Fournier Street and the Gentle Author

6th March 2015

By Helen Parker

I have been writing blogs for nearly two years now, I have nearly reached my hundredth so I was thinking of writing something extra special to mark this centenary!!

It lead me to looking at all sorts of interesting things particularly focusing on interiors, things I love and my new found fascination for the East End. Now I get to visit our Clerkenwell showroom so regularly I have begun searching for unusual places to stay and eat and it has led me to all kinds of fascinating places.

Initially I settled upon the story of John Nicolson who purchased an abandoned sweatshop on Fournier Street in Spitalfields, East London in 1995 and the transformation that has taken him ten years. Its a really interesting story, I particularly liked the piece where he mentions that the house was full of strange and exotic spiders because previously the next door house had been used as a banana store, so he was always scared to put his arms down any dark places he found during the renovation in case of attack!! anyway my story was to be based on the beautiful images that have come from this renovation, it is such a sensitive and beautiful project and his design choices and colours are awe inspiring. Farrow and Ball have been very prominent in many of the photographs of the house and I must say the paints used are so subtle and perfect, what a great advertisment for using their paints.

Photography by Jan Baldwin.

Photography by Jan Baldwin.

Fournier Street has become one of the most important and best preserved collections of early Georgian domestic town-houses in Britain. This street and a neighbouring Wilkes Street is home to  Tracy Emin and the artists George and Gilbert, plus many more, so a very cool place to live. One of these properties would have sold for around £4,000 back in the sixties, one recently sold for £4 million.

the beautiful houses of Fournier Street, Spitalfields

The beautiful houses of Fournier Street, Spitalfields

The two links above tell of the story of the renovation and the Pinterest site of John Nicholson the man in question and a interesting collection of images from 7 Fournier Street. I think the most impressive part of the project is how he has painstakingly brought this house back to life using every single piece of original detailing he could and painstakingly ensuring everything is exactly right for this property.

the entrance of 7 Fournier Street by John Nicolson

the entrance of 7 Fournier Street by John Nicolson

So from deciding to write about No 7 Fournier Street, then changing my mind, I realise I now have written about it and shown you some pictures. This has left me wondering whether to mention the piece that I also wanted to tell you about which I found by accident searching for information on Fournier Street. It caught my eye because it was about blogging and that seemed a good subject to mention when reaching my own 100th blog !! I love the instantness of blogging and the ability to just get things out there, things you wouldn’t normally write about as a normal person not an author or a journalist. You can just say things your thinking or liking or doing, you can tell stories and people may very well read them. Some people have taken blogging to whole different level, the gentle author is just one of these people.

‘In the midst of life I woke to find myself living in an old house beside Brick Lane in the East End of London, over the coming days, weeks, months and years, I am going to write every single day and tell you about life here in Spitalfields at the heart of London. How can I ever describe the exuberant richness and multiplicity of culture in this place to you?  This is both my task and my delight.

Let me disclose to you the hare-brained ambition I am pursuing, which is to write at least ten thousand stories about Spitalfields life. At the rate of one a day, this will take approximately twenty-seven years and four months. Who knows what kind of life we shall be living in 2037 when I write my ten thousandth post?

With these words the Spitalfields Life blog was born, back in August 2009. Today, thousands of people from around the world come to read each daily posting by its eloquent but enigmatic creator – the Gentle Author.
The link above is to the blog in full, it comprises of hundreds of stories about the people, animals, buildings, restaurants and pretty much anything that goes on in this part of East London. I read about where taxi drivers eat their lunch, a local lady who lives in an old brewery off Brick Lane with a menagerie of animals, the life of a pedlar selling peanuts who got arrested 86 times so he retired. The meat market in pictures early in the morning, I love it, normal everyday people and places. You have to read it. Now I’m glad I did write about Fournier Street because the Gentle Author just has to be read to be enjoyed I cannot put in a blog even a fraction of the fascination you will get from reading it.