The Open House London is a free and fun event in the capital. Hundreds of interesting, stunning, new and old places were open for curious Londoners and towns guests.
I really wanted to go inside the Gherkin, but I knew the queues would be massive so I kept it fairly low key and made my way in to the City – the quietest borough of London during weekends. I was happy with the choice and, as I suspected, the City was lovely and peaceful in the morning mist.
The first building on my list was Custom House on the north bank of the river Thames. The late – Georgian building is now occupied by H&M Revenue & Custom but was once the backbone of HM Customs and Excise. The London Custom House was built to deal with the busy trade on the River Thames.
The 58 m long neo-classical Long Room was the central reporting point for all London Customs business in the 19 C. The captain of every ship that came up the Thames had to come here. Until he paid his Custom duties he would not be allowed to unload or sell his cargo.
Just across the street from Custom House I popped into Billingsgate Roman house and Baths.
I wondered around one of London’s best Roman remains with a 3C bath house and tried to imagine what it looked like back in the 2 C.
To me Guildhall is one of the most beautiful buildings in London with its elegant white façade reaching for the sky. Guildhall is a rare example of Medieval civic architecture with post – war extensions.
I was most interested in seeing the medieval Great Hall where royalty and state visitors have been entertained. It’s like stepping into Hogwarts in Harry Potter. So impressed.
Let’s go down to the crypts.
Wow. East and West Crypts are the largest medieval crypts in London. Imagine having dinner here…
I was also intrigued that the Guildhall Art Gallery is built over remains of London’s 2C Roman amphitheatre, so I went underground for a little sniff.
I also popped into the church of St Lawrence Jewry next Guildhall. I am sure it’s open all year round, but I’ve never been inside. It was destroyed during the Great Fire of London in 1966 and restored to the original Sir Christopher Wren’s design.
The last place, and I have to mention, the most delightful place I visited that day was Draper’s Hall. This livery hall first built in the 1530, twice destroyed by fire and rebuilt ,overwhelmed me so much that I had to take a deep breath and sit down. Victorian interior was just too much to take in in one go, so I wondered from one room to another in a circle. The décor is so over the top and incredibly beautiful at the same time with its shiny chandeliers, marble staircase, carvings and painted ceiling.
The Drawing Room, designed, decorated and furnished by Herbert William and John G. Crace in 1866 & 1870 remains much as they left it.
The Court Dining Room with a fine view of the Hall’s garden.
The Hall’s garden.
The Court Room.
The Livery Hall. The centre painting is a scene from The Tempest, the north and south panels contain scenes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
I was completely blown away and sat in this room starring at every detail… it’s like a theatre!
And that was another great Sunday finished by a riverside picnic.