Philobiblon: The book of the most fascinating house in London

Monday, January 02, 2006

The book of the most fascinating house in London

Perhaps the most magical address in London is 18 Folgate Street in Spitalfields, otherwise known as Dennis Severs' House. I wrote a piece about its Christmas display for The Times several years ago (unfortunately not now available free online), but I hope to write again about its "everyday" face soon.

In the meantime, I've been reading Severs' own description of it and its (re)creation as a piece of living history, simply titled 18 Folgate Street. The book is as delightfully nutty and eccentric as the house in the flesh. (Although I have to confess I'm not entirely convinced by his naive-style collages.)

Yet it does explain the house very well. Indeed if I had to sum it up on one phrase it is in his definition of atmosphere as "the space between things. He created what might be called an imaginary theatre display - a whole family lives - eats, sleeps and breathes - in the house, but they've always just left the room before you entered - leaving a scent, a half-eaten apple, or other similar signs of their presence. READ MORE

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