December 2017

The Huguenots – French Protestants – were the country’s first refugees, escaping religious persecution in Catholic France in 1685.

Many of them found their way to pockets of London, including Spitalfields in Shoreditch where they were able to practice their faith in peace. Many had nothing with them when they arrived other than their enterprise, industry and talent. Their arrival helped transform the textile industry, specifically the silk weaving industry, and Dennis Severs' House on Folgate Street stands as an imaginarium of the work of a Huguenot family who occupied the house in a bygone era.

A still-life drama has been created as a historical reimagination of what life would have been like inside a typical east London home of Huguenot silk weavers; it is a unique form of pageantry and theatre. This Grade II listed townhouse has 10 rooms, each themed to represent snapshots of the area from 1724-1914 as a collection of atmospheres; moods that harbour the light and spirit of family life. Each room is lit by fire and candlelight and is currently trapped in a festive time capsule, with each room adorned with Christmas decorations.

Moving between each room, the styles from the Georgian Regency to the Industrial Victorian era are evident – floral prints, intricately upholstered mahogany furniture, Iznik pottery, damask notebooks, marble busts, fine china, vintage books and tapestries all blend together to create a cosy ambience.

This highly evocative and captivating home is a novel way to experience London from a lost age – the interiors aren’t too bad either. 

The Christmas edition of Dennis Severs' House will be open until 4th January 2018. Normal displays will resume after this date.
Dennis Severs' House
18 Folgate Street
All photography © Roelof Bakker