Dennis Severs’ House: Inside London’s Strangest Home

Tucked off busy Bishopsgate is Folgate Street, an enclave of forgotten 18th Century London. But surely the strangest address is that of number 18, Dennis Severs House.

Dennis Severs House

Dennis Severs was an American who travelled to London in 1979 and – like many artists and bohemians – was drawn to the cheap houses of Spitalfields.

He moved into the dilapidated no. 18 and over the next years refurbished it as a “still life drama”.

Follow me inside…

Dennis Severs House

His aim was to create the sights, smells and aura of stepping into a Spitalfields family home during the 18th and 19th Century, with each room having its distinct ‘spell’.

Phones – and even whispering – are strictly forbidden, so it’s in complete silence that you make your way through the creaking house.

Dennis Severs House

Photo from Dennis Severs Museum. Credit: Roelof Bakker

It sounds clichéd, but you do feel like you’re literally stepping back in time, so much so that I jumped each time I caught myself in a spotted, antique mirror, my modern clothes jarring with the surroundings.

Dennis Severs House

Photo from Dennis Severs Museum. Credit: Roelof Bakker

“It resembles a pilgrimage through life itself”Peter Ackroyd, London

It’s less of a museum, and more like an intrusion. You spot homely comforts; a pipe still softly smoking and a strawberry with one bite taken out.

Dennis Severs House

Photo from Dennis Severs Museum. Credit: Roelof Bakker

You get the feeling the 18th Century occupiers have just walked out of the room, disturbed by the faint sounds of church bell peals or carts rolling over cobbles outside.

Dennis Severs House

Photo from Dennis Severs Museum. Credit: Roelof Bakker

Dennis Severs envisaged the house as an art installation rather than historic guide, like a forerunner to immersive theatrical experiences. The house is littered with notes and tantalising suggestions;

“You either see it or you don’t” – Dennis Severs

Dennis Severs House

Photo from Dennis Severs Museum. Credit: Roelof Bakker

Visiting

Tickets cost £10 to visit on a Sunday or Monday lunchtime, but £15 for their Monday, Wednesday or Friday ‘Silent Nights’. Or you could try – like I did – to bag a free slot during Open House Weekend in September.

Find out more and book here.

Discover more of Spitalfield’s hidden gems

Join my walk, ‘The Spirit of Spitalfields’ to discover the social history and incredible human stories in London’s original ‘melting pot.’

No Comments

Post a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.