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!