20, Maresfield Gardens NW3 : The Freud Museum
Today I visited The Freud House Museum just up the road from where I am staying in Belsize Park. It has limited opening hours and days so I haven’t managed to get there before. If you show your National Trust Card you get half price admission and if you are, like me, over 60, it is only £2.25 as opposed to the full £6.
Anna Freud and her father Sigmund Freud lived here
I thought £2.25 was enough to pay, really. There are only really one and half rooms worth seeing plus an introduction to the house and family in the Dining Room and a video room. Two upstairs bedrooms are devoted to the temporary exhibition, Mad, Bad and Sad: Women and the Mind Doctors, which was partly interesting. I could have done with fewer subjects and a more full portrait of each.
Women featured included Sylvia Plath, Marilyn Monroe, Mary Lamb and Virginia Woolf. Virginia and Leonard Woolf visited Freud here at his home. The exhibition was accompanied by modern art and installations mainly by women. On the staircase wall and in lights was Tracy Emin’s “Be Faithful to your Dreams”
The most interesting room to me was Freud’s ground floor study and consulting room with his famous couch and the green chair in which he sat to listen to his patients baring their souls.
The Freuds were fortunate in being able to leave Vienna in 1938 after the annexation of Austria by Adolf Hitler. They were even able to bring their furniture, hundreds of books (although Sigmund Freud sold 800 before he left) and household ornaments and Freud’s collection of antiquities also including his daughter Anna’s traditional painted Austrian country furniture now on show in the Dining Room. The study is jam-packed with stuff and books and is set up just as it was in Berggasse, 19 his former Viennese home and now another Freud Museum.
Freud’s Couch and Chair
On asking I was told that no photography was allowed in the house. So I bought postcards and these are reproduced here. However I found it very annoying that people were ignoring this and snapping away with their smart phones.
With other rooms having the curtains closed I found the half-landing refreshing and bright – the sun shining through the window. It was an area loved by Freud’s wife, Martha, for afternoon tea and chat. See the bay window above the front door in the top photo.
Between the flat and Maresfield Gardens is a statue of Sigmund Freud. It’s in the grounds of The Tavistock Clinic for Mental Health Care and Education.
Freud was already sick with throat cancer when he arrived in Britain and he was to die just a year later on 23 September 1939 just a few weeks after war was declared on Germany. The couch on which he died is also displayed at the house. His wife and his unmarried daughter Anna lived on in the house. Anna was also a well respected practising psychoanalyst.
Fellow Blogger ‘Down by the Dougie‘ got there before me!
Thanks for the mention Barbara. We do seem to follow each other around, don’t we! (And we have taken to staying at the Belzize Park Premier Inn when we’re having a short break in London)
We had a 2 for 1 token when we visited so got in half price (didn’t realise about the NT half price deal – Handels House that we visited during our latest break a few weeks ago have a similar arrangement)
One day we may bump into each other – or appear on each others photos without realising! I’m staying at my son’s ‘Premier Flat’ in Belsize Park – dog-sitting. A friend mentioned the NT deal to me yesterday and at the museum I picked up a leaflet “12 new places to visit in London”. Well, as we know they are not exactly new but we know what they mean. I was at Handel’s House before I started this blogging lark.
Well we almost did bump into each other once. Remember when we were both at the YSPon the same afternoon about 18 months ago?
Yes, I do! And Nilly Hall was also there that day.
Interesting post. Regarding the issue of no photography, I can understand no flash photography and no tripods etc, but why do so many places have a blanket no pictures policy? When I visited an exhibition at SOAS last year I missed the sign that said no photos and went and asked a security guard. He didn’t know (strangely), but he could see the museum’s director heading our way and suggested I asked him. I did and he said fine, but no flash. I think some museums just seem to think it’s easier to say no pics, but I see the youngsters (like you said) just use their phones. The museum people need to catch up with the changing times and realise that it’s free advertising for them and more people will visit. No doubt they have some excuse about copyright issues, but really they just want people to buy postcards/catalogues which isn’t really always the shot you want!! The V&A have the best policy – take pictures, post them on social media, but credit the V&A.
I agree entirely, agnesashe. You have it in a nutshell – sales! Yes, my pictures wouldn’t be the standard postcard quality pics. I also like, say, a view out of the window or some text to remind me when I get home. Other places say no because the items are on loan. Originally I thought it was because people would spend ages setting up their photographs even using tripods so others couldn’t get a look in. I always ask unless there is sign. The Ben Uri had the right attitude. Yes, but no flash. Thanks for the comment.
This is on our “must see” list – I knew about Freud’s antiquities, but not Anna’s painted country furniture, which I look forward to seeing. About photography – if you find out that a house is hired for weddings you can usually persuade the staff to allow you to take photos – the logic being that obviously they allow wedding photography, so why not the other visitors. We have sometimes been asked to sign a form giving us permission.
I liked the painted furniture although it said that Freud didn’t. I’d have loved to take some quirky pictures and was annoyed with the staff who didn’t stop the others. Yes, I have signed before too and even paid a couple of quid sometimes. There was a very good shop with lots of books (I wouldn’t know where to start) and cards. In the summer you can go in the garden which would be nice. I would most have liked to sit in the window where even today the afternoon streamed in.