A silent house stands empty in Spitalfields, the master and servants have just left the room, candles glimmer in the darkness.

You are welcomed to Messrs Dennis Severs home for a look around while they are out. But hush, for they might return shortly.

A knock on the door, and it is opened to allow curious visitors inside.

Downstairs, whispered advice suggests and head bowed against the slight creaking staircase, down into the bowels of the earth.

The servants have left, the loaf of sugar dominates the table. Dim lighting flickers over the china and just discarded papers. Peer at the ledger book, notice the kitchenware, absorb the atmosphere.

A black cat lounges on the chair, barely seen in the gloom, stretches and yawns then undisturbed by the unexpected visitors goes back to sleep.

Up the creaking stairs an usher directs you to the main living room. A fire crackles vibrantly. Curtains closed, the room is lit by light dancing around, momentarily touching paintings, drawings, decorations, before flitting away again.

In silence, the gesture is the only communication to your companion.

Stand back and soak in the atmosphere, don’t peer too deeply at the objects. You cant see the room looking closely at a cup on the table.

Upstairs, you pass into a different world, the private bedroom of the mistress. A grand bed, a table lain out with makeup about to be applied. The dress stands ready, but the occupant is missing.

Ascending higher, the staircase decoration becoming meaner to reflect the lower classes of those who trod its steps.

A gesture from the silent watchers on the landing, and a decaying room is presented. A former weavers occupation, in the corner, sits the memory of another weaver, of words, of narrative, of a christmas carol.

A side room, large enough for a family, as they were then. A small grate is contrasted with the vast fire several floors below. There for decorative light, here to feed a family.

No children on the lower stairs the sign warns. No guests without prior permission.

Admonished, the silent guests return from the land of the servants, descending to richer climes and space. A room of empire and war and loss ends the tour. The lingering memories those lost in the Great War, families diminished, but patriotism enlarged.

The usher opens the front door, and you step out into a strange world — a modern world of noise and dirty smells. Uttering first words in some time. It feels odd to speak once more.


Silent visits to Dennis Severs house take place every Monday and Wednesday in the evenings.


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One comment
  1. Spencer says:

    This is a truly magical place when you do find a quiet spot, trouble is that most of the people visiting when I went wouldn’t shut up! chatting and snapping pictures everywhere!
    We did get left alone in the attic and that was fantastic, then had a few minutes walking back through the house alone and then the true magic of the place envelopes you.

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