Tucked away in the heart of Spitalfields is a Georgian Grade II listed building, Dennis Severs’ House.
It’s now home to a fascinating artistic rendering of a particular strand of East End history – you may have seen glimpses of the house’s interior in Dr Lucy Worsley’s BBC documentary,At Home With the Georgians.
Dennis Severs was an eccentric artist who breathed new life into the historic interior of 18 Folgate Street like only he knew how. The result is more of an immersive exhibition than a museum, filled with authentic 18th Century household objects and sumptuous interior styling with minimal invasion from the modern world just outside the threshold.
Described as a time capsule “still life drama”, the concept follows incidents in the life of generations of a fictitious family of Huguenot silk weavers, the Jervis (Gervais) family (a group of French settlers, persecuted on the continent for their Protestant beliefs.)
The house motto is Aut Visum Aut Non, meaning, “you either see it or you don’t.” Journeying silently from room to room, as is required of visitors to the Severs house, you’ll be whisked away by sensory stimuli that are intended to transport you back to Georgian life, inviting visitors to imagine themselves as inhabitants of the era.
Those with a penchant the strange and the historic should be delighted by this experience – and those who enjoy a good old-fashioned snoop around other peoples homes. The rooms are a feast for the eyes, adorned with intricate fabrics and objets d’art.
The rooms are left just as if the family who left it have just popped out – unmade beds, unfinished bottles of wine, half-written letters, and even a bedpan. A note to cat lovers, who will appreciate the Severs resident mouse-killer-general, Madge, the black cat, who slinks around guarding the premises while the Jervis family are out.
We advise guests to do a little research ahead of visiting to really get in the spirit – those with a literary imagination should find a wealth of fascinating historical and artistic eccentricity to spark the imagination.
Location: 18 Folgate Street, London E1 6BX. Nearest stations: Shoreditch High Street or Liverpool Street. Find it on Google Maps.
Opening hours: Selected dates and times – see website.
Price: from £15
More information: on their website.