Skip to content
Closed on Mondays

A parlour in 1790

As a room for entertaining this room would have been kept spotless, light and bright to impress guests. Activity in the room was set by strict social guidelines around propriety and decency.

Wallpapered room with green card table and chairs set up for a game of cards, fireplace in background Photograph by Em Fitzgerald

What's happening

It is early in the evening and the family who live here are entertaining some relatives who also live in London, and a close family friend.

Everyone is full from dinner, which was served at about 5pm, and they have settled down to play cards. If they are peckish later, they may take tea and have some supper.

Earlier in the day the mistress of the house went shopping in Carnaby Market in Soho, London, to buy fruit and vegetables, fish, and poultry for dinner.

She is in charge of the day-to-day management of the household spending and when she returned she logged her spending in her daily accounts book.

Objects to look out for

Wooden folding table Object number L 844

Table, 1780s

Tables were lightweight so they could be kept folded away and brought out as needed. The central table was used for playing card games like whist and cribbage, a fashionable choice for hosts planning party games.

Large mirror in gold frame

Mirror, c.1790

Mirrors became more widely available in the 1700s and were useful for reflecting light from candles within a room.

Blue glass bottle with stopper Object number 5/2009-2

Decanter, c.1790

It is very rare to find blue glass from this era. The date of around 1790 is based on the shape, which was produced for around 10 to 15 years.