Danson House


Danson Park, Bexleyheath, DA6 8HL


020-8303 6699



Opening times:

Open to the public from Apr-Oct, although available to hire throughout the year.

How to get there:

Station: Bexleyheath (from London Bridge or Charing Cross), then a 10-minute walk

Entry fee:

Admission charge

Danson House is an important mid-18th-century Palladian villa, recently rescued from dereliction. Set in a municipal park in suburban southeast London, it was designed from 1763–67 by Robert Taylor, architect of the Bank of the England, for Sir John Boyd, a director of the East India Company and heir to West Indian sugar plantations. The last private owner was Mr Alfred Bean, a railway entrepreneur, who sold it to Bexley Borough Council in 1921. It was taken on a long lease from the Council by English Heritage in 1995.

The architect William Chambers was involved in designing the interior, notably the marble fireplaces. In a dramatic twist to the story of the restoration of the house, the fireplaces were discovered awaiting shipment abroad, after being stolen from the semi-derelict building. They were replaced in the correct rooms thanks to a series of seven detailed mid-19th-century watercolours of the interior, done by Sarah Jane Johnson, daughter of the second owner. These paintings contributed substantially to the accuracy of the ten-year English Heritage restoration project (architects Purcell Miller Tritton). The house is now managed by the The Bexley Heritage Trust, which is undertaking the complete restoration of the service areas, kitchen, attic storey and grounds, to the original plans of the 18th-century landscape designer Nathaniel Richmond.

The restored rooms include the Dining Room, where two large gilded mirrors decorated with griffins have been recessed into the walls at each end; the Library, with verdigris wall decoration and, in pride of place, a rare late 18th-century chamber organ made by George England of Sheffield; the Octagonal Salon, where the starburst plaster ceiling has been repaired and re-gilded and—the highlight of a tour—the Grand Dining Room, complete with 19 panels painted by the French artist Charles Pavillon in 1766. Carefully restored to their original position and appearance after decades of neglect, they depict festive scenes from mythology, including the fable of Pomona and her ageing lover Vertumnus. They were commissioned by John Boyd to celebrate his recent marriage to the much younger Catherine Chapone.

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Details below are taken from our Blue Guide Museums and Galleries of London.  This is a 2005 title, here generally updated for website address and opening times, with useful comments from some of the museums themselves.  More recent information is given in Emily Barber's magisterial new Blue Guide London, "Exceptional update to a classic and useful guide to this amazing city" (Amazon reader review).

FULL LISTING of CURRENT EXHIBITIONS in London from Apollo Magazine »

Emily Barber recommends five major London museums »

Please do share your comments and updates with us via the form below the entry for each museum.


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Wimbledon Windmill Museum
Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum
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William Morris Gallery
Whitechapel Gallery
Westminster Abbey Museum
Wesley's Chapel
Wellington Arch (English Heritage)
Wallace Collection
Victoria & Albert Museum
Tower Bridge Exhibition
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Sutton House (National Trust)
Spencer House
Southside House
South London Art Gallery
The Courtauld Institute of Art (Somerset House)
Sir John Soane's Museum
Shakespeare’s Globe
Serpentine Gallery
Science Museum
St Bride’s Crypt Museum
St Bartholomew’s Hospital Museum
Saatchi Gallery
Royal Society of Arts
The Royal Mews
Royal London Hospital Museum
The Faraday Museum
Royal Hospital Chelsea
RCM Museum of Music
Royal Academy of Music Museum
Royal Academy of Arts
Red House (National Trust)
Ranger’s House (English Heritage)
Ragged School Museum
The Queen’s Gallery
Prince Henry’s Room
The Photographers’ Gallery
Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology
Osterley Park (National Trust)
Orleans House Gallery
Old Operating Theatre, Museum and Herb Garret
Natural History Museum
National Portrait Gallery
National Gallery
National Army Museum
Musical Museum
World Rugby Museum
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Museum No. 1 (Royal Botanic Gardens)
Museum of London
Garden Museum
Museum in Docklands (Museum of London)
The Royal Observatory
The Queen's House
Old Royal Naval College
Marianne North Gallery (Royal Botanic Gardens)
Marble Hill House (English Heritage)
Mall Galleries
Lord’s Tour and MCC Museum
London Transport Museum
London Fire Brigade Museum
London Canal Museum
18 Stafford Terrace – The Sambourne Family Home
Library and Museum of Freemasonry
Leighton House
Kingston Museum
Kew Palace (Historic Royal Palaces)
London Museum of Water & Steam
Kenwood House (English Heritage)
Kensington Palace (Historic Royal Palaces)
Keats House
Jewish Museum
Jewel Tower (English Heritage)
Jerwood Space
Imperial War Museum
ICA Institute of Contemporary Arts
Hunterian Museum
Horniman Museum
HMS Belfast (Imperial War Museum)
Hayward Gallery
Handel House Museum
Hampton Court Palace (Historic Royal Palaces)
Ham House (National Trust)
Guildhall Art Gallery
Guards Museum
Grant Museum of Zoology & Comparative Anatomy
Geffrye Museum of the Home
Fulham Palace
Freud Museum
Foundling Museum
Forty Hall & Estate
Florence Nightingale Museum
Firepower: The Royal Artillery Museum
Fenton House (National Trust)
Fashion and Textile Museum
Fan Museum
Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art
Eltham Palace (English Heritage)
Dulwich Picture Gallery
Dr Johnson’s House
Dennis Severs' House
Danson House
Cutty Sark
Contemporary Applied Arts
Chiswick House (English Heritage)
Chelsea Physic Garden
Chartered Insurance Institute Museum
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Camden Arts Centre
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The British Museum
The British Library
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Benjamin Franklin House
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