spirit of the house

October 27, 2020

I stumbled upon images of the Spitalfields home of actor and teacher, Rodney Archer today and I was a little captivated. Textile patterns line the walls, and every room is chock full of bric-a-brac and antique furnishings. A lovely fireplace, painted gold and Prussian blue, sits in the living room. The mantle once belonged to Oscar Wilde, and Archer brought it for ten pounds from the workmen renovating Wilde’s former Tite Street home. Archer died in 2015, and I’d imagine the home and its contents have been sold on. In a short film, made in 2010, Archer speaks lovingly about the house and the neighbourhood. Of Spitalfields Archer said, “there are still people making a lot of noise, it’s still a bit rowdy and rough, which is what attracted me to the area in the first place. There are still prostitutes in alleyways and there are still alcoholics and glue sniffers. So despite all the fashion and the new British art that has moved in here it still has a bit of grittiness from the 19th century.” Of the condition of his early 18th Century home when he bought it, Archer says, “everything was painted turquoise blue and it was an Indian cab rank and there were pictures of Indian film stars all over the panelling.” For Archer, the home was an ever-evolving thing, a bit like a marriage. “The house has its own character, and I have my character. The house is saying, ‘I want to remain like this, but you can change it a little bit. But I still want my personality and you can still have yours.'” Have a gander around. There’s so much atmosphere in the photos, I can only imagine what it was to visit.


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