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Dennis Severs House

   Dennis Severs House

Dennis Severs, a Californian artist, was drawn to London by what he called "English light", and made his home in this dilapidated property in Folgate Street in 1979.

Severs started on a programme transform each individual room within the red-brick Georgian terraced house into evocative tableaux vivants designed to draw the visitor into another world and another all-encompassing experience. The rooms are 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" and wrote:

"I worked inside out to create what turned out to be a collection of atmospheres: moods that harbour the light and the spirit of various ages."

 Woven through the house is the story of the fictive Jervis family (a name anglicised from Gervais), originally Huguenot (French Protestant immigrants) silk weavers who lived at the house from 1725 to 1919. Each room evokes incidental moments in the lives of these imaginary inhabitants. Writer Peter Ackroyd, author of London: the biography, wrote:

“The journey through the house becomes a journey through time; with its small rooms and hidden corridors, its whispered asides and sudden revelations, it resembles a pilgrimage through life itself”

Severs bequeathed the house to the Spitalfields Trust shortly before his death. It is now open to the public, who are asked during their visit to respect the intent of the creator and participate in an imaginary journey to another time.

The motto of the house is Aut Visum Aut Non!: 'You Either See it or you don't'.

Business detail

18 Folgate Street
E1 6BX
0207 247 4013
Closest tube
Shoreditch High Street
Opening Hours
£8 (Sun), £5 (Mon lunch time), £12 (Mon Candlelight Tours - booking essential)


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