Lost Time: Doreen Fletcher’s East End 1983 – 2003

Doreen Fletcher arrived in the East End of London in the early 1980s and was immediately aware that the dilapidated buildings and small businesses in the streets around her were about to disappear. The sense of community in the area reminded her of her Midlands childhood and inspired by the excitement of being somewhere new, she started a series of paintings of the East End that continued for the next twenty years.

Aware that she was documenting an urban landscape that would be lost forever, she regularly contacted galleries and magazines to promote not only her paintings, but also an awareness of what was happening in the East End. Their negative response reflected the wider attitude at the time: a complete lack of interest. It was the culmination of centuries of neglect of an area that had long been regarded as a vast slum and dispirited by the rejections and the overwhelming changes to the area, Doreen stopped painting.

As perceptions have changed and we have come to realise what has been lost, Doreen’s work can now be seen as a poignant record of the time at which so much of the legacy of the East End disappeared. It is not only a record of the built environment of the 19th century and earlier, but also of a community that had survived the bombs of the Second World War. This community was in many ways the last vestiges of a late 19th century, tight knit society, in which life revolved around the streets of one’s birth and around family and friends living nearby.

These paintings depict a lost time that has gone and cannot be recovered, but perhaps this exhibition will encourage us to make up for that lost time and demand a new way of looking at future development in our cities, before it really is too late.

Garden Extracts Programme

Garden Extracts Programme at Chelsea Fringe

In association with this year’s Chelsea Fringe, Town House is collaborating with a number of artisans to create an exciting programme of events called “Garden Extracts”.

The programme yields an assortment of sensory experiences, which involve everything from talks on perfume-making to floral infused cakes, from ceramic workshops to a display of 18th century botanical illustrations. All the events are listed below. Numbers are limited for workshop and talks, so booking is advised.

Aside from the ticketed events, throughout two weeks Town House will be serving confectionary infused with a range of flora, including geranium, lavender and rose; together with an exhibition in our courtyard gallery of 18th century botanical illustrations.

Ceramic Workshop – “The Potting Shed”

Sat 21st & Sun 22nd May 2016
10am-5pm 45-minute sessions (£10 per person)
Location: Town House 5 Fournier Street, E1 6QE
Book now via Eventbrite – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/potting-shed-tickets-24488897953

Members of the public are invited to join ceramic artists Fliff Carr and Matilda Moreton, making unique floral decorated plates to celebrate the joy of early summer flowers.

Inspired by a collection of 18th century botanical prints hung in the gallery of Townhouse and using flowers and leaves from selected plants, learn how to create impressions in clay and apply colour with decorating slips. As well as using plants, a variety of textured floral fabrics, lace and rubber stamps will be available for use in decoration. Add words with letter stamps.

Express your creativity by adding 3-dimensional or printed features – add sculpted flowers or insects, use paper stencils or resist.

Make a garden within a plate!

Talk – Stephen Nelson “Perfume in Georgian London”

Tue 31st May 2016 @ 2.30pm (free admission)
Town House 5 Fournier Street, E1 6QE
To book a place – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/perfume-in-georgian-london-talk-by-stephen-nelson-tickets-24493256991

Talk – Stephen Nelson “19th Century English Scent”

Wed 1st June 2016 @ 2.30pm (free admission)
Town House 5 Fournier Street, E1 6QE
To book a place – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/19th-century-english-scent-talk-by-stephen-nelson-tickets-24493373339

Talk – Stephen Nelson “The Scented Room”

Thu 2nd June 2016 @ 2.30pm (free admission)
Town House 5 Fournier Street, E1 6QE
To book a place – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-scented-room-talk-by-stephen-nelson-tickets-24493909944

Stephen Nelson is a plantsman and perfumer who specialises in re-creating historic fragrances. As part of the Chelsea Fringe, Townhouse will host three talks by Stephen Nelson, centred around the English garden and its direct link to perfume over the past four centuries.

Stephen has worked extensively within horticulture and his nursery, Darasina breeds a range of plants that include pinks, lilacs and lavender, some of which have been featured in planting schemed at the Chelsea Flower Show. He also cultivates many of the perfume source ingredients for use in his historical re-creations: Damask roses, patchouli, orris, verbena, lavender and many more.

Through archival search of old recipes he has re-created compositions that by reason of expense or restricted by regulation or ethical consideration might never see the light of day; those include animal essences civet and ambergris or the use of ingredients such as lemon verbena, gum storax or oakmoss in contact perfumes.

“Each of these scented works comes with its own story: how they were made; where the ingredients were sourced and traded; how a fashion developed and so on… each one a potted social and cultural history”.

He has worked with designers, artists and many organisations including the National Trust and the V & A. Over the years, Stephen has been commissioned to create everything from resinous pomander beads to perfumed leather from the 16th century, from an 18th century spicy pot pourri to a handkerschief scent from the 19th century.

Talk – Lizzie Ostrom “20th Century Perfume and the Simulation of Nature”

Sunday 5th June 2016 @ 2.30pm (free admission)
Town House 5 Fournier Street, E1 6QE
To book a place – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/20th-century-perfume-and-the-simulation-of-nature-talk-by-lizzie-ostrom-tickets-24513591813

Lifelong fragrance fan Lizzie Ostrom, aka Odette Toilette has for the past six years been changing the way we think about scent through her cult events. Ranging from sniffable history talks to perfumed tours of art galleries, Lizzie brings an intelligence and sense of fun to discovering the sense of smell. As part of the Chelsea Fringe, Lizzie Ostrom will be giving a talk on 20th century perfume and the simulation of nature.

Lizzie has created experiences for brands including Ruinart Champagne, Fornasetti, Aesop, COS, and Peroni.  She’s spoken at cultural institutions including a Greek perfume symposium at The British Museum and the Scent of Space with the Royal Observatory Greenwich, as well as events with The Wellcome Collection, The Natural History Museum, Somerset House, and the Museum of London. Last summer she was one of the team for the Tate Sensorium, which invited visitors to taste, smell, touch and hear artworks in a dedicated exhibition. Lizzie frequently appears in broadcast media as a commentator on the industry. She writes a monthly perfume column for The Pool and is the author of the critically-acclaimed ‘Perfume: Century of Scents’, which will be available to purchase from Town House in June.

A Throw of the Dice

A little over a year ago I stood before Picasso’s ‘Desmoiselles d’Avignon’ in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and for the first time I got a slight sense of what it might have been like to be one of the first to see that painting a hundred years ago. With its complete negation of classicism and of the decorative in painting, in its brutality and aggression it baffled the first of his friends to see it and received a hostile reception from the Parisian public when it was first exhibited in 1916. Picasso himself continued to receive a hostile reception in Britain until after the Second World War. It is easy for us to see with hindsight the impact this painting had on 20th century art, to see it as the beginning of modernism, yet at the time whether loved or loathed, it would probably have been regarded by most as unimportant, and Cubism as a short lived aberration.

The impact of the painting stayed with me and when I bought a cubist paper collage a few months later, indistinctly signed, but British and dating from just before the First World War, I started to look for the influence of Cubism in some of the other paintings by British artists I had been putting aside for exhibitions. During a long period of thinking and reading it eventually became clear that the thread I was following was not the influence of Cubism, but of Stéphane Mallarmé (1842 – 1898), the French poet whose ideas inspired Cubism, Futurism, Dadaism and Surrealism in France and Europe. There was (almost) no equivalent British ‘-ism’ however, despite the complex network of connections, which existed between London and Paris from the 19th century through to the 1930s.townHouseThrowOfTheDiceFlyer01.indd

During this period Paris was still the place to go for artistic training and after the First World War was a cheap place to live, with a thriving artistic community. George Bissill was a young miner until after the First World War when he studied art in Nottingham, but as soon as he had his first successful exhibition in London in 1925, he left to spend some time in Paris. Many British artists had visited Paris and knew Picasso and the Paris avant-garde well, yet their ideas apparently failed to take hold. In a modest way this exhibition is an exploration of that theme until around the time of the Second World War.

I also realised during the course of putting this exhibition together, that Mallarmé’s ideas had a strong personal resonance for me as a dealer and collector (most works in the exhibition are for sale, but not quite all). The idea that the juxtaposition of two things each with their own associations for the audience can produce a new, chance idea is as relevant for curators, dealers and collectors as it is for poets, writers and artists. Hence the title for the exhibition is taken from the central idea of Mallarmé’s last great poem: ‘all thought is a throw of the dice’.

The Huguenot Map of Spitalfields for Sale

Many visitors in search of their Huguenot ancestors visit us at Town House to visit one of the early 18th century Spitalfields buildings and to look at its atmospheric panelled interior. Inspired by the tales of the search for your ancestors, I decided to commission a map of the area on which you could all pin your forebears, placing them in context and showing the impact Huguenot immigrants had on late 17th and early 18th century Spitalfields.

The map drawn by the artist Adam Dant and based on the mid 18th century map of Spitalfields by Roque, has drawn an overwhelming response from all over the world and around 350 names and addresses have been added. Stanley Rondeau unveiled the finished 1.5 x 2.5m map at Town House on the17th June in the presence of many Huguenot descendants of those on the map and a signed edition of 200 prints is now available for sale for £80 plus postage and packaging.

Huguenot Map of Spitalfields

Huguenot Map of Spitalfields drawn by Adam Dant

Measuring 111cm x 72cm, it is printed on 300 gsm textured, soft white, Somerset paper made at St Cuthbert’s Mill in Wells, which has, very appropriately, been making paper there since the 1700s. The paper is mould-made of 100% cotton rag to exacting specifications and is hand inspected during manufacture. It is a strong, acid-free paper with a very long life making it ideal for framing a fascinating map of Huguenot Spitalfields that can be handed on to future generations.

United Kingdom.  £91.99 inc Postage & Packaging


Rest of the World. £99.99 inc Postage & Packaging


All payments are handled securely by PayPal.

If you have any questions or problems with your purchase, then please contact us.

A Slice of Spitalfields

When David Milne introduced me to Ben Rea and showed me the painted section he had done of Dennis Severs’ house my immediate reaction was ‘I want one of my building!’ Ben trained as an architect and is about to take up a post with Haworth Tompkins, the Stirling Prize winning architects, but it is his artistic ability and sense of humour in his work that appealed to me.


Ben calls his house-sections ‘Living Sections’ and in them he manages to combine a measured section of the building with both elements of its past and its current life, but with his wonderful humour evident in the detail. His sections of Dennis Sever’s house and Town House will be exhibited here in the gallery from 12th June to 12th July, together with some of his preparatory sketches, so come and have a look. Further examples of his work can be found at benrealivingsections.comsliceOfSpitalfieldsPosterA3-04.indd

The Huguenot Map of Spitalfields

Many visitors in search of their Huguenot ancestors visit Town House to look at its atmospheric 1720’s panelled interior. Inspired by the tales of the search for your ancestors, I decided to commission a map of the area on which you could all pin your forebears, placing them in context and showing the impact Huguenot immigrants had on late 17th and early 18th century Spitalfields.


The map by Adam Dant based on the mid 18th century map of Spitalfields by Roque, has drawn an overwhelming response from all over the world and names of over 300 Huguenots have been added. The finished 1.5 x 2.5m map will be unveiled at Town House on the 17th June in the presence of as many of the descendants as we can gather together and space will permit. It will be a part of ‘Huguenot Summer’, http://www.huguenotsofspitalfields.org a wide-ranging series of events and talks around the country celebrating the people, places and legacy of the Huguenots


Although three centuries have passed, the story of these people who were expelled from France for their religion, but who found a home here still resonates with their descendants today. It demonstrates the historic significance Spitalfields possesses for Londoners at a time when it is experiencing renewed threat from developers in Norton Folgate and elsewhere.


If you pinned your ancestors on the map and would like to be present at the unveiling on the 17th June please email fiona@townhousewindow.com.


Copies suitable for framing will be available for sale on the evening and afterwards in the shop and on the website20140830_Huguenot_map_complete_002_Patricia_Niven

The Mind of the Artist

Beryl Touchard Colour FieldIt was almost four years ago that I held my first art exhibition here ‘Spirit of Place’ by a group of students in their final year at the Sir John Cass School at London Metropolitan University. It was a wide range of work spanning photography, large pieces of abstract art through to exquisite jewel like watercolours. The last were by Beryl Touchard and talking to her one day she showed me her sketchbooks including some colour fields, which I absolutely loved for their spontaneous intensity of colour. I was struck too by her surprise at my liking them: to her they were just preparatory colour fields, of no interest outside their usefulness in her work. I just wanted to buy one, frame it and put it on the wall.

About a month later I visited an auction to view a painting I had seen in the catalogue and which I thought might be of interest. Sadly it was not, but rather than have a wasted journey I looked round the rest of the sale including some sketches and watercolours in folios. To my surprise one included a design by Duncan Grant for a plate for the Festival of Britain and I was happy to be able to buy the folio in the sale.

Looking through that folio of watercolours and sketches made me realise that in general, works on paper reveal the mind of the artist in their immediacy with which they are committed to paper much more than say an oil painting, a much more forgiving medium that can be worked and re-worked over a longer period of time. So the germ of the idea for the next exhibition: ‘The Mind of the Artist’ was born, which will run in the gallery from 14th – 30th November at Town House. It will include works by Hercules Brabizon Brabizon, Laura Knight, Feliks Topolski, Madge Gill, Austin Osman Spare, Scottie Wilson, E Q Nicholson and of course the Duncan Grant design for the plate.

If you are a Huguenot….

Welcome! If you are here to leave details of your ancestors for the Huguenots of Spitalfields Map or want to see it’s progress please visit the Town House Facebook page


and like, comment or share so that we can get as many families as possible on the map before we print it. Thank you and please come and see the map if you can, it will be in the gallery at Town House until the end of August.

The Huguenots of Spitalfields Map

Huguenots of Spitalfields mapI can’t believe it’s already a year since the Huguenots Festival and the launch of the Huguenots of Spitalfields charity. It was an amazing couple of weeks: so many people coming in who’d never visited the area before, but fascinated by it all and very keen to share their family history. I know the feeling: we discovered a couple of years after I opened the shop here in Fournier Street, that my husband’s ancestors had lived at number 29 in the 18th century and were married in the church opposite in 1756 – an extraordinary coincidence!

I had the idea last year of a Huguenot family history map of the area, but too late to organise it. However, this year I have and Adam Dant has drawn a very large map of the Spitalfields area extending from Bell Lane in the south to Calvert Avenue in the north and from Norton Folgate/Bishopsgate in the west to Brick Lane in the east. From 1st July to 31st August this year the map will fill the back wall of the gallery at Town House. We’re asking anyone who has details of their 18th and 19th century family who lived in the are (dates, names and addresses), either to come in and put the details on the map or email us on fiona@townhousewindow.com and we’ll do it for you.
We’ll also have a very large blank piece of paper on another wall, which will be a ‘message-board’ for anyone seeking further information about their family members.

We need as many people as possible to come and take part so that we can build a good family history map of the area and if we get enough families then we’ll get it printed for sale and give the original to the Bishopsgate for their archives. So come and see us in the summer and put your family on the map!