Culture

575 Wandsworth Road

575 Wandsworth Road, London SW8 3JD T: 020 7720 9459 Call 0844 249 1895 or book online www.nationaltrust.org.uk/575-wandsworth-road/

The house at 575 Wandsworth Road was formerly the inconspicuous home of expatriate Kenyan poet, novelist, philosopher of mathematics and civil servant Khadambi Asalache. Fetching as the two-up, two-down 19th century Regency building in London’s southwest was, it had an endemic damp problem spreading along the inside of one wall, thanks to the laundromat next door. Asalache failed to notice the fallout of this until he was happily ensconced in his new abode, but once he did he employed a resourcefulness that resulted in today’s fascinating museum. Covering the affected wall with recycled pine wood to try and stem and conceal the damp, he then covered this up with a piece of fretwork, which in turn he hand-carved with subtle yet beautiful arrowhead designs. However, once he had finished concealing the blighted wall, he found he couldn’t stop. Asalache simply carried on carving, using a drill, a plaster saw and planks reclaimed from skips, for the rest of his life, and becoming increasingly inventive and refined in his endeavours. He also painted decorative symbols and patterns directly onto the remaining walls, doors and floors of the house, rendering it one of the most unique and inspiring in London.

Asalache died in 2006 and the National Trust took on the challenge of opening up his work of art to the public, following two years of work to underpin the plaster ceilings, uproot (somewhat sadly) a mimosa tree, catalogue all 2000 objects of artistic interest that they discovered inside and, of course, try to tackle that endemic damp.  Once the restoration process was complete, every single piece of hand-crafted fretwork was replaced exactly as it had been, on every wall, floor, cupboard, light fixture, door and shelf - so it’s a good thing the house itself is on the minuscule side. Fitting just six visitors at a time, it’s best to book in advance so everyone is guaranteed to delight in the people, animals, flowers and trees adorning every conceivable spot.

The house at 575 Wandsworth Road was formerly the inconspicuous home of expatriate Kenyan poet, novelist, philosopher of mathematics and civil servant Khadambi Asalache. Fetching as the two-up, two-down 19th century Regency building in London’s southwest was, it had an endemic damp problem spreading along the inside of one wall, thanks to the laundromat next door. Asalache failed to notice the fallout of this until he was happily ensconced in his new abode, but once he did he employed a resourcefulness that resulted in today’s fascinating museum. Covering the affected wall with recycled pine wood to try and stem and conceal the damp, he then covered this up with a piece of fretwork, which in turn he hand-carved with subtle yet beautiful arrowhead designs. However, once he had finished concealing the blighted wall, he found he couldn’t stop. Asalache simply carried on carving, using a drill, a plaster saw and planks reclaimed from skips, for the rest of his life, and becoming increasingly inventive and refined in his endeavours. He also painted decorative symbols and patterns directly onto the remaining walls, doors and floors of the house, rendering it one of the most unique and inspiring in London.

Asalache died in 2006 and the National Trust took on the challenge of opening up his work of art to the public, following two years of work to underpin the plaster ceilings, uproot (somewhat sadly) a mimosa tree, catalogue all 2000 objects of artistic interest that they discovered inside and, of course, try to tackle that endemic damp.  Once the restoration process was complete, every single piece of hand-crafted fretwork was replaced exactly as it had been, on every wall, floor, cupboard, light fixture, door and shelf - so it’s a good thing the house itself is on the minuscule side. Fitting just six visitors at a time, it’s best to book in advance so everyone is guaranteed to delight in the people, animals, flowers and trees adorning every conceivable spot.

For bookings that require more than 1 room please contact the hotel directly

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