September in London means it’s time for the annual Open House Weekend. If you haven’t heard of Open House before, it’s London’s largest annual festival of architecture and design and you are able to visit hundreds of properties around London for free, many of which are rarely open to the public. I love snooping inside historical buildings so I make an effort to attend every year - this was my third Open House weekend.
Here are the properties I visited this year:
Portcullis House is the building across the road from Big Ben and the House of Parliament. I’ve walked past it so many times but I never really gave much thought as to what was inside. It is a working space for members of both the Houses of Parliament and their staff. There is a beautiful atrium on the ground floor which is what I really wanted to see.
When I arrived about 10 minutes before opening time a queue was already forming. It was a bit slow getting in as you have to go through an airport-style security screening, it took around half an hour to get inside.
You’re free to take photos of the atrium but not on the first floor for security reasons. I wasn’t really bothered by this since the first floor is just made up of meeting rooms and offices that aren’t particularly photogenic.
Just a short walk around the corner from Portcullis House was our next stop - a Grade II listed building on Whitehall which is home to the HM Treasury, the government department responsible for developing and executing the British government’s public finance policy and economic policy. There were no queues here, we were able to just walk straight in.
Admiralty House used to be the official residence of the First Lords of the Admiralty but is now owned by the Cabinet Office and is used for UK government functions. The rooms on the ground floor were open for viewing including the drawing room, music room, band room and dining room. Unfortunately no photos were allowed, not even in the courtyard outside, but its a beautiful building and well worth a snoop if you get the chance.
The highlight of the weekend for me was Drapers’ Hall. This stunning building is owned by The Drapers’ Company and is available to hire for banqueting and events. The Court Dining Room, The Court Room, The Livery Hall, and The Drawing Room were all open to visitors. I got there for opening time so there were quite a few people waiting to get in but I think later in the day the crowds would probably be smaller.
My original plan was to visit the Bank of England but when I got there the queue was insane and didn’t appear to be moving. Rather than stand in a line of hours I decided to pop around the corner to Guildhall instead to see the Gothic-style Great Hall as well as the crypts and the Old Library.
Chrisp Street Market Clock Tower
I decided to stop by here as it was on my way home to take in views of the London skyline.
If you want to see more of Open House London check out my post from last year’s event.
Did you make it out to Open House weekend? What places did you visit? I’m already looking for recommendations for next year!