This weekend (16th & 17th September), marks the 25th anniversary of Open House London. Over 800 buildings will be open to the public for free along with a programme of walks and tours. Here’s our pick of architectual gems that will delight your taste buds.
1. THE VIEW FROM THE SHARD
Joiner Street, SE1 9EX
At a height of up to 800ft or 244m, and at almost twice the height of any other vantage point in London, visitors can experience unrivalled 360 degree views over the city for up to 40 miles on a clear day. Begin your journey in a high-speed lift that carries you from Level 1 to Level 68 in sixty seconds.
Eat & Drink: Relax with a glass of champagne on the Level 69 observation deck and then explore London’s Borough Market, just a short walk away.
2. KENSINGTON ROOF GARDENS
6th Floor, 99 Kensington High Street (entrance on Derry Street), W8 5SA
A fine example of 1930s architecture, Kensington Roof Gardens is home to 1.5 acres of beautifully themed gardens with a Spanish Garden, Tudor Garden and English Woodland Garden. The space has served as an escape from London for over 75 years.
Eat & Drink: In the Babylon Restaurant at The Roof Gardens or go for Afternoon Tea at the Orangery in Kensington Palace Gardens.
3. HAMPTON COURT PALACE GARDENS
Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, KT8 9AU
There will be a range of tours of the formal Palace gardens. They will include Henry VIII’s Pond garden which held the fresh water fish required by the kitchens for feeding the court. While you’re at Hampton Court, don’t miss seeing the world’s largest vine (they still make wine from it), Henry VIII’s impressive kitchens, the chocolate kitchens and the walled kitchen garden.
4. FULLER’S GRIFFIN BREWERY
The Griffin Brewery, Chiswick Lane South, W4 2QB
There’s been a brewery on this site since the 17th century. The present brewery has existed here for almost 200 years. Take the Fuller’s Brewery tour to discover more about this iconic London brewer.
Eat & Drink: Walk along the River Thames and go for lunch at The Dove, a Fuller’s pub next to the river in Hammersmith.
5. BRIXTON WINDMILL
Windmill Gardens, West end of Blenheim Gardens, SW2 5EU
One of very few windmills in London. It was built in 1816 when Brixton Hill was still open fields and remained a working mill until 1934. It was restored to full working order in 2011.
Eat & Drink: Explore Brixton Market and then head to Oval to do a tour of the Beefeater Gin Distillery.
6. VINTNERS’ HALL
Upper Thames Street, EC4V 3BG
Vintners’ Hall is the home of the Worshipful Company of Vintners’ and it’s the spiritual home of the wine trade. The Hall is an outstanding example of mid 17C craftsmanship. Richly panelled and with a magnificently carved staircase, it contains paintings, plates, charters and other treasures dating back to 14C.
7. BROWN HART GARDENS
Brown Hart Gardens, North Mayfair, W1K 6TD
It’s really worth knowing about Brown Hart Gardens, an elevated public square that’s hidden away but adjacent to Oxford Street, one of the busiest shopping streets in the world. If you want to escape the crowds for some peace and contemplation in the heart of the capital, you’ll find it here.
Eat & Drink: The Peyton & Byrne cafe in the square or buy your lunch in Selfridges Food Hall and eat it in the gardens.
8. W. PLUMB FAMILY BUTCHERS
93 Hornsey Road, N19 3QL
A Grade II listed, magnificent former Victorian butcher’s shop c1900 with elaborate Art Nouveau wall tiling, geometric tiled floor, scrolled meat rails and mahogany cashier’s booth with etched and brilliant cut glass. It’s very well preserved and available as a space for private dinners and parties.
Eat & Drink: Riverford at The Duke of Cambridge. Part of Riverford Organics, this north London gastro pub serves organic food and drink.
9. ALMSHOUSES AT THE GEFFRYE MUSEUM
136 Kingsland Road, E2 8EA
The Geffrye Museum is set in a row of 18th century almshouses which are Grade I listed. It’s a special kind of museum showing the way people have lived and furnished their homes over the centuries. The linear arrangement provides a series of period rooms which visitors move past in chronological order, displaying rooms from Tudor times to the present day.
10. DENNIS SEVERS HOUSE
18 Folgate Street, E1 6BX
For a unique and remarkable experience, step inside this candlelit house and literally go back in time. It will reveal an intimate portrait of the lives of a family of Huguenot silk-weavers from 1724 to the dawn of the 20th Century. As you follow their fortunes through the generations, the sights, smells and sounds of the house take you into their lives.
Eat & Drink: Dennis Severs House is next to Spitalfields market where there’s a good choice of places to eat. Ottolenghi’s restaurant is nearby, too.
11. BANQUETING HOUSE
Whitehall, SW1A 2ER
Take a look around James I’s Palace, completed in 1622. The Banqueting Hall was a venue for extravagant entertainment including masked balls and grand ambassadorial receptions. Explore his vaulted drinking den beneath the Banqueting House where he entertained his friends.
Eat & Drink: Walk across St James’ Park and dine like royalty by taking Afternoon Tea at The Ritz on Piccadilly.
12. FULHAM PALACE
Bishop’s Avenue, SW6 6EA
The former residence of the Bishop of London until 1973. The building is a mixture of styles and periods, but what survives is a Tudor manor house with Georgian additions and a Victorian chapel. There’s a delightful walled garden and a vinery.
Eat & Drink : Fulham Palace has a lovely garden cafe. Otherwise walk along the River from here to The River Cafe or Raymond Blanc’s newly-opened brasserie. Walk further and have a pint after doing the Fuller’s Griffin Brewery tour.
13. FORTY HALL ESTATE
Forty Hill, Enfield, EN2 9HA
Set in its own Estate, with walled garden, formal and informal gardens, lakes, lawns and meadows, Forty Hall is Grade I listed and important to architectural English history. The estate has its own farm and community vineyard with ten acres of vines.
Eat & Drink: Buy Estate and London produce from the Forty Hall Farm Shop.
14. OASIS COMMUNITY FARM
8 Royal Street, SE1 7LL
An overgrown and neglected plot of land on the south side of Westminster Bridge, in the London Borough of Lambeth, Oasis has been transformed into a community farm supported by charities Jamie’s Farm and Oasis Hub Waterloo.
Eat & Drink: Walk to the South Bank Centre and have coffee and cake at the Queen Elizabeth Roof Garden or lunch in the Skylon restaurant with its view of the Thames.
15. BILLINGSGATE ROMAN BATHS
101 Lower Thames Street, EC3R 6DL
First discovered in 1848, these are some of London’s best Roman remains and the only accessible Roman house, comprising a late 2C house with a 3C bath house built within its courtyard.
Eat & Drink: Start your day early by visiting Billingsgate Fish Market and picking up a bargain for your supper.
16. THE GHERKIN
30 St Mary Axe, EC3A 8EP
30 St Mary Axe, affectionately known as the ‘Gherkin’, is a landmark 40-storey office building in the heart of London’s financial centre and is unlike any other ever conceived.
Eat & Drink: Enjoy 360-degree city views from the Searcy’s restaurant and bar on the top 3 floors of iconic tower.
17. MRS CUSTARD’S HOUSE
41A Lambert Road, SW2 5BB
With a cat called Mrs Custard and an architect firm named Mustard Architects, we couldn’t resist this one. Take a look at this cleverly designed house with its internal glazed and plant-filled courtyard and sleek contemporary kitchen.
Eat & Drink: Explore the various stalls at nearby Brixton market or head to Clapham for lunch at The Dairy.
18. THE KITCHEN ON WHEELS
24 Dorset Road, N22 7SL
A modest Victorian railway cottage remodelled to give flexibility between rooms for day- to-day activities and a larger living area when required. Parts of the kitchen move around on wheels in order to create more space.
19. KEW HOUSE
10 Cambridge Road, Kew, TW9 3JB
Remember this one from Grand Designs? The house was shortlisted for RIBA House of the Year 2015 and sits within a conservation area on the doorstep of Kew Gardens.
20. THE RAC CLUB
89 Pall Mall, SW1Y 5HS
The Royal Automobile Club was formed in 1897 to champion motorists and promote the motor car as a new form of transport. Its pioneering clubhouse was inspired by the French Beaux-Arts. It was described as the ‘Palace of Pall Mall’ with thrilling interior spaces in a mix of styles. Take one of the guided tours and you’ll see the Club’s facilities including the Great Gallery Restaurant
Eat & Drink: Go For Afternoon Tea at Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly
For full details of the 800 buildings, walks and tours included in this year’s Open House London visit the website: www.openhouselondon.open-city.org.uk
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