A very ordinary house

In a pretty ordinary street.

But once you cross the threshold, you are in a world of upmarket interior design of the late 1800s splashed across the walls and ceilings of these tiny rooms.

The house is the uplifting story of three generations – the working class artisan painter who created the interior, his granddaughter who protected it while raising her family in it, and the enthusiastic volunteers who discovered the house and raised the funds to restore it.

David Parr was born in 1854 in Cambridge into the poorest family imaginable. At 17, he became an apprentice to  F R Leach and worked all his life as an artisan decorator. He painted beautiful, intricate pictures on the walls of churches and the manor houses of rich folk of his time. Frequently, the work was commissioned by famous designers such as William Morris.

Over 40 years, in his free time, David Parr decorated his own modest terraced house in the style of the churches and grand houses he was working on.

On his death in 1927, his granddaughter Elsie moved in and stayed for more than 80 years, conserving her grandfather’s work and living a very private life. Not even the neighbours were aware what contrast the interior held to the outside.

A tiny gem of a place that must be seen on a visit to Cambridge. Admiring the patient, private imagination of one of the men whose work truly creates grand houses, feels like a valuable counter balance to the traditional sights dominating this rich university town.

1 Comment on "A very ordinary house"

  1. Very interesting- I presume it’s open to the public

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