575 Wandsworth Road

575 Wandsworth Road, London, was the home of Kenyan poet and civil servant Khadambi Asalache until his death in 2006. Following his death he left it to the National Trust, which opened the house as a museum for pre-booked guided tours.

575 Wandsworth Road
General information
TypeGeorgian terraced house
London, SW8
United Kingdom
Coordinates51.469671°N 0.140646°W / 51.469671; -0.140646
OwnerNational Trust


Asalache bought the "two-up two-down" Georgian terraced house in Wandsworth Road in 1981,[1] paying less than the asking price of £31,000.[2] The property was in a poor state of repair when he bought it, having previously been occupied by squatters.[1] For 20 years,[3] he decorated it internally with Moorish-influenced fretwork[1] which he cut by hand from discarded pine doors and wooden boxes.[2] The intricate woodwork was augmented by illustrations of African wilderness, and his collection of 19th-century English lustreware.[2][3][4]

The property was shown in World of Interiors in 1990, and in the Sunday Telegraph Magazine in 2000. Tim Knox, director of Sir John Soane's Museum, in Nest in 2003, described it as:

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.[1] Asalache left the property to the National Trust in his will.[1] They accepted the property, subject to raising an endowment of £3–5 million for its maintenance,[3][5] is they considered it a building:

of national significance and should be safeguarded ... a great work of art and an important part of our built heritage,[5]


Following major conservation work, in 2013 the National Trust began pre-booked guided tours of the house. These have proved "very popular".[6]


  1. Obituary, The Times, 24 June 2006
  2. National Trust look for £4m to preserve Khadambi Asalache's house, The Guardian, 20 January 2009
  3. National Trust needs £4m to save intricately decorated terrace, The Daily Telegraph, 19 January 2009
  4. Call to save Kenyan poet's home, BBC News, 19 January 2009.
  5. Khadambi Asalache’s House Archived 11 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine, The National Trust
  6. "575 Wandsworth Road - Visitor information". The National Trust. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
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