If like us you love the hidden secrets that London has to offer, then Open House Weekend, the yearly event where London opens its doors to the public, is the best for you. Here is our list of the best things that we learnt from our 35km explorations!
1 – Our first stop was the Royal College Of Physicians, a widely considered modernist masterpiece opened in 1964. I learned that the building is meant to reflect the human circulatory system, the heart at the centre, the view from the top balcony seeing all the people moving around it’s spiralled design like blood flowing through veins.
2 – Jess’ favourite thing from the Royal College of Physicians was the library. The most fascinating room, with a huge amount of large, empty space and two tiny sofas. More importantly though they have over 25,000 rare books from before 1859!
3- The second thing to stick in Tim’s mind from the places we visited at OHW was that the inside of the Royal Institute Of British Architects an almost cavernously massive Art Deco Fan’s paradise. It’s fun to admire certain buildings or institutions from the outside but learning what the interiors of these places are like is phenomenal.
4- The French Protestant Church in Soho Square was phenomenal. Aside from the fact that for a Protestant Church it was exquisitely beautiful, it housed some of the oldest religious books, some real Calvins, some 14 century bibles and a bible from the 1500s written in 5 different languages. It’s been there for over 400 years, since the Huguenots settled in London, and was designed by Aston Webb when it was rebuilt in 1891. He’s the guy that did Buckingham Palace and the V&A museum too!
5- We can’t write about Two Temple Place, because we love it too much as a building anyway, so one that is attached to it is Middle Temple. Just by Two Temple Place and the Temple Church lies this beautiful wooden paneled hall, with an amazing stained glass panel, and the biggest, most majestic portraits hanging over a huge dining table that is still used by Barristers to this day. Currently Temple Inn, where the bar sit to moot and learn, in 1592 it was where the Knights Templar met, basing their meetings on the stories of Arthur and the round table!
6- We were lucky enough to venture inside the stunning Foreign and Commonwealth office, and somehow I didn’t already know that George Gilbert Scott was the man behind its design! He is responsible for one of our favourite buildings in the world, the renaissance hotel at St Pancras.
7- The Royal College of Nursing house was once the house that the Prime Minister lived in. In fact, it was the house that Lord Asquith lived in when he was PM, and he was notoriously against women getting the vote. The suffragettes used to chain themselves outside of his house, and this was the house that it was!
8- The one we were the most excited about having missed the year before was Freemasons Hall aka The Grand Lodge Of England, which is arguably the most important and iconic Masonic building in the world. We learnt that the entire building but particularly the main hall was completely covered in religious symbolism, which was fascinating to me as it is not a religion and they accept all religions into the masons, yet it clearly plays a large part of the design of Masonic buildings and history.
9- We visited something called a Roman Bath in Temple. Both of us got over excited and although it does look like a Roman Bath, it turns out that it was made in 1776 as a cold bath to attract people to come and use so the owner could make money from it! Shocking!
10- The last place we visited across the weekend was another smaller and even more fascinating Masonic lodge hidden deep inside a hotel attached to Liverpool Street station. What we learnt here was that patience is a virtue. We waited in line for over an hour and a half to get into this place, and my god was it worth it!
Did you go? Do you have secrets of the city that you think we will want to know? Let us know in the comments below! Like this? Follow on Bloglovin to get new posts delivered straight to your inbox! https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/four-thousand-weeks-1915228