National Trust tour - holiday souvenirs, poems, music and wood carvings

Updated: Aug 2

We were treated to an exclusive live tour of the National Trust’s 575 Wandsworth Road by expert Laura.

  • We looked at all the wood carvings which decorate the entire house, and heard about Khadambi Asalache who spent 20 years working on it.

  • We remembered the souvenirs we brought back from holidays

  • We learnt that Khadambi Asalache was a poet and wrote a collection of poems called Sunset in Naivasha. One poem was called the “Cave Painter”.

  • We shared what music inspired us after seeing Khadambi Asalache's personal collection of records, tapes and cd’s.

We’ll be going back again in a few months to see more.


575 Wandsworth Road. ©National Trust Images/Robin Forster
Candles and picture postcards on a mantlepiece with decorative fretwork at 575 Wandsworth Road, London ©National Trust Images/Robin Forster

Not many people are lucky enough to visit the National Trust’s 575 Wandsworth Road property, in fact only 6 people are allowed in at once (and have to take their shoes off first to protect the fragile interiors including hand-painted floors). We partner with lots of galleries, museums and other places of interest to bring their experts and collections directly into care homes that are part of Vibrant Communities. Our live online groups mean that isolated individuals can meet others who share similar interest and passions, and try new experiences.


The tour

Laura was talking to us from the cool basement of this inspirational property. She told us:

  • Originally from Kenya, Khadambi Asalache bought the house in the 1980s

  • He started decorating it with hand carved wood saved from skips to cover a damp patch in the wall.

  • He was a novelist and poet, and he studied a wide range of topics including Architecture, Fine Art and the Philosophy of Mathematics, and as far as we are aware had no previous experience of carving.

We got to see the whole house, and the carvings and painting in each room. Laura also showed us around many of Khadambi Asalache's possessions, including a collection of ceramics and inkwells. We also saw the knife he used to do all the carvings.


How do you remember your holidays?

Postcards in a shop - Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

When Khadambi Asalache traveled he didn’t take photos, instead he bought postcards and created paintings which represent them on the walls of his home.


There are paintings of a trip to Zanzibar, the journey of the River Nile in Egypt, and an African safari.


We remembered holidays and the souvenirs we brought back with us:

  • fridge magnets

  • slides,

  • tickets/bags to make collages

  • sound recordings.

One person had kept a journal of holidays when he was just married, which included visits to many National Trust homes.

What sort of music inspires you?

Khadambi Asalache had an eclectic range of music, from classical to jazz, blues, soul, rock and pop. His collection included Prince, Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.


We shared what sort of music we like best. We liked piano music, music on the radio, music you can dance to and classical music.

  • One lady really likes ballroom music – quick steps and waltzes.

  • One of the gentlemen preferred dreamy, sleepy music


A bit about expert Laura

Expert Laura is the House and gardens manager. When Laura first visited the property she couldn’t spot it from the outside as there isn’t even a house number. She got off the double decker bus and thought she must have got it wrong, as it just looks like a normal house on a busy London road.


But when she peaked through letterbox she couldn’t believe what she saw – hand carved wood everywhere. That was 6 years ago, and she’s still there. It’s her favourite place.


Laura gives tours, like ours, and looks after the house. This includes checking for moths in the textiles, as well as the epic amount of cleaning. The property has 8000 objects to clean (and that’s doesn’t include the wood carvings). We agreed this might put is off living there!


We’ll be heading back to 575 Wandsworth Road in London again in a few months. Next time we hope to look at the garden and take more time to listen to some of Khadambi’s favourite music. The session with be aimed at individuals rather than groups.


If you’d like your care community to come along to the next tour, or any of our other live groups, get in touch for a chat on hello@vibrantcommunities.co.uk.

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