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The trompe l’œil niche


Our house in Gower Street
John Julius Norwich Writer
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But then we left Gower Street when I was seven. I remember it quite well, it was just an ordinary little terraced house like there are still. Ours is gone but there are still others, lots of others just like it in Gower Street. It was on the east side of the street. And when my parents bought it, they just bought a regular house. But when money started coming in, which it did from The Miracle – my mother made a lot of money on The Miracle – and they were able to buy the first floor of the next-door house which was divided into flats and eventually they bought the fourth... the first floor of the next door one. So they had a piano nobile. They had a huge first floor which was actually three... the first floor of three different houses, but on all the other floors, it was just one.

And the nursery floor where I and my nanny lived was immediately above. They had their bedroom on that grand ground floor, drawing-room, bedroom, and my father’s study, three great big lovely rooms one after another. And then my nanny and I were on the one above and then Miss Wade, my mother’s maid and the cook and the housemaid, probably sharing, were at the top. They had no bathroom. We had a bathroom of a kind, nanny and I. It had a bath, a sort of kitchen sink and a loo; it was pretty primitive, but it was alright. And my parents had a bathroom each by the end.

John Julius Norwich (1929-2018) was an English popular historian, travel writer and television personality. He was educated at Upper Canada College, Toronto, at Eton, at the University of Strasbourg and on the lower deck of the Royal Navy before taking a degree in French and Russian at New College, Oxford. He then spent twelve years in H.M. Foreign Service, with posts at the Embassies in Belgrade and Beirut and at the Disarmament Conference in Geneva. In 1964 he resigned to become a writer. He is the author of histories of Norman Sicily, the Republic of Venice, the Byzantine Empire and, most recently, 'The Popes: A History'. He also wrote on architecture, music and the history plays of Shakespeare, and presented some thirty historical documentaries on BBC Television.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Gower Street, terraced house, piano mobile

Duration: 1 minute, 53 seconds

Date story recorded: 2017

Date story went live: 03 October 2018