Living in Portsmouth

Discover how life at home has changed over the centuries.

Follow the story of life in Portsmouth through the generations. See what life was like for the residents of our city and take a glimpse into how they lived.

Discover how home life has changed over the centuries through room reconstructions, using objects from across all the Portsmouth Museums’ collections.

Begin your journey in our 17th century bedchamber – but try not to wake the residents! All the furniture in this room is from the fine and decorative art collection. Even the panelling on the walls (dating from the 1650s) is from Paulsgrove House, which was demolished to make way for the M275.

Next, you can find out how the way we cook our food and the china we eat it off has changed. The displays include everything from plates excavated in Oyster Street, Old Portsmouth, to very fine tea wares from China. The theme is continued in our 1871 dockyard worker’s kitchen and 1930s kitchen – it’s amazing how things have changed.

Among the most notable differences is how the kitchen is fully equipped – but contains to trace of plastic whatsoever. Take a look at our activity sheet to see the differences and help children learn how to use less plastic.

The glamour of 1930s style and design are showcased in our dining room scene. This includes locally made furniture designed by Betty Joel, who used the skills of local craftsmen who had previously worked as yacht fitters. The room is decorated with sculpture, glass and ceramics by big names of the day including Rene Lalique and Clarice Cliff.

Last but not least is the 1950s living room. All the items here are sourced from local homes and includes nostalgic TV programmes from the era.