Georgian House Museum
7 Great George Street (just off Park St)
Somerset BS1 5RR
Many of Bristol’s beautiful Georgian houses were built as private residences for wealthy merchants and businessmen. The Georgian House in the city centre was built in1790 by John Pinney (1740-1818). Pinney made a fortune from slave based sugar plantations in the Caribbean.
The six-storey townhouse is of particular interest to visitors who want to find out more about Bristol’s links to the slave trade. Pinney had an African-Caribbean slave, Pero, as his personal valet. In 1999, to remember the part that Pero played in Bristol’s past, a footbridge at Bristol Harbour was named after him.
Georgian House is now owned by Bristol City Council and has been restored and decorated to its original 18th century glory. It contains some of the original furniture and fittings. Eleven rooms spread over four floors reveal what life was like above and below stairs, from the kitchen in the basement where servants prepared meals to the elegant formal rooms above.
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Life Above Stairs
See the Dining Room, Drawing Room and Study displayed as they might have looked in the 18th century.
The Dining Room – the table is set for an extravagant dinner party reflecting the wealthy Georgian’s love of entertaining. Look out for the servants’ bells, which were used to summon staff from the basement.
Pinney’s Study – furnished simply but to impress. This is where Pinney could discuss business or talk with his friends after dinner. The bookcases contain a collection of his books that reveal his interest in the study of plants and geography.
The Drawing Room – where the Pinneys entertained lots of important guests such as Lady Frances, wife of Admiral Lord Nelson; William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge may also have been entertained here!
Library and a Ladies’ Withdrawing Room – this was a place for ladies to talk and sew whilst the men discussed politics and business affairs over a drink in the library.
Business was never forgotten even in the Bedroom – from the window, John Pinney could see ships on the river bringing his plantation goods into Bristol.
Slavery & the Sugar Trade
A small display explores John Pinney’s involvement in the sugar trade and the life of the enslaved African named Pero.
Life Below Stairs
Discover the kitchen, laundry and housekeeper’s rooms from where the affairs of the house were run. Venture into the basement and get a taste of the hustle and bustle of life below stairs.
Servants were essential to a wealthy Georgian’s life but they were not to be on view. Discover the hidden staircase that enabled the servants to get to most of the upstairs rooms without being seen.
A small lift known as a ‘dumb waiter’, was used to move things up and down the house, and a range of bells was used by the family to summon the servants.
In the Housekeeper’s Room the housekeeper would write up her accounts, make orders for food and perhaps sit and drink tea made from her mistress’ used tea leaves - one of the benefits which went with her job!
A very unusual feature below stairs is the cold water plunge pool used by the master of the house.
Plan Your Visit
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End of March to end of October
10:30 – 16:00 hours
The museum is closed on certain days. Check their website Web: Georgian House Museum/ Opening Times
Because of the age and layout of the house access is limited to the ground floor. Folders containing photographs of the displays upstairs are available on the ground floor There are stairs to all floors
Contact & Further Information
+44 (0)1179 211 362
- On Foot
The museum is halfway along Park Street on Great George Street, about a five to 10 minute walk from the city centre. The Museum website has an excellent 'Getting There' map
- By Bus
Bus numbers 1, 2, 8, 9, 16, 19, 40, and 41 all travel up Park Street and from the Clifton Triangle.
- By Car
The museum is around two miles (3.2 kms) from the M32.
Parking is available in any of the city car parks but the closest two are College Street and Trenchard Street, both about a five minute walk away.
Google Map - Georgian House Museum