Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dennis Was Here

Truth be told, I was a little taken aback by Mick Pedroli's appearance, as Mr Nielson better known as Sid, and I ran towards 18 Folgate Street Spitalfields in a last hour bid to see Dennis Severs House!

There he was standing casually at the black front door, grinning happily at us in his shorts and t-shirt. And who could blame him on such a glorious summer's day. He wasn't to know that I was expecting a more Hogarthian character, someone at least in 18th Century garb to answer the door!

Within just a few minutes of his delightful introduction we were opening it, and stepping into the compelling world of the Jervis family.

'Ssshh' I whispered to Mr Nielson  as we stood on the landing, allowing our eyes to adjust to the candle-lit gloom, for the house is best seen and felt in silence.

Only then do you truly 'hear' it whisper to you all its secrets.

Dennis Severs wanted his guests to feel as if they had stepped into a painting with 'a time and life all of it's own.'

And he did everything he could to help that painting come to life.

In one room the clock ticks quietly, whilst voices can be heard murmuring from another. Sounds of street life seem to be coming from outside, along with the clatter of passing carriages.

Bowls of half eaten food hint at a meal interrupted, and crumpled sheets suggest a bed newly vacated.

Although you never get to see this family of Huguenot silk weavers, evidence of the rich fabric of their life begins to take root in your imagination.

It's just as Dennis wished it.

And although he passed away in 1999, he lives on here along with the enchantment he created.

Mick Pedroli sees to that.

Making sure everyday that the beds are crumpled just so, the flowers fresh, fires stoked, the unfinished rolls still crusty.

And then it is you, who steps into the quiet, into the warm smokey light to breathe into it new life.

Let the magic begin...

PS: The ultimate way to see the house in all its dramatic splendor is at night on a private tour. Go here now and Mick will arrange it.

xxx elle

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