- Mon 12-2pm, 5-9pm, Wed, Fri 5-9pm, Sun 12-4pm
- £5 – £17.50
Step back through time
Just when you feel you’ve exhausted all things historical that London has to offer – a place appears, that lures you in with its mystery and charm. Dennis Severs’ House is a particularly rare discovery because it’s not just a simple museum with pieces displayed in an impersonal modern day setting. Imagine stepping out of a time-machine into an East London home anytime between the 18th and early 20th century. This was Dennis Sever’s idea when he bought a Grade II listed townhouse, minutes from Spitafield’s market.
An eccentric American artist living in the last century, Sever did not simply want to restore an old house; he was a storyteller who wanted to bring history to life. By appealing to all senses of his visitors, he has achieved this, conveying the feeling of actually being among history or within a ‘still-life drama’ if you like. He wanted his guests to experience, as he described: ‘a collection of atmospheres: moods that harbour the light and the spirit of various ages in time.’ Each room captures a different period in history, which guests can marvel and immerse themselves in.
Step inside Dennis Severs’ House and enjoy being the voyeur: observe shadows cast by flickering candlelight on the walls; hear the sounds of clocks faintly ticking in the background; breathe in scents which linger in the air. Loafs of freshly cut bread, half drunk cups of tea, chamber pots unemptied! opened liquor bottles in old wooden boxes, unlaced boots at the foot of unmade four poster beds. All these little details give the guest a ‘Mary Celeste’ feeling – as if the inhabitants of the house left hurriedly, only minutes before, with no time to clean or prepare for their newly arrived guests.
The house is now owned by Spitafields Historic Building Trust, and visitors are asked when entering the house to move in silence to maximise the experience. The attraction also offers various events throughout the year such as candlelit tours on Halloween and Christmas ‘silent-nights’ with festive refreshments and exclusive private bookings. If time-travel is something you’ve always wanted to experience, this may be the closest possible way to achieve it in London.
Please see the website for more details.
Photos by Roelof Bakker
Dennis Severs’ House
18 Folgate St