Saturday, 17 September 2011

When Spitalfields was the centre of a real living weaving industry, the pale weavers were to be seen with their butterfly nets in all the woods and copses near London, seeking inspiration and suggestion in the beauty of captured insects no less than in that of the flowers on which they fed.

It is Open House weekend, with more than 50 pages of architectural visits to choose from. Last night there was some lamenting that some tours needed to be pre-booked.
I am not a pre-booking kind of person. I am a running out of the house at the last minute person, sometimes so last minute that I miss the whole event.
Full of good intentions, I run out of the house only two hours behind schedule.
I get distracted by this church because you can't walk past a Hawksmoor church without going in.
I get distracted again as I grab a rare chance to see inside one of the Georgian silk weavers' houses on Fournier Street - pure luck, because it's nothing to do with Open House - and I'm especially thrilled to see the kitchen with its stone sink and the tiny courtyard garden. This is what it looks like outside. It's a gallery now - I don't ever remember seeing it open before - and, to my delight, they're showing The Map of Spitalfields Life devised by a clever map-maker in collusion with the anonymous author of this endlessly fascinating blog.
Of course, I'm even more fascinated by the house next door because it's unattainable and I'm very envious of Jane's chance to see the view from its roof garden.
But what I've really come to see is another house that's rarely open. A house that has been described as our Ellis Island, a palimpsest of layer upon layer of history, Jewish over Huguenot, a synagogue built over the garden of a weaver's house that still has its bobbin sign hanging outside.
Then I amble down Brick Lane, with a bag of samosas for lunch, getting distracted by vintage shops selling hats out of Brief Encounter and, of course, I have to admire the wild life.
And the afternoon has ticked away before I make it as far as this exhibition.
Which was actually only number two on my Open House list of places to go.
Never mind. I did better than last year.

1 comment:

dovegreyreader said...

Mary is that you?? Have I found you at last??
The one who won the quiz and I have just sent a book to??
I'm going to look daft if it's not!