Open House 2009

September 21, 2009 at 10:29 pm | Posted in General, London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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Every year many of London’s buildings that are normally closed to the public are opened up for a rare chance to see some classic gems as part of Open House. This year I went to:

St Stephens: A historic church located near Bank. It could have been interesting but sadly it didn’t seem open when we came by at 9:15 (opening hours started at 9). Perhaps we missed the entrance?

St Stephens - Open House (3) St Stephens - Open House (2)

Lloyd’s:The iconic modern industrial high-rise in the City, home to Lloyds and numerous other traders. Normally when you visit you have to be smartly dressed and for men wearing a tie but not on this Saturday (Sunday it’s closed). The high atrium, external lifts and views of the city make this a worthwhile visit but it’s better to get here early as the queues can take a while. Probably no more than 30 minutes once you get in.

Lloyds Building - Open House (14) Lloyds Building - Open House (30) Lloyds Building - Open House (7) Lloyds Building - Open House (62)

Japanese Festival: Nothing to do with Open House but this special one off event at Spitalfields Market was on the same day so I opted to detour off the itinerary to check it out. There were plenty of stalls serving food and other Japanese related products. Taiko drummers were performing energetically when I arrived and provided a soundtrack for my wander around. It looked like a pleasant day out with a number of families perusing the various activities and shops.

Japanese Festival (18) Japanese Festival (23)

Chartered Accountants’ Hall: The Accountants’ Hall is, oddly enough, the home of the Institute of Chartered Accountants with a historic Victorian exterior, library and reception room blending with modern banqueting hall, restaurant  and council chambers. A 15 minute tour provides an overview of the building and its history.

Chartered Accountants Hall - Open House (12) Chartered Accountants Hall - Open House (6)

Pipers’ City of London: Located near Guildhall is the City’s marketing office and its scale model of London. It only takes 5 or 10 minutes to look at but it is quite cool to see the city in miniature with all of the proposed buildings on display. You can also choose specific buildings or categories and they’ll be illuminated.

Piper's City of London - Open House (19) Piper's City of London - Open House (11)

St Mary’s – Bow Church: Another historic London church and this one was open. There were tours of the crypt and guides on tour to answer your questions. I took the opportunity to let the ambience soak in. However I only stayed for 15 minutes.

St Mary-le-Bow - Open House (10) St Mary-le-Bow - Open House (5)

Salvation Army: The International Headquarters of the Salvation Army, located near Saint Pauls, had tours of their building every half hour. We missed the latest one so opted to have a wander around the basement cafe and small exhibit space instead. Obviously we didn’t get the most out of this building and I’d be interested to hear if anyone went on the tour.

Salvation Army - Open House (2) Salvation Army - Open House

120 Fleet Street: Formerly the Daily Express building (during the heyday of the newspaper industry on Fleet Street) is notable for its art deco foyer. You may have to wait in line for 5 minutes or so but with the 1920s style mouldings and design it’s worth it. Probably takes 5 – 10 minutes once inside.

120 Fleet Street - Open House (8) 120 Fleet Street - Open House (3)

Honourable Company of Master Mariners: Down near Temple tube station and moored in the Thames is the HQS Wellington, home to the Honourable Company of Master Mariners. A 40 minute guided tour of the vessel offers a background to the company, its tussels with the City of London and a history of the Wellington (named for the New Zealand City not the Admiral) and other ships. Interesting but a touch long.

HQS Wellington - Open House (9) HQS Wellington - Open House (14)

Society of Antiquaries: Located inside Burlington House, the Society of Antiquaries while relatively small is home to an impressive library and imbues a sense of history and the preservation of knowledge onto this casual observer. Definitely one to look in on.  10 minutes.

Society of Antiquaries - Open House (10) Society of Antiquaries - Open House (6)

Linnean Society: Also located within Burlington House, the Linnean Society does for biology what the Antiquaries does for museums and history. Again it has an interesting library although you can’t wander as extensively nor can you pick up random books to browse through. 10 minutes.

Linnean Society - Open House (3) Linnean Society - Open House (2)

Open House is a great weekend but it’s important to have a plan to make sure you can see as many sites as possible during the weekend and try and avoid those that are normally open – unless they have a special tour or event on.

More photos at Flickr and a Google map.

Plus unrelated to Open House but still cool giant chess set in Trafalgar Square!

Trafalgar Square Chess Set (2) Trafalgar Square Chess Set

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