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Gunnersbury’s museum is full of local stories. We trace the development of this part of west London and explore the rich and varied heritage of the people who have chosen to live and work here.
The building itself has a colourful past to discover, too. Before it became a museum in 1929, the mansion was home to the Rothschild family. Here they hosted the most influential aristocrats, politicians and businessmen of the time.
People and place
The museum’s collections feature stories from prominent local people, both from history and the modern day. Together, they illustrate the diversity of the ‘villages’ that make up Hounslow and Ealing. They also demonstrate some of the changes that have happened locally and in society as a whole.
Explore the galleries and discover the lives of local people. Discover the changes in how people make a living, spend their leisure time and dress for special occasions. See how homelife and childhood has evolved. It is everyday life that has, over time, shaped the character of the area we know today.
And the story isn’t yet finished – why not add your own memories to our collections. Throughout the galleries there are opportunities to share your experiences.
Many items on display are famous beyond the borough boundaries. The iconic ‘Lucozade’ sign that used to welcome drivers to London on the M4 is fondly remembered by many, as are the Ealing Studio films from the 1950s. Then there’s the ground-breaking Stanhope printing press that helped make the mass distribution of newspapers possible. Ours, dated 1804 and used by the local Chiswick Press, is the earliest known surviving example.
The Rothschild Rooms
This grand suite of rooms was commissioned when the Rothschild family bought the mansion in the 1830s. The fine plasterwork, stunning fireplaces and breathtaking chandeliers of the drawing room, long gallery and dining room give an insight into the luxurious life the family enjoyed at Gunnersbury. In these rooms they hosted political meetings, elaborate dinners and even a wedding. Music and dramatic projections help bring to life what it might have been like to be a guest at one of these parties.
Head to what was the butler’s pantry and discover a different world below stairs as the butler describes what happened during a grand dinner. Then explore the rest of the servants’ quarters, a network of pantries, sculleries, kitchens and even a butchery where an army of servants created impressive feasts. Please note that the historic kitchens are open Thursday – Sunday as they are used for pre-booked learning groups on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Good to know
We hire the Rothschild rooms for private events and host school visits in the historic kitchens. This means they can sometimes be closed to other visitors. If you are making a special trip, please call us on 0203 9610280 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to check our opening arrangements. For the historic kitchens, it is best to visit us Thursday – Sunday.