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Visit to Dennis Severs House

A time-capsule of entrepreneurship

Dennis Severs was the artist who created a spell-binding installation at 18 Folgate Street, Spitalfields. Each of the ten rooms spread over five floors encapsulates the intimate lives of a family of entrepreneurial Huguenot silk-weavers from 1724 to the dawn of the 20th Century. On May 24th members of the Guild and their guests were granted exclusive access to this meticulously crafted 18th Century time-capsule.

Under strict instruction from the curator, we were welcomed back in time and advised to visit the house in complete silence. After a few well-placed hushes, we soon got into the vibe and began to absorb the surroundings. Carefully placed placards helped to centre our focus while we soaked up the atmosphere, lit only by candlelight. The sights, smells and sounds helped the silent visitors to pass through the installation and genuinely feel as though we had stepped into the daily life of the Jarvis family, each room precisely positioned, lit and daubed with relevant sounds took us on a fascinating insight into how this family would have lived throughout the century. The ten rooms on our tour took us from virtual darkness, through neo-classicism, primitive states and Georgian grandeur.

Court Assistant Neil Fullbrook said: “It’s an entrepreneurial time capsule and some! It follows an intimate journey throughout the centuries of a family of Huguenot silk-weavers from 1724 to the dawn of the 20th Century. We followed their fortunes through the generations in this breathtaking multi-story town house close to Liverpool Street Station. The sights, smells and sounds of the house took their hold as the family (who had just fled) welcome you into their lives against the back drop of ticking clocks, horses hooves on cobbles and the quiet chatter of passers-by. This is well worth the visit”.

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