William Sievier, British Museum Porter, at the gate of Montagu House, a lithograph
London, England, around AD 1840
Welcome to the British Museum
The gate of Montagu House was in fact a doorway opening off Great Russell Street and leading to a brick-paved courtyard. On the far side of the courtyard you can see steps leading up to the front door of the old Museum. Off to the sides were offices and stables. Montagu House, a seventeenth-century building, was gradually replaced by the present Museum buildings between 1823 and 1852.
The gate was opened to visitors by the Museum's porter, who at the time this drawing was made was a man called William Sievier. He is shown here wearing the 'Windsor Uniform'. In 1836 King William IV gave to the servants of the British Museum the right to wear this uniform, which was very much like the uniform of the servants at Windsor Castle. It consisted of a blue coat with scarlet collar and cuffs and gilt buttons. The Museum's Warders still wear this uniform on special occasions, for example when a member of the British royal family visits the Museum.
William Sievier was paid a salary of eighty pounds a year. He was one of sixteen servants who were employed by the Museum's Trustees. The others were a messenger, an assistant messenger, seven housemaids, two night-watchmen and four labourers.