Call me a sucker for secrecy, but when Simon Drake's elusive Valentine's Special at the House of Magic came up, there was no way I could miss such an opportunity to 1. Discover this confidential cavern of cloak-and-dagger cavorting and 2. brush up on my own 'rabbit in a hat'.
'There's no place like home' is never a more haunting statement for a venue where its owner does in fact live. Tucked behind a looming red gate and gloomily guarded by a majestic glade style garden, the House of Magic is a Victorian house that Simon Drake himself brought back from bare and derelict bones in the early 90s. Retaining its period features and baroque beauty, House of Magic is split into a selection of decadent spaces: The Haunted Cellar, The Red Room, The Drawing Room and The Auditorium.
From a Drawing Room doused in dusty Horror-esque paraphernalia and a Haunted Cellar brimming with decapitated wares to the Auditorium boasting gold back chairs, velvet draped furniture and gilded garms, House of Magic is something of the majestic and macabre all at once. With a fully stocked bar to boot boasting JD and coke from as little as £4, Simon Drake certainly has no penchant for running you dry.
When a period of nearly six hours is so crammed with elusive antics, it's hard to know where to start. Penchant for the future, or bit of a nosey sort? Then I suggest you begin with The Whispering Chair. Be guided by a seductive mistress and have your fortune told at any point in the night....i'd share mine, but that's a secret between me and The House of Magic don't you know. Then follow such foretelling with a trip down into The Haunted Cellar, prepare to be scared something silly and crack a few ribs listening to the hilarious jostle of Victorian vampires and flying heads.
The main show was something unto itself. Kicking off with a little live music, Elliot Mason giggled the audience into comfort with his tongue-in-cheek 'When They Turned Jif Into Cif' before the main show began. A born performer and incredibly down to earth host, Simon Drake arrives in a cloud of forlorn smoke, set to regale the crowd with floating candles, bloodied knives and the snatching of audience heads. From interludes of subtle burlesque to magical mysticism, Simon Drake had the entire crowd, and myself, hooked.
Whether it was the roaring of real fireplaces, the red wine I was chucking down my gullet or the delicious beef stew courtesy of our two course buffet, Simon Drake's House of Magic is broody, it's spellbinding and it's captivating. From guests soaking up the live entertainment and shrieks from the cellar to young couples crooning by the open flames, no corner was left untouched by the intrigue of guests at this unique event. Dry conversations are most certainly left by the door when there's a Hellraiser replica to get giddy over in the Drawing Room.
There may have been no hypnotism on my behalf, but I became completely and utterly enchanted by this bespoke playground of vintage mysticism. Whether it's the venue or the theatrics alone, Simon Drake is a renowned magician that has cultivated one heck of a luscious and unique lair for those that like their events a little off-kilter and their magic shows with a dash of period-style pazazz.