As you all know Open House London concluded today for 2019.
For the less informed, Open House London is an annual event where more than 800 buildings open their doors to the public free of cost. Its a great opportunity to visit places which otherwise are not open or charged. Spread across London, all zones, so you may need to choose and prepare yourself ahead to maximize the time you have at hand.
Also many attractions need to be pre-booked like 10 Downing street, American Embassy which are open only via ballot, so keep an eye on when it opens up to reserve your spot ahead of time.
This year my chosen areas were around Bank and Liverpool street. Since I work close by, this area is familiar to me, so with little navigation, I was able to find all spots. I shortlisted places few days before, plotted them on the map to decide the order of visit.
The Open House starts at 10am. And for some attractions the ques can be really long. So plan for an early start.
So this year my parameters to decide the places was same as last year, buildings with grand interiors. Based on their listing on https://openhouselondon.open-city.org.uk/ I did my research and visited the below :
1.Masonic Temple, Andaz Liverpool Street (former Great Eastern Hotel)
Andaz is a renowned hotel in Liverpool street. This Greek temple inside the hotel was built in 1912 at the cost of 50k pounds. The temple has beautiful floors and pillars of marble with heavy mahogany chairs. To reach you have to climb 2-3 set of winding stairs and go thru some solid heavy doors. Dimply lit, its hard to click pictures, however i managed this one.
2. Drapers Hall
About 10 minutes walk from Masonic Temple, is this beautiful building called Drapers Hall. This is a large Livery hall with few large rooms as well which was used for trading activities. This hall was destroyed in the Great London Fire and rebuilt after it in 1600s. The largest room is the Livery Hall. Other rooms are Court room, Court Dining Room. All rooms have lavish interiors adorned with rich tapestries, ornate chandeliers, coat of arms, plush carpets, heavy wooden furniture and beautiful paintings.
3. Guildhall Buildings
Guildhall is a very known building in Bank area in Greesham street. When i say Guidhall ‘buildings’, Iam referring to the Hall, the Art gallery, the church all in the Guildhall Yard.
The Hall is 600 years old which is used even today for government functions and banquets. It has an old library adjacent to it which is also open to visit. The Hall is large and beautiful with orange colored lighting. The Guildhall Art Gallery was also open, we took a quick tour of the paintings and the roman amphitheater.
Last on our list was St Lawrence Jewry, which is the church in the Guidhall Yard. A modest and pretty church with lovely wooden work.
Guidhall Buildings tour is worth 2-3 hours if done at a leisurely pace. We completed it in almost 1.5 hours as we had more places to visit.
4. Clothworkers Hall
A short distance from Bank in Dunster Court, Mincing Lane (walk on Fenchurch street) is Clothworkers Hall.
Like Drapers Hall, this is also a trading hall for cloth. This is the sixth hall at this site as the previous were destroyed. While the first one was built in 1472 AD , the present hall was built and opened in 1958.
The lush blue carpet was part of the refurbishment in 2017. The interiors are lavish with paintings and chandeliers. Its remarkable how the original Victorian style has been retained.
5. Lloyds Register Group
Lloyds Register Group is about creating safe supply chains in shipping and other logistic areas. The building dates back to early 1900s and has been modernized over time.
There are many exhibits in the carefully preserved old offices and committee rooms. The interiors are not lavish, however the bookcases in the old library are over 100 years old. The chairman’s office is a cozy, plush one with beautiful chairs and desks.
This building is in Fenchurch street.
So which one was my favourite this year?
Well I couldn’t explore anything on Sunday due to other pre-engagements so all the above was only one Saturday visit. My pick is an easy and obvious one, The Drapers Hall. I love Victorian buildings and also the plush interiors and the Drapers Hall had it all.
Open House is a great initiative to visit these places for free in otherwise expensive London. Will wait for next year event to explore more.
Would love to hear your experience of the Open House and which attractions you visited?