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Monday, October 31, 2011

The Tale of a House in Spitalfields ~ England

Happy Halloween my dear friends!

Today I wanted to share with you a home located in London that is high on my bucket list of places to visit.

Is is an enchanting Georgian terraced home located at 18 Folgate Street Spitalfields, London, England.

Spitalfields is located in the East End area of London. Beginning in 1685 several French refugees settled in the area after receiving the Edict of Fontainebleau which was issued by Louis XIV. The edict revoked the previous Edict of Nantes (1598) which had given the Huguenots (French Protestants) the right to practice their religion without persecution from the state. The Edict of Fontainebleau ordered all Huguenot churches and schools to be closed or destroyed. The Huguenots were also ordered to convert to Catholicism. As a result hundreds of thousands of French citizens left France seeking asylum in other countries.

File:Ch ch spitalfields.400px.jpg

Christ Church, Spitalfields

At the time the area was outside of London as the French refugees hoped to avoid the restrictions of the City Councils. Most of the Huguenots literally fled with just the clothes on their backs. But they had tremendous skill in the area of silk weaving. This proved to be a very lucrative skill indeed for those who had settled here.

Spitalfields silk weavers, 1893.

By the late 18th century the area was filled with well appointed terraced houses and mansions which surrounded Spital Square. As the silk industry died the city fell into a deep decay that lasted for decades. Thankfully Spitalfields has recently been revitalized by the Spitalfields Trust, who saw the value in saving the area from urban blight.

In 1979, when the area was still questionable, an American, Dennis Severs, moved into the dilapidated property on Folgate Street . It had no electricity or running water.

He set about restoring ten rooms inside the house. Each room is decorated in a different historic design style from the 18th and 19th centuries.

The rooms were arranged as if the owners, members of the fictional Jervis family, have just left each room moments before your arrival.

There are displays such as half-eaten bread as well as different smells and background sounds for each room.

Mr. Severs referred to the scenes in the rooms as “still life drama”. It is indeed an art installation that lives out the lives of occupants that are said to not truly exist.

The attention to detail is astonishing.

Some of the rooms are opulently furnished as befitting a silk merchant.

Other rooms indicate that the family fortune has begun to dwindle.

For me this would be the ultimate ghost story to experience.

Mr. Severs generously bequeathed his home to the Spitalfields Trust shortly before his death in 1999. It is open to the public and run by his friend, curator Mick Pedroli.

The motto of the home is “Aut Visum Aut Non” (You either see it or you don't).

Part I of a brilliant BBC program.

Part II

Part III

I see it. Do you?



Teresa said...

Now we're talking... THIS is Halloween and Scaringly Funny.

I didn't know about this place but we could book and visit it together. I'll need your Connaisseur Expertise to go through all the details, I'm certain.

Aut Visum, Pretty Lady.

Have Fun, Take Care and Enjoy the enjoyment of the youngs.


Julie Tucker-Wolek said...

Wow!! What interesting history! I loveeeeeeee this!! I can see why you want to visit there! Happy Halloween! :):):):):):):):):):):)

Ricki Jill Treleaven said...

Wow, I just added the Dennis Severs house to my bucket list!

Linda said...

Very cool!! You always deliver that, Laura. :)

Hope you have a wonderful Halloween.
Love, Linda

Priscilla said...

The picture of the bread loaf looks like a painting by Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, one of my favorite artists. What beautiful styling.
Great Post!

Marydon said...

I knew if ANYONE had a good Halloween share, it would be you, sweet Laura. Love the history. We have the same treats, & look forward to no T&T's with a wee bit of luck.

BOO-T-ful Halloween wishes
Hugs & love,

Randi~Dukes and Duchesses said...

Fantastic ... I'm just amazed by the details. It would be wonderful to see in person.

French Kissed said...

Thank you Laura for putting the spotlight on this wonderful home it's on my list, too.
All the best,


Heather said...

This house looks fascinating. I will add it to my list of places to visit when I finally make my trip to Britain one day.

Ivy and Elephants said...

I am very intrigued by this post. The home is a work of art. I'd love to visit and see what "I" might see!
Creepily cool!
Thanks for sharing, I've added it to my list, too.