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A parlour in 1695

After the devastation of the Great Fire of London in 1666, thousands of new homes were built. The parlour was an important space for entertaining and was where the family displayed their wealth and status through their furnishings.

Room setting with wooden table and chairs, floor-standing clock and green curtains Photograph by Em Fitzgerald

What's happening

It is evening and the family have been joined by their friends for a light supper of cold meats and bread.

The table has been cleared by the servants ready for the group to play games and later listen to their son play the flute.

Once the servants have finished their tasks, they will join the family around the fire to listen to the music.

The family are proud to host their guests in their smart new room – their house is typical of those built to replace the thousands that were destroyed in the Great Fire of London a few years before.

Objects to look out for

A white cup with three handles, decorated with blue and yellow flowers Object number 185/2015

Posset pot, 1695

Posset is a hot milky and spiced alcoholic drink, which was thought to have medicinal benefits, due to the stimulating effects of the spices and alcohol.

It was often served from posset pots at special occasions, which were passed around from guest to guest.

Wooden chair with woven back and base Object number 45/2006-1

Cane chair, about 1685

Cane chairs were affordable, stylish and lightweight.

They could be easily moved around the room as needed and were often placed at the side of the room when not in use.

They were the most common chair in middle-class homes from the 1690s to the 1720s.

Historic illustration of an elephant Object number 39/1994-12

Elephant, John Dunstall, about 1675

This print was drawn from a live elephant that was brought to London in 1675. The public would have been fascinated by this strange animal from a distant land.