art and heritage workshops, called Hackney Dissent. The organisation is a not for profit community association who open up theatre, arts, heritage and training access to those often excluded from such resources.
You can see some of their amazing spoken word artists here performing at Dr Johnson's House: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFoRxMDTM60
Filmed at Dr Johnson's House off Fleet Street, by Edwin Louis Fear Films (edited by Neil Webster) and the Digital Outputs Team led by James Warren of Meddle ...
Don't forget to say hello to Hodge when you're back in the square - he'll be there to welcome everyone back to the House.
Hello there, we've missed you all! We're FINALLY back in the House, working on reopening as soon as we can safely do so. Hope to see you soon, but we'll keep you up to date with our plans as and when they're made.
From the collection today: Hannah More - born near Bristol in 1745, More first met Johnson on one of her annual trips to London. She was a playwright, Bluestocking Society member, opened schools for poorer children to learn to read, and was a key figure in the abolition movement.
Our beautiful library has over 2000 books, amassed since the House first opened in 1912. We love any excuse to spend an afternoon browsing through them...
Our own shelves look a little different but at least we can read ours with a cuppa! What's your current read?
If you're in need of seeing a little countryside today, here is the beautiful Brynbella, built by Hester Piozzi (previously Thrale) and her husband Gabriel Piozzi in Denbighshire, at the site of her family's ancestral home.
In honour of World Theatre Day, here is our print of Hannah Pritchard and David Garrick - two celebrities of the 18th century stage - as Lord and Lady Macbeth. Garrick was a friend and former student of Johnson, whilst Pritchard took the lead role in Johnson's play, Irene.
Three months after Johnson's death, almost all of his library was auctioned off, in line with his wishes, by James Christie. This is one of the original sale catalogues, from the day, first used by General James Oglethorpe, who is depicted in this print at the sale.
Morning all, thought you might like to see Johnson's very own #WFH space, the Garret where he worked on the 1755 dictionary, among the numerous other works he published during his 11 years living at Gough Square.
We hope you're all doing ok today. We've of course been getting through the day with lots of cups of tea, sadly not from Hester Thrale's beautiful Meissen teapot here, but still...tea always helps 😊☕️ #museumsfromhome
Dr Johnson’s House will be closing to the public from Wednesday 18 March 2020 until further notice.
Unfortunately we have decided to temporarily close the House from Wednesday 18th March until further notice following Public Health England and Government advice on COVID-19. The safety and well-being of our visitors, staff and volunteers has always been our number one priority. We will monitor developments closely and
re-open as soon as it is viable to do so. We will continue to share aspects of our collection and Johnson’s story via social media.
'The chief glory of every people arises from its authors' Samuel Johnson, 1755. Taken from the Preface to the Dictionary of the English Language. #WorldBookDay2020
Word of the day: RHABA'RBARATE. adj. [from rhabarbara, Lat.] Impregnated or tinctured with rhubarb.
Word of the day: To CONFA’BULATE. v.n. [confa-bulo-, lat.]
To talk easily or carelessly together; to chat; to prattle.
Word of the day: TERRI’FICK. Adj. [terrificus, Latin]
Dreadful; causing terrour
‘The serpent, subtlest beast of all the field,
Of huge extent sometimes, with brazen eyes,
And hairy mane terrifick.
MILTON’S PARADISE LOST, B. VII
Word of the day: REFOCILLA’TION. n.s. [refocillo, Lat.]
Restoration of strength by refreshment.
Word of the day: QUI’BBLER. n.s. [from quibble]
Word of the day: PA’RAMOUR. n.s. [par and amour, Fr]
A lover or a woer.
‘Upon the floor
A lovely bevy of fair ladies sat,
Courted by many a jolly paramour-‘ FAIRY QUEEN
Word of the day: OUTVI’E. v.a. [out and vie]
To exceed; to surpass.
‘for folded flocks on fruitful plains,
Fair Britain all the world outvies.’ DRYDEN
Word of the day: NI’NNYHAMMER. n.s. [from ninny]
‘Another vents her passion in scurrilous terms; an old ninny-hammer. A dotard, a nincompoop, is the best language she can afford me.’ ADDISON’S GUARDIAN, NO.109.
Word of the day: MU’CKENDER. n.s. [mouchoir, French; macadero, Spanish.]
‘For thy full fancy a muckender is fit,
To wipe the slabberings of thy snotty wit.’ DORSET
17 Gough Square
Tube: Chancery Lane/Holborn (Central Line) Temple (District Line/Circle Lines) *Please note that Blackfriars tube station is currently closed. Rail: City Thameslink, Blackfriars and Farringdon stations are all nearby. Bus: All routes to Aldwych, Chancery Lane, Fleet Street or St. Paul's. Bus numbers 4, 11, 15, 23, 26, 76 and 172 run along Fleet Street. Please check www.tfl.gov.uk to plan your journey.
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