On the third day of the Winter Festival…

Spitalfields Music sent to me… a brief history of 20 Fournier Street, one of the houses from our In the House tour.

In the House is our series of musical tours that combine the extraordinary history of the local area with small recitals in the drawing rooms of beautifully restored Georgian houses. Read on to find on more about this wonderful building…


Fournier Street. Image: Alys Tomlinson.

20 Fournier Street
Brush makers, hatters, tailors, cutlers, victuallers, cabinet makers – all have been residents of 20 Fournier Street over the last 280 years or so. The house has been used by tobacco manufacturers, handbag makers, sportswear and coat manufacturers and furriers – and in between – a Wesleyan Chapel and Rectory. It has been home to Louis de Chaumette, minister to the Threadneedle Street and Fournier Street French Churches, and to countless Huguenots, Scot, Irish and  English families as well as unknown residents from many countries. For two families the house was both home and workplace  – Lazarus Walter, a tailor who came from Bavaria, aged 33, in 1843 and brought up his large family here and Emanuel Symons, in 1897, and stayed until 1941 when a bomb damaged the party wall with the neighbouring property and he was forced to leave. The last commercial use was in 1968 when a clothing factory moved to Brentwood.

Philip Jebb, who was renowned for his specialisation in Georgian architecture  supervised the renovation of No. 20 and created a beautifully home in 1984. Whilst removing centuries of wallpaper from the drawing room, he came across one patterned area closest to the wattle and daub wall. It featured a  large rose. Carefully this fragment was steamed removed, re-blocked and now a replica of the original wallpaper is stretched on hessian frames over the original wall panels. It will be in this room where the musician will be performing. From its wig cupboard, panelling, squeaky floor boards, sloping floors, shutters with the original hinges and vaults to the stunning light in the Silk Weaver Attic – the house retains its character. It is quite easy to imaging the noise of the looms, the shouts of the weaver as he directs the drawboy to lift the warp in order to create the flowered silks that became the most treasured possession in many families – often handed down to the subsequent generations – both in this country and the Colonies.

Behind the house is a large walled sun-trapped patio where peaches, cherries, grapes, figs, mulberries grow and which the  black birds, chaffinches, wrens and robins enjoy.


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