Saturday, 20 March 2010


Dennis Severs House
18, Folgate Street
E1 6BX
If you are ever in London and are lost for something to do, go and visit Dennis Severs House. It is situated in the City, very near to the restaurant, Galvin's, that we went to for Mother's Day. We have been, a while ago now, and it is a real treat. It isn't very expensive and takes about one hour and, to see it at it's best, one should go when it's dark and, if you happen to be in the area at Christmas, it is decorated with decorations and a Christmas tree. Dennis Severs(1948-1999) bought this house and turned it into a time capsule. He was an artist and lived in the house in much the same way as its original occupants might have done in the early 18th century.

To enter through the door is to pass through a frame and into a painting - one with a time and a life of it's own.

The game is that you interrupt a family of Huguenot silk weavers named Jervis who, though they can still sometimes be heard, seem always to be just out of sight.
As you journey off in a silent search through the 10 rooms, each by fire and candlelight, you receive a number of stimulations to your senses.
There is the sound of a carriage outside, the wheels of which and the horses hooves, clattering and clip clopping off into the London night. There is the smell of food .... Mr Jervis's meal is only half-eaten ....did he abandon it when he heard us arrive ? The experience is conducted in silence, and it's level is poetic.
Dennis Severs called his unique experience 'still life drama' and his goal was to provide his visitors with a rare moment in which to become as lost in another time as they appear to be in their own.
The 10 rooms of the house harbour 10 spells, that engages the visitors imagination in moods that dominated the periods between 1724 and 1914.
Room 1 is the cellar. You begin in the dark in which there are fragments of St. Mary's Spital AD 1197, hence the name 'Spitalfields'. You are drawn by the light and warmth of ............

Room 2 ..The Kitchen

Room 3 is The Eating Parlour

Room 4 is The Smoking Room

Room 5 is the Withdrawing Room
There are various bedrooms and sometimes ..........
you can hear a child giggle or a young woman whispering ..........
When you enter a room, a candle has just been extinguished and has left a trail of smoke as if the occupant has just snuffed out the candle and left in a hurry.

As you reach the top floor, it starts to get cold and less luxurious. These are the rooms that the Jervis family have let out and are for a poorer family. The drapes on the bed are tattered and torn and the furniture is of much poorer quality. On a table are the remains of a supper of oysters, which was the food of the poor in those days. You can hear the tolling of Big Ben, telling the City that Queen Victoria is dead.

This is not a museum ....... it is not designed to make you 'learn something' in a conventional way. If you are annoyed at the silence observed then you have missed the point. The visitor is required to engage with the atmosphere and story ........ and, if you do, it's a really special sensation that stays with you. From the minute you walk in the door, you step back in time........ you can imagine the hard times when you reach the attic rooms, eerily cold, you can smell the poverty. Listen hard and you can hear the occupants. The journey through the house becomes a journey through time with it's small rooms and hidden corridors, it's whispered asides, it resembles a pilgrimage through life itself.
Painter David Hockney described the house as one of the world's greatest works of Opera.
Dennis Severs bequeathed the house to the Spitalfields Trust shortly before his death.
Go and visit if you are in the area. It is a truly special experience.



  1. Wow, amazing!!! I have never even heard of it, it sounds fascinating. I must go.

    Great post - and really good photos.

    Happy Week-end! xo

  2. Oh, Jackie!!!! This is one of my favorite posts ever!!!!!!!! I didn't know about this house, but now that I do, I'm itching for my next trip to London. What an amazing place. Everything about your description--which is pure magic, my friend--makes me long to visit this place. It's at the top of my list for our next journey to the U.K.

    Thanks, my friend, for introducing me to this house. xoxo Gigi

  3. Yes! Yes!
    I have read about this, but have never been. I am adding it to my list for my next visit! How I'd love to see it! Thanks for the fabulous photographs. And Happy Spring!

  4. Dear Jackie, What a fascinating and beautifully presented posting. Although I have read about this house [could it have been in World of Interiors?] I have to say, to my shame, I have never visited.

    You have done more than tempt. The thoughtful way in which you have introduced the house, and led each one of us from room to room, is so well considered and so expertly done yet, importantly, never revealing too much at any time.

    Thank you so much for a magical tour.

  5. Dear Jackie!!!! Wonderful photos! I´m in May, finally, again in London and am already so glad about it!!!!
    Have a great weekend, Yvonne

  6. How fascinating, I will remember that next time I am in England

  7. Fantastic!!I would love to visit this special house,feel the dark,so magical.
    Thank you my dear Jackie for telling us the story and showing the fabulous photos!
    Have a lovely evening
    Lots of love

  8. I read this post 3 times........and if this won't get me to visit your 'neck of the woods' I don't know what would.......absolutely beautiful pictures, but the poetic atmosphere, and the way you wrote this Jackie is TRULY awe inspiring!!

  9. hi jacqueline,
    i am sure i will be back in london. i love that city.
    and when i do..... ya, going there

  10. Jackie, came your way via Anne Marie and so glad I did. I may never see this wonderful home in person, but I can by way of your post. Beautifully written too.

  11. While was reading your description of the house (very good at that!) I understood why London is such an amazing city....I've lived there for 2 months and I miss it so much. You can find places like this one and have magic experiences. Thank you so much for this charming post, it was really like being with you!!

    xx Have a good sunday

  12. Hi Jackie! Thank you so mutch for this tips, I hope to go to London this summer, and I will defently visit this sounds marvellous! I hope you have a great weekend!
    Hugs from me! :)

  13. Oh Jackie-

    Thank you for this. I have always wanted to visit this special London spot. My ancestors were Huguenots, and some I think were weavers. Your posting is one I will re-visit over and over-just to take everything in.

    Happy belated Mother's Day!


  14. I´m speechless, Jackie!
    This place is wonderful.
    Thank´s for the tour.I will definitely make a visit here,if I´ll ever come to London.

    Wish you a great evening.

  15. what a fun tour of a not-museum

    thank you.

  16. Jackie,
    you have to get out of my head. You simply can not move in there take up residence and nick my post idea for Monday. Hahahaha.

    They do say great minds think alike, I am glad to be in such beautiful company. I was planning on doing this house in a post on Monday. Such an amazing place. I could spend hours, days and weeks there.

    By the way I think you have done a far better job of reporting on this than I would have.
    I am off now to lock myself in a lead lined box, so that you can't get into my head again, after all there is barely enough room in there for me and my ramblings.

    Much love have a wonderful weekend.

  17. Hi Jackie Great post

    This house was on my list when we were in London in late 2008 unfortunately we ran out of time. It is my favourite kind of touristy place, one where you can so easily pretend to be transported in time.

    I love that part of London too. Still relatively untouched and authentic.


  18. Jackie, thank you for that amazing post. I can tell you this one is definitely going on my sights to see list. I can't wait!
    Hope you are having a wonderful weekend!
    Jeanne :)
    PS..thanks for the comment earlier :)

  19. What an incredible story. You had me completely bewitched, Jackie. I can imagine wanting to visit it more than once. It sounds and looks completely engaging and a sensory experience par excellence. Thank you so much for sharing this. One of these days I'll get to London and visit this for myself. Maybe you could meet me there in your top hat and give me the grand tour :) Meredy xo.
    p.s. I just love visiting here....I never know what delight awaits behind that blog button on my sidebar.

  20. Jackie I felt pure enchantment with this post. I felt as if I was experiencing a dream of mine that likely will never come true, but because of you, I could enjoy this poetry through you. Thanks friend.

  21. Jacqueline...this would have to be one of my favourite posts on your blog...I LOVED IT! And I totally had goosebumps reading it and dissecting every inch of every image. I wish we had more places like this to visit here in Sydney..there are a few at the Rocks..old Victorian houmes once occupied by convicts...which was still so very intriguing...but nothing like this..truly amazing..thank you so much for sharing. x

  22. What a place Jackie ~ it sounds so different and cool! Love all the pictures and the story that goes along with them. Great post!

  23. I have just read a article about this place. Was it in an English newspaper recently? Now that I've read about it twice I know its kismet that I must go..Next time I'm in London..Thank you and beautiful, beautiful photographs..cynthia Wolff

  24. Jackie,
    My dear friend Anne Marie posted about your post today and I just had to visit...
    THis might be one of the most amazing things I have ever read about and I am JUST SICK that I did not know about this house/experience when I visited London 6 years ago.
    Those photographs transported me and I swear I could hear the clip clop of the horses and the footsteps overhead of the renters...
    Really, this has completely captured my imagination and it is for sure going on my list of places to visit in my life.
    I could go on but I am at a loss for words. I feel... well, enriched just knowing about this.
    Come by for a visit when you get the chance. Thank you so much for sharing this with us!!!

  25. Lovely, eerie, fascinating! My dream is to visit your country someday and just soak up atmosphere.

  26. I always feel like I'm experiencing your stories when I read them! How I would love to visit that.

  27. oh my goodness! i am enchanted by both the idea, the photographs and your spellbinding description. what a gift. i am so happy to have found your blog via na-da farm....please visit my for american farm life. i love yours and will visit regularly!

  28. wow.
    this an amazing post.

    i would like to see it in person.

  29. Hi Jackie
    What a wonderful experience...wish I knew about that house when I visited London a few years ago! I will have to keep it in mind when I go back.

  30. Thank you for such a lovely tour...I would so love to visit this amazing home...someday soon maybe if I keep my fingers and toes crossed. xoxo

  31. This sounds like a fascinating tour to take...I will definitely put this on the list of "must sees" when I get to London!! Such a marvelous post! xxoo :)

  32. I'm so thrilled you posted about this house Jackie. This would be something we both so enjoy. Graham is fascinated by time-travel and I love anything with history. Bye your description one can truly 'feel' what the experience may be like. I won't forget this. Thank you so much and hope you will have a lovely Sunday. Hugs to you xx

  33. Fabulous post as per normal Jackie. We watched a program where it was featured in TV Thursday night and loved how the "staff" keep it breathing in every sense of the word.

    Cannot wait to see it in real.

    Bon weekend a toi,

    Leeann x

  34. Merci Jackie pour cette belle découverte que tu nous fais partager.
    Bon dimanche


  35. Living art! How exceptionally intriguing. I would love to visit. x

  36. Jackie, I hope to be in London in the next few months and I will definitely put this incredible place on my list - and I have just decided I decidedly need a "Withdrawing Room" - who knew? stunning post and photos, as always! ox

  37. WOW! Fantastic! There something so magical about this home! Thanks for sharing it with us!

  38. Whew! loved that trip. England is so much more interesting because of you. When I was there it was so boring I was a little disappointed. wish I knew you then..


  39. Jackie, everyone else has already said it. I really would love to come over for the experience. However, aside from the poverty - I can imagine myself better living in the upstairs eating oysters than swaning around in the dingy opulence below... FABULOUS!!

  40. It sounds like a wonderfully atmospheric experience, Jacqueline, and you'd be just the person to have as companion for it, looking magnificently Dickensian in your top hat.

  41. Jackie,
    I cannot wait to return to London again so that we can visit this house! It sounds amazing ~ an experience to carry with you forever.
    Yesterday, we were in the city at the old Fort Mason army housing. The government is restoring these for living accommadations. One of the buildings happens to be an old hospital which will be converted to residential. I truly believe they are haunted and will remain the home to many ghosts and spirits ~ and I do not believe I am up for the task of co-habitating with them. Just in passing, I felt another presence which made my steps quicken (not with fear, but rather a respect to leave them in peace).
    Anyway, thank you again for another incredibly informative post filled with your lovely images and words.

  42. Thank you so much for sharing this very authentic Victorian abode, Jackie.
    I never knew this place existed, so I must go and take a look. You mentioned it is better to go in the evening.
    Spitalfields is an amazing area ... I must return again!
    Thanks again for the wonderful descriptive text Jackie.

  43. A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour..............................................

  44. Oh wow. Stunning and culture all wrapped into one. Hope you had a great weekend.

  45. Wow Jackie
    What a fantastic place. I've seen this online and tv but never in person. I'd love to experience this but would worry the ghosts would come home with me... I have enough of them already.. hahaha although I'm sure they are more well fed and pampered in this luxurious home.. event the shabby servants quarters seem dripping in atmosphere... good thing I am reading this in daylight or my resident spirits might get a wee bit jealous and start acting out demanding better quarters.. Love the black wood panelling!!! have a good one! xxx Julie

  46. Dear Jackie,

    What a special house! I will certainly visit when I am in London again. You told the story beautifully! The house looks a bit scary as well, but that only adds to its appeal ;-)!

    Have a lovely week!

    Lieve groet, Madelief

  47. that is one amazing house - fabulous and well worth a visit! x


  49. Must put that on our list of "to do's" as we're going to London for a few days in September, thanks for sharing. Lucey xx

  50. Wow Jackie - I have goose bumps on your tour of this amazing house. Oh I need a trip to London...

  51. I've had this weird and wonderful place on my "must visit in London" list for a long time but never seem to get there. After reading your brilliant post I'll definitely have to make a bigger effort. Hope you have a lovely week with some nice spring weather. Leigh

  52. Wow Jackie, what a wonderful place. Your posts are always unique.
    Will have to make a visit next time I am in London!

  53. Jackie - Thank you for this - I had never heard of it but it's definitely going on my 'must do' list for next visit! Have a happy week x

  54. Wow - never heard of this and am totally curious now - and what fantastic photos!

  55. Dear Jackie,

    What an extraordinary post. What a brilliant idea.

    (When I saw your hedline I thought a man named Dennis severed your house.)

    Your pictures are absolutely fabulous.

    Thank you for the adventure. With your pictures and the explanation it was almost if. . .


  56. What a fantastic place and tour ! The "mise en scène" is fabulous..thank you, i will mark it down as must-visit place in London..
    I've discovered your exquisite blog via Mel..Love it !!

  57. This is exactly the kind of historical home I love to visit. Your description was so well done I thought I was right there with you.
    The opulence of the downstairs rooms were magnificent but I felt more at ease in the upstairs rooms:)) hahaha much more charming too.
    It reminds me of the House of Seven Gables in Salem Mass. Though the architecture is a bit different....the contrast of the main rooms to the servants quarters is much the same.

    Sorry I'm so late coming by...I owe you an email too!!!

    xxx Carole

  58. I love history and must visit this house. I could feel the chill of the house. Thank you for telling such a wonderful story

  59. Oh Yes, this will definitely be on my list of 'To Visit's. Thankyou for blogging about it. I saw this featured on a TV programme recently but your photos and description make me want to go even more.

  60. This is something right up my alley. I would love to experience this. If I come over, I will put it on my must do list. I just love history and to see something this meticulous would be wonderful.

  61. Oh me oh my! What a visual feast. Found your blog through Leigh at Brabourne Farm. Can't wait to explore it more. Beautiful with a capital B!!

  62. wow, amazing! so beautiful <3

  63. I agree with Kerry, such a visual feast indeed. I have just gogled it and plan to make a trip if possible before we leave London, so pleased I stopped by to learn about it.

  64. That's a great idea! Thank you!!

  65. Looks like a great journey!... I used to come a lot to London around 1998 and some years see bands im the Astoria and other little venues..... I remember sitting on a bench with Coldplay after one of their first gigs at a pub in Camden town, I only ever went to Camden town these days.. If I should go now I probably would search for all kind of interior shops ;P
    Thanks for your nice comment ;)

  66. hello there..i really enjoy your blog its so fun to takes you to inpiring places! thanks for that!

  67. Wow, this is really amazing. Jackie your blog is truly amazing. Your blog is always filled with inspiration! I love fashion and I love interior design. Your blog is the perfect place to visit. You are the best! I really appreciate all of your sweet comments you leave on my blog! They mean the world to me!!!!
    Take Care,

  68. Bonjour Jackie,
    How did I miss this fabulous post? You are an excellent tour guide, this house looks so fascinating, and you made it come alive. The images are amazing. Will definitely add it to my must see list when in London next.
    A pleasure to visit as always - you are the Blog Queen!
    Good Wednesday to you,

  69. What a unique concept, Jackie! I hope that you're having a lovely week. xo

  70. Oh wow, this looks like just my cup of tea! I will be sure to check it out this summer. Thank you for sharing it :O)

    B x

  71. OMGosh, I stumbled here somehow and you are my newest favorite blog! How do you feel about a little reblogging? I always credit my source and just love collecting stuff on Lemmeno if you are ok with it and I LOVE YOUR BLOG!!!!
    xoxo, Champagne Maker

  72. I'm really interested in visiting this one :)

  73. I just went here yesterday and came across your post looking for pics. Truly is facinating, juxtaposed by immediately following my visit with one the nearby Geffrey Museum of the home. Museum vs anti-museum