575 Wandsworth Road
|Main feature||Poet's residence|
|Other features||Ornately decorated interior|
|Public access||Pre-booked guided tours|
|UK Grid square||TQ292761|
|Address||575 Wandsworth Road, Clapham|
575 Wandsworth Road in London, England, was the home of Kenyan poet and civil servant Khadambi Asalache until his death in 2006. Following his death it was acquired by the National Trust who aim to open the house as a museum.
Buying a modest "two-up two-down" Georgian terraced house in Wandsworth Road in 1981, Asalache paid less than the asking price of £31,000. The house was in Lambeth on the number 77 bus route, allowing him to commute almost directly to his workplace. The property was in a poor state of repair when he bought it, having previously been occupied by squatters. For 20 years, he decorated it internally with Moorish-influenced fretwork which he cut by hand from discarded pine doors and wooden boxes. The intricate woodwork was augmented by illustrations of African wilderness, and his collection of 19th-century English lustreware pottery.
The house was shown in The World of Interiors in July/August 1990, and the Sunday Telegraph Magazine in February 2000. Tim Knox, director of Sir John Soane's Museum, wrote about the house in Nest in late 2003, describing it as "an extremely serious and carefully worked out exercise in horror vacui, taking its inspiration from the Mozarabic reticulations of the Moorish kingdoms of Granada." The work takes inspiration from the Great Mosque of Cordoba, the Alhambra and Generalife in Granada, doors in Zanzibar, panelled interiors in Damascus, and the waterside houses or yalı in Istanbul.
Asalache left the property to the National Trust in his will. The National Trust accepted the property, deciding that it was "of national significance and should be safeguarded ... a great work of art and an important part of our built heritage", subject to raising an endowment of £3–5 million for its maintenance.
Following major conservation work, in March 2013 the National Trust began holding guided tours of the house, booked in advance. These have proved "very popular".
- Official blog (last updated October 2011)
- Obituary, The Times, 24 June 2006
- National Trust look for £4m to preserve Khadambi Asalache's house, The Guardian, 20 January 2009
- National Trust needs £4m to save intricately decorated terrace, The Daily Telegraph, 19 January 2009
- Call to save Kenyan poet's home, BBC News, 19 January 2009.
- Khadambi Asalache’s House, The National Trust
- "575 Wandsworth Road - Visitor information". The National Trust. Retrieved 3 March 2012.