The front windows on the Entrance Facade
Built / Designed For: Joseph Gordon Davis
House & Family History: Considered the best-preserved Victorian townhouse in the world, 18 Stafford Terrace was the home of Edward Linley Sambourne (1844-1910, a noted cartoonist for "Punch") between 1875 and 1910. Moving in when it was almost new, it was Mr. Sambourne and his family who decorated the house in its upper middle class Aesthetic style, covering every nook and cranny, and almost every inch of wall space, with something! From one of the Aesthetic movement's trademarks, the sunflower, to the stained glass windows and William Morris wallpapers, it was very much a house of its time. In fact, there were probably thousands of such houses throughout Britain; what makes the Linley Sambourne House unique is that it survives, completely and utterly in all its late 19th century glory, its compatriots having been lost to the ravages of time and changing tastes. After Mr. Sambourne's death in 1910, the house went to his wife, Marion, who lived here until her death in 1914, when 18 Stafford Terrace was inherited by their bachelor son Roy, who kept the house exactly as he knew it—a monument to high Victorian taste—until his own death in 1946. It was only when the Linley Sambourne House passed through Roy's sister to her daughter, Anne, Countess of Rosse, that its uniqueness began to be appreciated. In fact, it was here, in February of 1958, that the Victorian Society was founded by Lady Rosse, John Betjeman, Nikolaus Pevsner, Hugh Casson, and others. The Victorian Society was formed specifically so that houses like this (that were then being demolished in great numbers) could be saved. Lady Rosse negotiated the sale of the Linley Sambourne House to the London city government so that it could be preserved as a monument to a way a life that lives today only in the pages of history books. Lady Rosse was the mother of Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon, who married Princess Margaret in 1960; their son, David Linley, is the internationally renowned furniture designer who started the firm of LINLEY.
Title: Merchant Ivory's English Landscape: Rooms, Views, and Anglo-Saxon Attitudes
Author: Pym, John
Year Published: 1995
Publisher: New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
Book Type: Hardback
House Listed: Grade II*
Park Listed: No Park
Past Seat of: Joseph Gordon Davis, 1868-70. Elizabeth Bentley, 1871-73. Edward Linley Sambourne, 1875-1910; Marion Sambourne, 1910-14; Roy Sambourne, 1914-46. Anne, Countess of Rosse, 1960-80.
Current Ownership Type: Government
Primary Current Ownership Use: Visitor Attraction
Ownership Details: Owned and operated by the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea