Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2004.


[The House Where
H.P.B. Worked and Died]

by William Q. Judge

[Reprinted from The Path (New York), July 1891, pp. 131-134.]

The house where H. P. B. worked and died out of this life is at 19 Avenue road, and a short description of it may interest our readers. It is a large square house about 50 feet front and situated two blocks from Regent’s park. Like many houses in London it is covered with stucco and painted coffee-color. Standing in a large garden, it looks free and open to the American eye so accustomed to houses in rows. There is an extension along the front for a large room 20 feet wide, and at the back projects another one story addition intended for the private use of H. P. B. This is built of the yellowish brick so much used in London. The entrance door is in the middle of the front, and is a pylon with two large pillars. Running up to it from the front gate in the front brick wall is a walk of cement covered completely with glass, so that as one enters through the gate he finds himself in a glass passage with the front door at the other end slightly higher than the level of the gate. Enter the hall and we see that it runs back to the winding stair to the upper floors enclosed at the foot by glass doors. At the left of the stairs is the door leading into H. P. B.’s rooms, and opposite on the other side of the hall is the wide arch for the parlor entrance now hidden by a screen on one side and a curtain on the other. At the foot of the stairs on the right is a room marked "general work room" in which I slept during my visit there. Just there is the entrance to the garden. On the story above are five rooms, and on this floor the house staff in part have their rooms, and on the story above the others. There is a small lawn in front of the house and the two front rooms look out upon it. Pass through the parlor and at the other side is a descending passage of four steps by which we go into the lecture hall that has been built up against that in the house side of the house, part of iron and park of brick.

Going into the room where H.P.B. worked, we find that it is square and papered in dark color. Her desk was near the window, and on one side another desk or secretary. There is the large armchair in which she sat the livelong day, and all about are the ornaments she procured herself, with the photographs and pictures of her theosophical friends on every hand. In the opposite corner as we enter is the book case, and on the other side stood another case for books. On the wall over the fireplace is a curious Indian figure of Chrishna, and up in the corner near the ceiling a little gold Buddha, while in other places are other Indian objects. The panels of the inner side of the entrance door are full of photographs, among them those of Allen Griffiths, Dr. Buck, A. B. Griggs, Dr. Anderson, W. C. Temple, A. Fullerton, T. R. Prater, Dr. Salisbury, Dr. Westcott, and some others unfamiliar. Over the door is a small wooden image of Buddha. Across the room is a door leading to the room where her secretary sat and also Mrs. Besant, and this door is covered with velvet, having on it the photographs of some more of her fellow theosophists. This brings us to the mantel on which rests a high darkly-framed mirror with a picture of Mrs. Besant on one side. There are two standing brackets, and on one of them at the end is a picture of the famous woman yogi of India - Majii. Beside the door last spoken of is the other case, and on the top of it a bust of Plato and another of Socrates, while just over the door and inclined at an acute angle is a circular concave mirror. Some dark shelves are on the other side of the mantel covered with pictures and objects, among them being a large and very finely carved paper cutter which was presented to her by some Indian students. Opposite on the inner wall hangs a long and very ancient Japanese screen said to be 800 years old; it was given to her by Col. Olcott after his last visit to Japan, and near it is his picture. Turning again to the case beside the door into the extension, we can see on the top the little Japanese cabinet used by her in 1875 in the city of New York, and in which I have often seen things put to disappear at once, and from which she often in my sight drew out objects that had not been there just before and the quantity of which could not be contained in it in any ordinary manner. The last time I saw her she told me that she had always had it with her, and that it had suffered many accidents in which it had been often broken. The back room is separated by an arch on which curtains hang, and with a screen to hide the bed just beside the arch. It is a bedstead of brass and iron, and there are still the large pillows used by her. In one corner is a dressing-table at which in the morning she often sat and opened her letters. Beside the head of the bed and just where it could be seen as one lay down hung a photograph of her friend William Q. Judge, and in other places those of the Indian Headquarters and of persons she knew. On the other side of the room is a large clothes-press where was to be found clothing that she seldom had any use for, as she delighted in two or three old familiar things that felt like old friends not to be annoyed by inattention or want of display. Such is the plain and unassuming room in which this noble woman, this mysterious being, passed so much time in working steadily from day to day for the cause she loved, for the Society she started, and for true theosophists as well as for those ungrateful men and women who have abused her in her life and have tried to drag her name from the grave, but who will one day come to acknowledge the great services she has done for the whole human race.

She had the door cut into the extension room so that near to her call might be those who had chosen to take up the work of helping her on the spot without any hope of reward except the privilege of being near to her and to hear her speak of the mystery of life and the hope of the future. The world is in the habit of supposing that the life of such people as H. P. B. is full of excitement, and theosophists have often thought that to be near to her was to be in the constant presence of the marvellous. But such was not the case. It was a daily hard round of work and nothing but work for the sake of others. And as for the marvellous and the doing of magical things, that was not what she was here to do, and that she kept to herself, for, as she wrote to me, she knew well that her real life was never known to those who were about her, and they also came to know the same and to admit that they could never hope to understand her.

But one thing is certain, and that is that she herself made up her mind some months before her death that she was soon to go, and she began to quietly prepare the workers for that and to make sure that the centre she established in England would last for many years. That it will last as such a centre is evident to any one who will come and look at it and note the aspiration and the motive she created in the minds and hearts of those who were of late so constantly about her.

In accordance with H. P. B.’s wish her rooms will be kept intact just as she left them, and there is no doubt but that in the course of time they will be a place of pilgrimage for those who were able to appreciate her work. The Secret Doctrine was finished on the desk in the room, and that alone will be one great object of interest. Her pens and ink are there, and the scissors hanging by a tape. These were used every day in cutting out the paragraphs from different publications which she explained or replied to.

W.Q. J.