Dennis Severs' House

Top choice historic building in Clerkenwell, Shoreditch & Spitalfields

This extraordinary Georgian house is set up as if its occupants – a family of Huguenot silk weavers – have just walked out the door. Each of the 10 rooms is stuffed with the minutiae of everyday life from centuries past: half-drunk cups of tea, emptied but gleaming wet oyster shells and, in perhaps unnecessary attention to detail, a used chamber pot by the bed. It's more an immersive experience than a traditional museum; explorations of the house are conducted in silence.

The concept of this 'still-life drama' was created by the late American artist Dennis Severs, who bought the house in 1979 but lived in it the way its original 18th-century occupants might have done. Severs invented the story of the Jervis family who lived at the house from 1725 to 1919, which is weaved through the few placards hidden around the rooms. The house motto of 'you either see it, or you don't' means that some visitors are bound to step out of this time machine wondering what just happened.

Night-time sessions are illuminated solely by candlelight and kerosene lamps and are particularly atmospheric; book online in advance. Visits take around 45 minutes. Photography is not allowed, and there are no toilets on the premises.


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