Dennis Severs' House


18 Folgate Street, London E1 6BX


020-7247 4013



Opening times:

1st and 3rd Sun of each month 14:00–17:00; Mon following the 1st and 3rd Sun 12:00–14:00; Also open on Mon evenings for candlelight viewings (booking essential). Telephone for additional Dec and early Jan openings, when the house is dressed for Christmas

How to get there:

Tube: Liverpool Street

Entry fee:

Admission charge

18 Folgate Street, a 1724 Georgian terrace house in the heart of historic Spitalfields, was created by Dennis Severs, an American designer and eccentric enthusiast for times past, who lived in the house with no electricity and few concessions to the modern world until his death in 1999. With period decoration and furnishings, many bought from local markets, the rooms are presented at different historical periods as they would have appeared when inhabited by successive generations of the fictional Jervis family. Historically, Spitalfields was an area dominated by Huguenot silk weavers and this was the Jervis family trade when they first occupied the house in the early 18th century. Visitors progress through the centuries from the Kitchen and Front Parlour, to the late 18th-century prosperity of the elegant Drawing Room and to the collapse of the silk industry and the cold, damp poverty of the Victorian attics. An evening candlelight tour is the most atmospheric. To best savour the series of tableaux vivants, visitors are asked to maintain silence (and can be asked to leave if they do not). Sounds and smells hint at the family near at hand. Floorboards creak, clocks tick, a bird flutters in its cage, carriages bowl past on the cobbled street outside, candles flicker and warm fires crackle and hiss. Throughout the house the emphasis is on evocation of atmosphere and mood rather than pinpoint historical accuracy, and a visit is an unforgettable experience.

The Huguenot Contribution
Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries large numbers of Huguenot (French Calvinist) refugees found a safe haven in England, exiles from religious persecution. Many came to escape the French Wars of Religion and the 1572 Massacre of St Bartholomew, and numbers peaked sharply following the 1685 Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which removed Protestant freedom of worship. Huguenot communities were established in East Anglia, Kent, and along the south coast, as well as London, which was the main draw. By 1700 Spitalfields, Leicester Fields and Soho had become distinct Huguenot areas. Spitalfields, being beyond the jurisdiction of the Weavers’ Company in the City, became increasingly identified with the silk industry.

Many Huguenots were prosperous international merchants who were able to escape with their goods intact. Their investments in London banking and insurance houses (several Huguenots were foundation subscribers to the Bank of England) contributed substantially to the capital’s wealth, whilst marriage alliances created powerful trading and financial dynasties. A great many more Huguenots were skilled craftsmen, whose expertise and innovatory techniques had a profound impact on London’s luxury trades. An early key figure was Daniel Marot, a pupil of Louis XIV’s maître ornemaniste, who was in England in the 1690s, working for William and Mary at Hampton Court. His interior designs, with grotesque ornament, mirrors, lacquer work, massed displays of porcelain and elaborate upholstery, provided rich sources for contemporary craftspeople. Important carvers and gilders included the Pelletier family, who provided furniture for Kensington Palace and Hampton Court, and a leading upholsterer was Francis Lapiere, based, with others, in Pall Mall. Many of London’s leading 18th-century goldsmiths, such as Paul Crespin, Paul de Lamerie and the Rococo master Nicholas Sprimont, were second-generation Huguenots, while native masters such as George Wickes and Thomas Heming were Huguenot-trained.

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Details below are taken from our Blue Guide Museums and Galleries of London.  This is a 2005 title, here generally updated for website address and opening times, with useful comments from some of the museums themselves.  More recent information is given in Emily Barber's magisterial new Blue Guide London, "Exceptional update to a classic and useful guide to this amazing city" (Amazon reader review).

FULL LISTING of CURRENT EXHIBITIONS in London from Apollo Magazine »

Emily Barber recommends five major London museums »

Please do share your comments and updates with us via the form below the entry for each museum.


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Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum
2 Willow Road (National Trust)
William Morris Gallery
Whitechapel Gallery
Westminster Abbey Museum
Wesley's Chapel
Wellington Arch (English Heritage)
Wallace Collection
Victoria & Albert Museum
Tower Bridge Exhibition
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South London Art Gallery
The Courtauld Institute of Art (Somerset House)
Sir John Soane's Museum
Shakespeare’s Globe
Serpentine Gallery
Science Museum
St Bride’s Crypt Museum
St Bartholomew’s Hospital Museum
Saatchi Gallery
Royal Society of Arts
The Royal Mews
Royal London Hospital Museum
The Faraday Museum
Royal Hospital Chelsea
RCM Museum of Music
Royal Academy of Music Museum
Royal Academy of Arts
Red House (National Trust)
Ranger’s House (English Heritage)
Ragged School Museum
The Queen’s Gallery
Prince Henry’s Room
The Photographers’ Gallery
Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology
Osterley Park (National Trust)
Orleans House Gallery
Old Operating Theatre, Museum and Herb Garret
Natural History Museum
National Portrait Gallery
National Gallery
National Army Museum
Musical Museum
World Rugby Museum
Museum of the Order of St John
Museum No. 1 (Royal Botanic Gardens)
Museum of London
Garden Museum
Museum in Docklands (Museum of London)
The Royal Observatory
The Queen's House
Old Royal Naval College
Marianne North Gallery (Royal Botanic Gardens)
Marble Hill House (English Heritage)
Mall Galleries
Lord’s Tour and MCC Museum
London Transport Museum
London Fire Brigade Museum
London Canal Museum
18 Stafford Terrace – The Sambourne Family Home
Library and Museum of Freemasonry
Leighton House
Kingston Museum
Kew Palace (Historic Royal Palaces)
London Museum of Water & Steam
Kenwood House (English Heritage)
Kensington Palace (Historic Royal Palaces)
Keats House
Jewish Museum
Jewel Tower (English Heritage)
Jerwood Space
Imperial War Museum
ICA Institute of Contemporary Arts
Hunterian Museum
Horniman Museum
HMS Belfast (Imperial War Museum)
Hayward Gallery
Handel House Museum
Hampton Court Palace (Historic Royal Palaces)
Ham House (National Trust)
Guildhall Art Gallery
Guards Museum
Grant Museum of Zoology & Comparative Anatomy
Geffrye Museum of the Home
Fulham Palace
Freud Museum
Foundling Museum
Forty Hall & Estate
Florence Nightingale Museum
Firepower: The Royal Artillery Museum
Fenton House (National Trust)
Fashion and Textile Museum
Fan Museum
Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art
Eltham Palace (English Heritage)
Dulwich Picture Gallery
Dr Johnson’s House
Dennis Severs' House
Danson House
Cutty Sark
Contemporary Applied Arts
Chiswick House (English Heritage)
Chelsea Physic Garden
Chartered Insurance Institute Museum
Charles Dickens Museum
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Camden Arts Centre
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