Open day weekend

October 19, 2008 at 6:34 pm | Posted in General, London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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There is a legend known only to a few. That for two days in Greater London there is an open house day… that lasts two days.  These mysterious landmarks are normally off limits to the lay commoner but for a glorious weekend in September (20-21) they open their doors to the public. In an event known as Open House. However, the alignment of planets that allows for the great opening also carries with it a curse and a heavy burden. Spread out over 699 sites across the capital. Beware the reckless traveller that does not plan their viewings for lo the sheer number will boggle and confuse. You may cry out in despair and lament why all of these places are open on the same day but such rational protestations will fall on deaf ears. What place is there for logic when grandiose claims of 699 sites must be upheld! Even if some are open normally. Be wary in your search for the Lloyd’s Building for it is open only on Saturday and only those early enough or with great forbearance will prevail as the line becomes long and treacherous. Should a quick respite be needed try The Treasury as it takes all of 5 minutes to walk through the meeting room, past the staff cafe and outside again. Truly impressive.

Treasury (6) Treasury (4) 

Beyond the Treasury was the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Possibly the best of all open buildings. Years of Empire produced a wonderful building with interesting and fascinating interiors charting the (former) reach of British Empire. Well worth a visit.

FCO (12) FCO (17)

FCO (33) FCO (30)

Next on the journey of a thousand steps came the home of the Cabinet where no mere devices of man (cameras and phones) where permitted to work. The rooms were small and well appointed but we were quickly done thus making the trials of entry almost more trouble than it was worth. At Trafalgar Square with spirits low we traversed the streets for enlightenment at St Martin in the Fields. Yet another venue ‘open’ on this special day that is open on most other days as well. Nonetheless the church while small was nice to wander around and the new expansion had recently opened and it provided a nice blend between old and new.

st martins st martins (8) st martins (18) st martins (25)

Within the centre of the city inside it’s walls and past its modern monuments to power lies the Guildhall. Home to London’s Guild’s and a Horology Museum. While fine to explore there was limited information available and so the tours on offer of the main hall were invaluable.

Guildhall Guildhall (4)

Guildhall (8) Guildhall (7)

For those considering adventuring on this special day I would advise you strike off any place normally open and to limit yourself to one borough of the city in order to maximise the number of places you can see. For the Powers That Be I urge you to restructure this event to run throughout the year and improve the search functions on your site.

Lastly, if you are considering visiting Lloyds next year then I implore you not to…just so I can get in!

More photos at Flickr.

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