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House of the Past in London

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Time stood still in the house number 18 on Folgate street in London. There is silence behind the massive black wooden doors. And only the clock is ticking. Officially the artist Dennis Severs lived here. According to Severs’ version, he lived with several generations of the Jervis family – an imaginary family that he had instead of the real relatives.

House of the Past without Electricity in London

Dennis Severs' house in London

Dennis Severs’ house in London 

This 10 room house in Georgian style has captured the imagination of the young American, and he decided to restore the atmosphere of the past in the house.

Severs thought that interior-atmospheric installations would make visitors dive into the past where everything was true: the sounds, colors, and smells.

The journey inside the house of Severs starts with a dark cellar where the walls are built of masonry fragments of the St. Mary’s Church built in 1197. Severs considered a series of sensory and visual “states” of a visitor not only traveling through the centuries, but also a metaphor for human life in all its stages – from infancy to adulthood. The cellar was similar to the womb. A guest instinctively rushes to light – and comes into the cozy kitchen where he “becomes an infant”.

There is a breakfast room after the kitchen. This space is the time of “growing up”, when a person starts to think about life and to “choose sides”. In English history, according to Dennis, it corresponds to XVII century – the period of the Civil War, when each person had to choose his side, whether he is Tory or Whig, Catholic or Protestant, controlled by the mind or feeling. Breakfast room reflects this state with contrasting black and white decor.

“Smoking room” looks too calm – to the point of boredom. You want to escape from it, change the severity of classicism to something brighter. Therefore, children’s rooms are filled with toys and trinkets, fun, and exotic things.

Travel in the Severs’ house ends in a small living room. The last room in the house is painted and furnished in white color. The guest leaves, getting a unique sensory experience of “living in the past”.

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Alicia Kim

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