Liverpool hidden gem: 200-year-old Sudley House has a unique art collection

Sudley House is noted for its stunning Aesthetic Movement interiors and impressive collection of Victorian art.

Part of National Museums Liverpool, Sudley House in South Liverpool is a hidden gem. Noted for its Aesthetic Movement interiors, it celebrated its 200th birthday last year.

It also houses the only surviving Victorian merchant art collection in Britain still hanging in its original location. Decorated in a Victorian style, it still has many original features.

History of Sudley House and owner George Holt

Liverpool merchant and ship owner George Holt (1825-1896) and his family moved into Sudley House in 1884.

George invested inherited wealth, and enormous profits generated by his trade in foodstuffs, in his passion for collecting art.

The paintings at Sudley, by some of the finest artists of his time, now form the only surviving, intact collection of artworks once owned by a merchant family.

His fortune also enabled him to enhance Sudley House and furnish it to his taste.

Both before and after the family moved in, George Holt carried out extensive changes to the property, both structural and decorative.

Sudley House bequeathed to Liverpool

When George Holt died in 1896, his wife, Elizabeth, and daughter, Emma Georgina, continued to live at Sudley.

Emma lived on in the house until the outbreak of war in 1939. In her will, she bequeathed Sudley House and its estate to the Liverpool Corporation, together with her father’s wonderful collection of paintings, as an art gallery for the people of Liverpool.

In 1946, the Corporation sold off all the rest of the contents of Sudley and turned part of the ground floor into a temporary public library.

In 1986, Liverpool County Museums, including Sudley, became the National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside, now known as National Museums Liverpool.