A love for interior design and the activity of fantasy house-hunting tend to go hand-in-hand, so when Cate emailed me over a link to this divine property in London, my eyes lit up with excitement. Tucked away in the East End is a house that teleports you back through time and into a land of mystery and magic!
The exterior, although bold in size, is a little misleading as it fails to prepare you for the strikingly curated and fabulously spooky interiors. After over a century of being uninhabited the building was bought by director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Tim Knox and landscape gardener Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, who masterfully filled the property with their budding collection of objet d’art and obscure artefacts assembled over the years from markets and auctions.
The house was originally built in 1741, and later restored in 1997 but preserved in all its historic detail and glory. It’s the kind of home that is so unlike anything else we tend to see on a day-to-day basis that there is an intriguingly creepy edge to it, like something out of a period drama, perfectly fitting for telling a ghost story or two. Knox and Longstaffe-Gowan have gloriously filled the house with the perfect balance of wackiness and wonderments. You can see how the years of curating museums has influenced the decorative of this house, and perhaps vice versa.
Each room is effortlessly complied of trinkets and treasures, integrated with the period features, it’s the optimum example of a ‘house with character’ that is so often a necessity among buyers, however I have a sneaking suspicion that this might be just a little too avant-garde for the average taste. The house has everything, drama, romance, madness, it makes you a little nervous, filling your stomach with butterflies.
A stairwell has been decorating with an over-flowing collection of mounted animal heads, probably causing you to duck and weave your way around like an obstacle-course. I’d imagine that this home isn’t an easy-living situation, but more like living-art, each room with its quirks and adventures. The contrast between the taxidermy heads and the Virgin Mary statue casually place in the corner of the landing creates a rather eclectic look. It seems like almost a super-stylish haunted house that you’d find at fairs and adventure parks, although instead of being scary it’s just ultimately alluring.
The main bathroom in Malplaquet House has to be my favourite room, the walls are littered with a collection of crucifixes that invokes a wild, fanatic response. The largest crucifix looms over the roll-top bath, giving off a sacrificial atmosphere, or as if a séance or exorcism is about to take place. Its finishing touches like this one that create the visually dramatic and flamboyant ambience of the home.
The house holds itself in a rare fashion, it makes no apologies for its appearance or personality, there is no attempt to ‘fit-in’, but there is also no sense of overkill or a try-hard attitude present either. The interiors are filled with an authentic disposition that comes from a collection of bizarre and bewildering artefacts that have been accumulated in a natural process.
Whoever takes on the challenge of being the building’s next occupants is perhaps not just buying a home, but is becoming the invited guest of a house that stands the test of time, and exudes character and brilliance.
The Malplaquet House is available to buy from Fyfe McDade