He saw the 1720s house as an opportunity to experience life before electricity and the other modern conveniences we take for granted today.
"Eccentric American artist roughs it in run-down house in East End."
But Dennis Severs wanted to share that long ago time with the rest of us.
Toward that end, he studied paintings from the 1700s at the National Portrait Gallery, reasoning them to be the 18th century equivalent of color photographs of the period.
He then used that palette in the ten rooms of 18 Folgate to recreate how they might've looked when an imaginary family of Huguenot weavers inhabited them.
one with a time and a life of its own."
He did not envision the house as a living history museum, but as a "collection of atmospheres", an opportunity for visitors to experience rooms whose inhabitants have just stepped out for a moment. A half-eaten meal is on the dining room table, a fire burns in each of the fireplaces, family members can be heard talking in the hallway or the next room.
To get the full effect, visitors are instructed to remain silent during the tour, to use more than just their eyes to feel the rooms rather than simply "see" them.
It won't be quite the same as visiting in person, but I highly recommend the enchanting virtual tour of Dennis Severs' House.
Be sure your speakers are on, as it begins with the clip-clop of passing horses outside the front door and the ringing bells of a nearby church. Hit "Enter" and you'll hear the aforementioned snippets of conversation as well as footsteps of family members. After the virtual-audio tour, click on "The Plot" for information about each room.
Two articles by people who knew him:
Edward Greenfield's A Neighbor's Recollections
Dennis Severs, by The Guardian's Gavin Stamp
See also Dennis Severs' House at Wikipedia
btw, it was recently brought to my attention by Mindfield of Hubpages that "Spital" is short for hospital. Thanks, Meg!
Have a great day everyone!