Last month, I spent a few days in London to celebrate a friend’s birthday so I jumped on the opportunity to cross off a few places on my forever growing ‘To-Visit-in-London’ list. I ended up loving all of these so I think they deserve a full post in their own right but I wanted to share a quick summary of what I’ve been up to these few days in my favourite city with you first.
Dennis Severs House
First on my list was actually a recommendation from my friend I was staying with. I wasn’t sure I had grasped what exactly was this place so I was mighty intrigued when I queued up on the pavement to get into the house. A man opened the door and told us that ‘we won’t meet the family today but we will hear them’. We were also asked to remain silent during the visit. Sounds pretty mysterious, eh?
Dennis Severs was an artist who decided to recreate the living conditions of a fictitious 18th century Huguenot family in the silk weaving business, the Jervis, in his own house. Stepping into his abode is like diving into an old painting, as if you just disturbed the occupants. Signs that they were just there a second ago are left around the house: half drunk cups of tea, warm cakes, a knocked off chair, even a full chamber pot. At first I wasn’t sure what to make of it, I felt a bit like an elephant in a porcelain shop but by the time my eyes got used to the candle light, I started enjoying my surroundings and soak in the dusty atmosphere, high on the sweet smell of winter spice and pinewood. The whole house had been decorated for the festive period: Christmas pudding in the kitchen, presents on a bed, a beautiful tree and bowls holding cinnamon sticks and orange peels scattered here and there. It made the place even more eerie and magical (the decorations will be up until January 5th).
18 Folgate Street
I’m pretty sure I was under a curse that was stopping me from visiting the V&A. Something would always get in the way every time I had planned to go there. I’m glad that the spell finally lifted as I enjoyed roaming the numerous halls of the museum filled with treasures, from photography to fashion design. I only managed to cover a small fraction of the space so another visit is definitely in order, now I’m curse-free. Also, I wouldn’t mind going back to their shop to stock up on more pretty postcards!
Maybe you’ll have noticed from my posts but I love a good reconstitution of a period room. The Geffrye Museum is just that, you witness the changes of 4 centuries in English homes, through the furniture and habits of their occupants. The Christmas Past exhibition (ends on January 4th) gave a festive glimpse into the evolution of English traditions through time.
136 Kingsland Road
This creepy little place can be found in the basement of a pub in Hackney. Walking down a spiral staircase, you’ll be met with glass windows holding the weirdest combination of objects. I thought the picture above was quite representative of that combination. Of course there are the expected stuffed animals and skelettons but they live among a collection of naughty paraphernalia, mixed with the odd toy. I was immediately enraptured with the place when my eyes met those of Dora the Explorer standing next to a stuffed two-headed lamb.
11 Mare Street