The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

December 27, 2013

December 27, 1999

His home was at 18 Folgate Street, London, England, and now his home is a museum, His name was Dennis Severs (November 16, 1948 to December 27, 1999). Severs's teen-age infatuation with BBC costume dramas, resulted in his leaving Escondido California 5 days after graduating from high school, for London. This information is from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. In London he bought an old stone structure and created a home, shared with his partner, who was a potter. Their home was designed as a museum of an older London, and there was a fee for tours. According to The Rough Guide to London (Rob Humphreys, 2010) 

He created a theatrical experience which he described as 'passing through a frame into a painting.'. The house is entirely candle-lit and log-fired and decked out as it would have been two hundred years ago." This impression is created of an immediacy wherein the "house cat still prowls, there's the smell of food, and the sound of horses hooves on the cobblestones outside" when the museum is open. 

(Back to the ODNB) Dennis Severs: 

used each of Folgate Street's ten rooms to re-create and instil a moment from the family's history-from their arrival from France in 1688 to their departure shortly after the outbreak of the First World War. Severs's work, which was 'to be one room at a time, finished to perfection' ... began in the cellar and on completion led visitors into, among others, Isaac Gervais's dining room (1724), Edward Jervis's smoking room (1760), William Jervis's attic chamber (1824), and the Jervis sisters' parlour of 1915. In each room Severs created the impression that members of his family had just left and were now elsewhere in the house.
.... The house motto was 'You either see it or you don't', and those who did not-by failing to participate, by asking practical questions, or by raising doubts over historical accuracy-could be thrown out, along with their entrance fee. The historian.... Raphael Samuel thought the house a 'brilliant success' as 'a provocation to a historical engagement with the arts', albeit one created around a 'fanciful' historical narrative.

18 Folgate Street is maintained by a trust as a museum to this day.

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