If you walk north down Bishopsgate for 5 minutes and you get a street off to the right called Folgate Street. At number 18, lies a museum house known as Dennis Severs’ House.
The house which dates back to 1724 was lived in from 1979-1999 by an eccentric American called Dennis Severs. He purchased the house when is was in a dilapidated condition and restored it into a time capsule in the style of former centuries.
Dennis Severs, born 1948 in California was drawn to London by what he called ‘English light’ and made his home in the property in 1979. Severs started on a programme to refurbish the ten rooms of the house, each in a different historic style, mainly from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Each room is arranged as if they are in use and the occupants have only just left. There are therefore displays of items such as half-eaten bread and different smells and background sounds for each room. Severs called this ‘still life drama’. Woven through the house is the story of the fictive Jervis family, orginally Huguenot (French Protestant immigrants) silk weavers.
Before he died from cancer in 1999, Severs bequeathed the house to the Spitalfields Historic Buildings Trust and is now open to the public. There is one rule whilst walking around the house, to make sure you soak up the atmosphere of the period, you are not allowed to talk!
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