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What Is Dennis Severs' House?

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  • Written By: B. Turner
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2016
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Dennis Severs' House is a quirky museum located in the Spitalfield area of London. The home is situated at 18 Folgate Street in London's East end, an area with a bohemian flair that has long been favored by the artistic crowd. It was inhabited by artist Dennis Severs from 1979 to 1999, and is now owned and managed by the Spitalfield Trust. Dennis Severs' House is a unique attraction for London tourists because it is part historical site, park work of art. The house is primarily known for its decor, as each of the ten rooms is decorated in a different historical style.

California artist Dennis Severs moved into the house at 18 Folgate Street in 1979. He soon set about transforming the property into a living work of art, or theater piece. Severs remodeled each room of the home using a different historical style, with decor ranging from 1724 to 1914. He also spun a story to go along with the decor. According to stories told by Severs, the house is owned and lived in by the Jervis clan, a fictional family of weavers from France.

During his lifetime, Severs allowed guests to tour his home, and enjoy his artistic masterpiece. Tours started in the basement before proceeding to the kitchen, dining room, and smoking room. Afterwards, guests headed upstairs to a few the bedrooms in the five-story home.

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Since his death, the Spitalfield Trust continues to run tours of Dennis Severs' House. All visitors are led by a guide through the property. Dennis Severs' House has a strict policy that visitors may not talk inside the house, and are expected to remain completely silent. This policy of silence was enacted because Severs wanted visitors to use all five senses to experience the house, instead of just relying on site. The no-talking rule generally means children are not permitted to visit.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Dennis Severs' House is that it was designed using a Marie Celeste approach. In accordance with this artistic design style, the home is crafted to appear as though people are still living in it, and they have left the home just minutes before. Dennis Severs' House achieves this look by leaving half-eaten food on the table, a fire burning in the hearth, and recorded sounds in each room. Guests must make their way by candlelight, as the house has no electricity to light the way.

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