A few months after arriving in London, Vincent van Gogh moved into a boarding house run by the widow Sarah-Ursula Loyer in the Brixton neighbourhood, where she also ran a boys’ school. He had previously lived in another house, whose address remains unknown; although he initially liked it there, after a few months he began looking for new, cheaper lodgings. He found them at the Loyers’, and he wrote enthusiastically to his brother Theo about how much he liked living there. He was satisfied with his room, enjoyed the bustle of the household, and kept busy tending the Loyers’ garden. He probably slept in the room at the front of the house on the top floor, the third.
“Things are going well for me here, I have a wonderful home and it’s a great pleasure for me to observe London and the English way of life and the English themselves, and I also have nature and art and poetry, and if that isn’t enough, what is?”
Vincent regarded the Loyers almost as family. Back home, the Van Goghs were pleased that he had found such fine accommodation; the often sombre Vincent was in good form. From 14 July 1874, Vincent’s sister Anna, who had come to England to look for a job, also stayed at the Loyers’. Their time together there did not last long: in mid-August, they moved to John Parker’s house at 295 Kennington Road in London.
While at the Loyers’, Vincent fell in love with Ursula's daughter, Eugenie. Disappointingly for him, she was already engaged to another young man. This may have caused Vincent to become embittered; at any rate, his family observed a change in mood. He became melancholy and withdrawn and began to act strangely, and this worried them. His mother blamed his behaviour on the disappointment he had suffered at the Loyers’ and accused the family of having “secrets” and not being normal. She was glad when Vincent and Anna moved to the Parkers’.
Vincent himself, however, evidently maintained warm feelings for the Loyers: in 1876, when he walked from Isleworth to London, he paid Ursula a birthday visit.
A drawing of the Loyers’ house at 87 Hackford Road is known to exist, but it has not been recognised by the Van Gogh Museum as an authentic Van Gogh.