From 1875, 18 Stafford Terrace was the home of Punch cartoonist Edward Linley Sambourne, his wife Marion, their two children and their live-in servants. The house gives an insight into the personal lives of the Sambourne family, and also provides a rare example of what was known as an 'Aesthetic interior' or 'House Beautiful' style. The Aesthetic Movement of the late nineteenth century advocated the use of foreign or 'exotic' influences in the decoration of the home. This can be seen by the various Japanese, Middle-Eastern and Chinese objects throughout the Sambournes' home. After the deaths of Linley and Marion Sambourne, the house was preserved by their descendants. In 1980 it was opened to the public by the Victorian Society. This organisation had been inaugurated at 18 Stafford Terrace in 1958 by the Sambourne's grand-daughter, Anne, 6th Countess of Rosse. In 1989, its ownership passed to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
The interiors at Stafford Terrace are very much a product of Linley's taste. For Linley, the acquisition of objects, and furniture in particular, was an almost obsessive enthusiasm. He told a journalist in 1893: "What you see is the very best. That has been my principle throughout; not to buy anything but what was really good. But it has taken time to accumulate. There has not been an unlimited exchequer to draw upon." A full inventory made in December 1877 reveals that there were already large quantities of furniture, objects and framed pictures arranged throughout the interiors. Some had been purchased with the house, others came through family as gifts. Over 150 items were bought from a nearby house clearance in 1877. Sambourne continued to attend sales and auctions right up until his death, adding ever more objects to the interiors, often to Marion's despair.