Twelve Days of Christmas London Style – Day 2

I love London. Even though I lived there for a year, and visit as often as I can, I never get bored with it. There are always new and surprising places to discover.

dennis servers

Dennis Severs House. 18 Folgate Street. Spitalfields. London.

The Dennis Severs House, at 18 Folgate Street in Spitalfields, is of those gems.

Dennis Severs (1948-1999) an American artist, bought a very run-down Georgian House in the then unfashionable and equal run-down area of Spitalfields in 1979 and turned it into both his home and a piece of still-life drama.

Depicting the home of a fictional family of silk weavers from the late 18th century through to the Victorian age, the house is not a museum. Some articles are historically accurate, but the atmosphere Severs has created is a sense of crossing a threshold into a living past.

Visiting the ten rooms – in silence – it’s as though the family has just left and you explore their life using all five senses.  Perhaps most potent is the sense of smell: warm scones freshly baked in the cellar kitchen; greenery from the Christmas tree in the parlour; coal fires burning in the grate; perfume in the upstairs bedroom. And there’s more – much more: the steady wheeze of the grandfather clock; a bird chirping outside; how dim the rooms are even with candles blazing; the unevenness of the wooden floors.

But it’s the little details that brings their story to life. Being a rather messy person myself – who is forever searching for things I’ve mislaid – I sympathized with the lady of the house who had removed her ear-rings and left them beside her teacup in the parlour. I can just imagine her frustration next morning trying to find them, in the same way I am constantly  on the search for my discarded glasses.

I was unable to take photographs inside, so please check out the link below for more details, or view the interview below from 1997, with Dennis Severs himself, which I found on Youtube.

And definitely consider adding a visit to The Dennis Severs House to your itinerary on your next visit to London.

Getting there: Tube or bus to Liverpool Street Station.  It’s only a 5 minute walk from there.

Website: http://www.dennissevershouse.co.uk

Further Reading: 18 Folgate Street. The History.

Dennis Severs Website

 

 

London in Calgary, Alberta – Challenge 6

Having lived in, and visited, London often, I tend to seek out lesser known places to visit when I go there on holiday. One place I was really keen to see this year was The Dennis Severs House in Spitalfields, particularly as in the month of December it is ‘dressed’ for Christmas.

As you can see from the video, it’s not a true historical home, but is there a house in Calgary that might offer something of a similar experience? An individual home ‘dressed’ for a previous time?

Built in 1891, by  Senator James Lougheed, and originally named Beaulieu, The Lougheed House fit the bill.

EXTERIOR

When The Lougheed House was first built, Calgary’s population was only 4,000, and the house sat on bald prairie in its own 2.8 acres. Now, situated on 14th Ave SW, it is in the heart of downtown.

During its early years, the house played host to the great and the good, with one of the daughters dancing with Edward, Prince of Wales, on his visit to Western Canada in 1919.

HALLWAYBEDROOM

After Lougheed died, the house had to be sold. For a while it acted as a school, then housed female personnel of the Canadian Army during the Second World War. Post-war it became the headquarters for the Red Cross in Calgary, the drawing room where Senator Lougheed had worked on his government papers and entertained politicians now becoming the waiting room for blood donors.

FIREPLACE

Finally, in 2000, it was restored to its former glory and is now a museum and restaurant, open daily from Wednesday through Sunday. I can’t believe I’ve lived in this city for almost 30 years and have never visited it.  It’s truly a wee gem.