Two streets away, Liverpool Street Station swirls with grim-faced commuters; in the pub opposite, early drinkers dissect the working day over pints of lager, and a short stroll west, City traders still stare, transfixed, at banks of screens as share prices fluctuate.
But here down a cobbled street in East London, just yards away from the buzz and hum of the financial district, is Dennis Severs' House, a refuge of stillness and soft, dancing candlelight. We explore in silence, a little guiltily, as the occupants appear to have just popped out. Meals are left half eaten and uncleared, the smell of spices fills the air and a fire burns merrily in the grate.
Dennis Severs bought the Georgian townhouse at 18 Folgate Street in 1979 and set about transforming it into a glorious stage set. Each room, decorated in a different style, creates a narrative, a journey through time where you experience the sights, smells, sounds and changing fortunes of a family of weavers through the ages. If you’re a Dickens fan you’ll love the top floor, a spartan, tatty garret that’s straight out of Oliver Twist.
It’s hard to envisage a more immersive, atmospheric trip into the past. If you want to experience the East London of your imagination, this is the place to do it.
Dennis Severs’ House is open Monday and Wednesday evenings 6-9pm (last entry 8.15pm, £14 per person), Sunday afternoon 12-4pm (last entry 3.15pm, £10 per person) and on selected Monday lunchtimes 12-2pm (last entry 1.30pm, £7 per person). The nearest Tube is Liverpool Street Station.