Dennis Severs House

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One evening in December I booked a visit to Dennis Severs House and it was a very different and exciting historic house experience.

I arrived at 5pm, and you can reserve a space at any time from 5-8pm, although I think now that Christmas is over they are open on a Monday lunch time.

You need about 45 minutes for the visit, but it is very unusual at Christmas time, as you go round the house in silence with the other visitors, having had an introduction on the doorstep by the Christmas tree at the entrance. The house is not signed by any tourist sign, so ensure that you know where Folgate St is in the City of London area.

You go around by the light of candles and open fires, and it is a spiritual experience to see the cellar in the gloom, the kitchen warm and welcoming with food half eaten as if the owners, the imaginary Jervis family, have popped out for a walk. The eating parlour and house is all decorated for Christmas, with bedrooms upstairs, including a full chamber pot in a corner and the bed rumpled, with the black house cat contentedly watchful of the visitors. At the top of the house you enter the garratt, with imaginary glimpses through the ceiling to the sky, and clothes out to dry, and Christmas Carol being spoken, with the crutch of Tiny Tim by the fire.

The candle light gives a lovely warm glow, and the house seems very welcoming, yet mysterious with plenty of time for thought as you walk around in silence.

I recommend a visit, but you must book in advance for the Christmas visits as it gets booked up. I think you can just turn up for the Monday lunch times the rest of the year, but it is an experience that plays to all the senses, and a very different attraction.

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