Dr Johnson’s House


17 Gough Square, (off Fleet Street), EC4A 3DE


020-7353 3745



Opening times:

May–Sept Mon–Sat 11:00–17:30; Oct–April Mon–Sat 11:00–17:00; Closed bank holidays

How to get there:

Tube: Blackfriars/Chancery Lane

Entry fee:

Admission charge

Additional information:

No disabled access, shop

Dr Johnson’s House lies tucked behind Fleet Street, approached via a number of passages, Hind Court, St Dunstan’s Court or Johnson’s Court, narrow alleyways which are part of London’s pre-1666 Great Fire street pattern. They open into Gough Square with its granite paving and, in the evening, atmospheric gas lighting. The house occupies the square’s west end and is its principal remaining old building. A handsome c. 1700 house of red brick, with a later 18th-century doorcase, it was where the great lexicographer Dr Samuel Johnson (1709–84) lived from 1748–59. The house has had a mixed history since Johnson’s occupation. In the 19th century it was a hotel, a print shop and a storehouse, but was restored by Cecil Harmsworth and opened as a museum in 1912. The small-scale house immediately adjoining is the curator’s residence.

Originally from Lichfield in Staffordshire, Johnson moved to London with his friend the actor David Garrick. A struggling journalist when he first occupied the house, he produced The Rambler here and wrote his novel Rasselas. It was also while he was living here that he was commissioned to write the celebrated Dictionary. Published in two volumes in 1755, it went through four editions in Johnson’s lifetime and instantly became the standard authority. A congenial man with a wide circle of intellectual friends, including at this point in his life the artist Sir Joshua Reynolds and Charles Burney, Johnson nevertheless was not a wealthy man. He lived simply at Gough Square with his wife, Elizabeth Porter, 20 years his senior, until her death in 1752, and later his Jamaican servant, Francis Barber, joined him.

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Update from Dr Johnson's House

Today, the House is open to the public with restored interiors, a wealth of original features and a collection relating to Johnson and his contemporaries. An audio guide is available in three languages (£2), along with foreign interpretation guides (ten languages), facsimile dictionaries, Georgian costumes and a gift shop.

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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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