London Open House Weekend: why London is my favourite city

I’m trying to shortlist my choices and make an itinerary for this year’s London Open House Weekend – 22/23 September 2012.

Looking through the list of all the possible places to visit I’m overwhelmed by the architecture on offer in London.  Obviously I need to make some decisions and I’ve been to some of these buildings before.  Plus, I’ve promised we’re going to queue for the Gherkin.

My (not very short) shortlist so far…

  • 1 Finsbury Circus

    1 Finsbury Circus, London, England

    This Lutyens Grade II listed building has been comprehensively redeveloped to provide a high quality contemporary interior, with a fully glazed…

  • 100 Victoria Embankment – ‘Unilever House’

    100 Victoria Embankment, London, England

    Landmark curved Grade II listed building which has been transformed to give it a new lease of life. RIBA Award Winner 2009.


    18 Stafford Terrace – The Sambourne Family Home

    18 Stafford Terrace, London, England

    From 1875, the home of the Punch cartoonist Edward Linley Sambourne, his wife Marion, their two children and their live-in servants. Today, the house…

  • 30 St Mary Axe (The Gherkin)

    30 St Mary Axe, London, England

    30 St Mary Axe, affectionately known as the ‘Gherkin’, is a landmark curvilinear 40-storey office building in the heart of London’s financial centre…

  • 5 Lambert Jones Mews, Barbican

    5 Lambert Jones Mews, Barbican, London, England

    One of eight mews houses at western edge of the Barbican with direct access to the Barbican garden.


    Argentine Ambassador’s Residence

    49 Belgrave Square, London, England

    Known as the ‘Independent North Mansion’ and christened by Sydney Herbert as ‘Belgrave Villa’ and then simply ‘The Villa’ by his successor the 6th…


    Banqueting House

    Whitehall, London, England

    Stunning and regal building originally part of Whitehall Palace, one of the first examples of the principles of Palladianism being applied to an…

  • Beefeater Gin Distillery

    20 Montford Place, London, England

    Home to the only globally recognised gin still made in the capital. Merging the old with the new, its architecture combines Victorian style…

  • Benjamin Franklin House

    36 Craven Street, London, England

    A Grade I listed Georgian house, the only surviving home of Benjamin Franklin, retaining most of the original features including central staircase,…


    Caledonian Club

    9 Halkin Street, London, England

    Built in Neoclassical style by Detmar Blow for Hugh Morrison (1868-1931), the clubhouse at Number 9 was the last mansion house of its kind to be…


  • City Hall

    The Queen’s Walk, More London (from Tower Hill, walk across Tower Bridge), London, England

    Home of the Mayor of London and London Assembly, an environmentally-aware building with innovative spiral ramp and fine views across London.

  • Clapham House

    London, England

    Sensual, sculptural transformation of Victorian family home, interweaving house and garden. Of particular note is an iconic, lavishly-carved and…

  • Clissold House

    Clissold Park, Stoke Newington Church Street, London, England

    Recently restored elegant late 18C brick villa with six column Doric veranda on the west facade, set in parkland and a rare survivor of its type….

  • Custom House

    20 Lower Thames Street, London, England

    Elegant late-Georgian building partly rebuilt by Smirke after subsidence. The 58m long neo-classical Long Room was the central reporting point for…

  • Eltham College

    Grove Park Road, London, England

    Nine-bay mansion of 1700, much reworked, with remains of Adam-style decorations put in by the second Earl Bathurst (whose town house was Apsley…

  • Eltham Lodge

    Royal Blackheath Golf Club, Court Road, London, England

    Grade I listed Caroline mansion built for Sir John Shaw. Refurbished 18C with fine plaster, ceilings and staircase. Club house of Royal Blackheath…

  • Foreign Office & India Office

    King Charles Street, London, England

    Grade I listed Victorian government office buildings. Former India Office includes the magnificently decorated Durbar Court.

  • Fulham Palace

    Bishop’s Avenue, London, England

    Former residence of the Bishop of London. Tudor courtyard with Georgian additions and Butterfield chapel (1867). Reopened after Lottery funded…

  • Georgian House by Langland and Bell

    40 Myrdle Street, London, England

    A Georgian house dating from 1792, re-imagined by Turner Prize nominated artists Langlands and Bell, who lived in the house for nearly 30 years.


    Gunnersbury Park Museum & Park

    Gunnersbury Park, London, England

    Former home to the Rothschild family, now a museum set in beautiful 19C mansion on an elevated terrace overlooking lawns and parkland.

    Hidden House

    39 Russell Garden Mews, London, England

    A new build 2600 sq ft house as featured on Grand Designs. On four floors with a large basement living space and night club dance floor wrapped…

    • Horniman Museum and Gardens

      100 London Road, London, England

      A landmark building – Charles Harrison Townsend’s original arts and crafts building (1901) and his ideas on the arts and crafts aesthetic. The 16.5…


      Horse Guards

      Whitehall, London, England

      Grade I listed beautifully-detailed Palladian composition at the heart of Whitehall, for a hundred years HQ of the British Army. Duke of Wellington’s…

    • House Mill

      Three Mill Lane, London, England

      The UK’s oldest and largest tidal mill. 5-storey, timber-framed, brick-clad watermill with four waterwheels, originally built 1776 to mill grain for…

    • Hurlingham Club

      Ranelagh Gardens, London, England

      Last of the grand 18C mansions which once fronted this part of the river, with magnificent interiors and extensive grounds.

    • Ickenham Manor

      Address upon booking, Ickenham, Uxbridge, London, England

      Four-bay timber-framed Tudor Manor House, connected to a Medieval hall. Later additions include 16C stair tower and two 18C brick wings.

    • Jimi Hendrix Flat at Handel House Museum

      23 Brook Street (access via Handel House Museum at rear of building in Lancashire Court), London, England

      Rare opportunity to see the flat where Jimi Hendrix lived between 1968 and 1969. Flat now offices with sympathetic renovation and original features.

    • Kensington Palace

      Kensington Gardens (meet in the lobby area by the main ticket entrance to the palace), London, England

      Originally a Jacobean house, Kensington was adapted for Stuart and Georgian monarchs between 1689-1715 by the likes of Wren and Hawksmoor. Other…

    • Kevington Hall

      Crockenhill Road, Kevington, Orpington, London, England

      Grade II* listed square-plan red-brick and stone house inspired by Palladio, restored by present owners. Fine plastering in principal rooms and…

    • Kew Palace

      Royal Botanic Gardens, London, England

      Kew Palace (1631) became a Georgian Royal domestic retreat in 18C.

      Lambeth Palace

      Lambeth Palace Road, London, England

      Archbishop of Canterbury’s London home, dating from 13C; 19C work by Blore, and crypt vestibule opened 2000.

      • Langtons House

        Billet Lane, Hornchurch, London, England

        Grade II listed neo-Georgian house from c1760 with later additions. Landscaped garden with lake, orangery and gazebo.

      • Leighton House

        12 Holland Park Road, London, England

        Originally home and studio of Lord Leighton, President of the Royal Academy, the house is one of the most remarkable buildings of 19C. Extraordinary…


        Linden House

        60 Upper Mall, London, England

        Grade II listed, elegant double-fronted Georgian riverside residence (1733) owned by The London Corinthian Trust. Original 18C frontage with 19C and…

      • Morden Park House

        London Road (behind Merton College), Morden, London, England

        Grade II listed fine 1770 house in extensive grounds built for John Ewart on part of the Morden Hall Estate, now the Borough Register Office.

      • Myddelton House

        Bulls Cross, Enfield, London, England

        Neo-classical yellow Suffolk stock brick villa with mid 19C extension to north and west front. Victorian conservatory to side. Adam style ceilings to…

      • Nonsuch Mansion

        Ewell Road, Cheam, London, England

        Tudor Gothic mansion, designed for wealthy merchant Samuel Farmer, in the style later used at Windsor Castle. The service wing has been restored and…

      • Old Royal Naval College – King Charles Court

        West Gate (King William Walk), or East Gate (Park Row) and Romney Road crossing. Entry from pier via Cutty Sark Gardens SE10 9LW, London, England

        King Charles Court – earliest of the buildings, designed by Wren for Charles II in 1661. Refurb by John McAslan & Partners in 2001. Home to Trinity…

      • Old Royal Naval College – King William Court

        West Gate (King William Walk), or East Gate (Park Row) and Romney Road crossing. Entry from pier via Cutty Sark Gardens SE10 9LW, London, England

        Wren-designed building completed under the direction of Hawksmoor and Vanbrugh, 1698-1712. Original wood panelling, refurbished by Dannat Johnson in…

      • Old Royal Naval College – Painted Hall, Chapel, Discover Greenwich

        West Gate (King William Walk), or East Gate (Park Row) and Romney Road crossing. Entry from pier via Cutty Sark Gardens, London, England

        Hall ceiling painted by Sir James Thornhill 1708-27. Neo-classical chapel designed by James ‘Athenian’ Stuart 1789.

        Old Royal Naval College – Queen Anne Court

        West Gate (King William Walk), or East Gate (Park Row) and Romney Road crossing. Entry from pier via Cutty Sark Gardens SE10 9LW, London, England

        Wren & Hawksmoor building, completed 1749 when Thomas Ripley built the pavilions facing the river. Highlights include council board room, grand…

        • Osborne House

          12 Devonshire Square, London, England

          Fine Grade II listed mid-Georgian house, well preserved internally with beautiful ornate cornices and plasterwork. Now HQ of National Association of…

        • Park Lane Hotel

          Piccadilly, London, England

          One of London’s finest monuments to Art Deco architecture features original marble bathrooms, fireplaces and recently restored Grade II listed…

        • Pitzhanger Manor House

          Walpole Park, Mattock Lane, London, England

          Former country residence designed by Sir John Soane for his own use, set in the grounds of Walpole Park. Grade I listed building, expressing Soane’s…

        • Pushkin House

          5a Bloomsbury Square, London, England

          A centre of Russian culture in London, this Grade II* listed house has a fine staircase which has been meticulously restored.

        • Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge

          Rangers Road, Chingford, London, England

          Unique Grade II listed atmospheric timber-framed hunt-standing, commissioned by Henry VIII, set amongst ancient pollards of Epping Forest. 1589…

        • Queen’s House: Royal Museums Greenwich

          National Maritime Museum, Park Row, London, England

          The opulent summer villa of Charles I’s queen, Henrietta Maria, this is the first purely classical Renaissance building in Britain which reflected a…

        • Royal College of Pathologists

          2 Carlton House Terrace, London, England

          A light and spacious modern interior which maintains the spirit of the original Nash shape. Recent refurbishment includes new education centre in a…

        • Royal Victoria Dock tours on board the River Princess

          Beside the south end of footbridge, Victoria Place, Victoria Dock, London, England

          Built in 1856 expressly for steam ships, Victoria Dock was the first of four docks that are collectively known as the Royal Docks. Once home to…

        • Senate House

          University of London, Malet Street, London, England

          London’s tallest secular building when it opened in the 1930s as the administrative HQ of the University of London, this Grade II listed landmark…

          Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings

          37 Spital Square, London, England

          Richly panelled 1740s former Huguenot silk merchant’s house, on the site of the Medieval hospital of St Mary Spital. Now HQ of SPAB.

          • Sundridge Park

            Willoughby Lane, off Plaistow Lane, Bromley, London, England

            Beautiful mansion building by John Nash (1797) with landscaping by Humphry Repton. Completed by Samuel Wyatt who designed the fine interiors, roofs…

          • Swakeleys House

            Swakeleys Road, Ickenham (access from Milton Road), London, England

            By far the most important house in Ickenham and an outstanding example of a Jacobean country house built in the 1630s. The house is constructed of…

          • Swedish Ambassador’s Residence

            27 Portland Place (entrance in New Cavendish Street), London, England

            Part of the best Adam group of houses on what was one of the most significant new speculative street developments of its day. Excellent interior with…

          • The Art Workers Guild

            6 Queen Square, London, England

            1713 terraced house with hall at rear (F W Troup 1914). Notable renovated Arts and Crafts interior. Portraits of Guild Masters since 1884.

          • The Royal Society

            6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, England

            Grade I listed Nash-designed town houses, refurbished in the 1890s before conversion into the German Embassy. 2004 refurbishment provided additional…

          • The White House

            46 Park View Road, London, England

            Louis XV Palace set in own private gardens, based on owner’s grandmother’s palace in Poland. Marble Arch’ entrance %ufffd the first in London for 200…

          • Tottenham Green Conservation Area

            Meet: Sun 11am outside Tottenham Town Hall, Town Hall Approach Road, London, England

            External historical guided tour around the buildings of Tottenham Green including 18C Georgian houses, 19C Jewish Hospital, Prince of Wales Hospital…

          • Tower 42

            25 Old Broad Street, London, England

            The City of London’s tallest occupied building, consisting of three hexagonal chevrons, at 601ft was the first to break previous restrictions on tall…

          • Tower Bridge Exhibition

            Tower Bridge Road, London, England

            Two massive piers were sunk into the river bed to support the construction, with over 11,000 tonnes of steel providing the framework for the towers…

            Trinity House

            Tower Hill, London, England

            Fine late Georgian exterior with interior painstakingly reconstructed after destruction by incendiary bomb in 1940. Good fittings, statues and works…

            • Tudor Barn and Gardens

              Well Hall Pleasaunce, Well Hall Road, London, England

              16C restored barn set in grounds with Medieval moat, only surviving building from ‘Well Hall’, home to Margaret Roper, daughter of Sir Thomas More,…


              Twickenham Museum

              25 The Embankment, Twickenham, London, England

              Grade II listed former waterman’s cottage c1720. Recently restored and converted by Anthony Beckles Willson into museum celebrating rich local…

            • Two Temple Place

              2 Temple Place, London, England

              Two Temple Place was finished in 1895 for the first Viscount Astor, William Waldorf Astor, to the elaborate architectural specifications of John…

            • Valence House

              Becontree Avenue, Dagenham, London, England

              Grade II* listed 15C manor house with Medieval moat. Recently discovered late 16C wall painting and impressive oak panelling. Reopened 2010 with new…

            • Valentines Mansion

              Emerson Road, Ilford, London, England

              Large, late 17C Grade II* listed house with fine staircase and Venetian window and with Georgian additions, used as a family dwelling until the early…

            • White Lodge

              Richmond Park (nearest gate Sheen Gate), London, England

              Commissioned as a royal hunting residence, a Grade I listed English Palladian villa, inspired by the high renaissance design principles of Palladio…

            • William Morris Society – Kelmscott House

              26 Upper Mall, London, England

              Residence of Sir Francis Ronalds, George MacDonald and (from 1878-96) William Morris (organised by William Morris Society).

            • Wrotham Park

              Wrotham Park, Barnet, London, England

              A privately-owned Grade II listed Palladian mansion with grand interiors restored in 1883, set in 300 acres of parkland in the midst of 2,500 acres….

            • York House

              Richmond Road, London, England

              Mid-17C house, a scheduled ancient monument, with fine staircase and 18C additions.


10 thoughts on “London Open House Weekend: why London is my favourite city

    1. But I am trying. Past experience tells me to pick a part of town and commit to it.

      So far…

      Ambassadors, politics & the exotic?

      • 10am: Swedish Ambassador’s residence, 27 Portland Place (nr Harley/Regent St) Sat 10-12, last entry 1140 (Georgian – RA)
      • 11am: Pushkin House, 5A Bloomsbury Sq – 11-4 both days
      • 12pm: The Art Workers Guild, 6 Queen Square (nr Russell Sq) 12-6pm on Saturday (Georgian)
      • 1pm: Argentinean Embassy 49 Belgrave Sq, Sat: 12-5pm
      • 2.30pm: Reform Club
      • 4pm: SPAB – Sat 10-5 – 37 Spital Square

      • early: The Gherkin – from 9am Sunday
      • As & when: Queen’s House, Greenwich – 10-5 both days
      • Other Greenwich places

  1. Here’s where we ended up:

    Ambassadors, politics & the exotic?

    • 10am: Swedish Ambassador’s residence, 27 Portland Place (nr Harley/Regent St) Sat 10-12, last entry 1140 (Georgian – RA)
    • 12pm: Argentinean Embassy 49 Belgrave Sq, Sat: 12-5pm
    • 2pm: Marlborough House
    • 2.30pm: Reform Club

    • arrived 7am (we got in at 9am): The Gherkin
    • 12pm: Queen’s House, Greenwich
    • 1.30-3pm: the Royal Naval Hospital – painted hall, chapel and a tour of the Admiral’s House.

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