As weekend plans go, staying at home might not sound all that exciting…
…unless it’s the home of the Argentine Ambassador, a 16th century shipwright, or the past 120 Bishops of London.
For three decades, Open House Weekend has provided the public with legitimate ways to be nosy by throwing open the doors to private houses, mansions, libraries, clock towers, factories and other buildings of particular architectural interest, to all and sundry… for free. And to celebrate their 30th anniversary, this year Open House Weekend is turning into an Open House Fortnight.
Hackney Town Hall
Taking place between 8th – 21st September, Open House 2022 will see hundreds of usually private buildings across the capital open their doors to the public. Buildings like Mansion House, aka the official residence of the Lord Mayor of the City of London; 10 Downing Street; the Guildhall; masonic temples; members’ clubs; and everyone’s favourite, the Southwark Integrated Waste Management Facility.
It’s not just grand interiors, though. Each year, hundreds of private homes, offices and cultural spaces open too. This year, you can also take a peek into the iconic Trellick Tower; see a couple of renovated homes (many of which have featured in The Modern House); check out one of the Huguenot weavers houses in the time-warped streets of Spitalfields; or step into an original WW2 Anderson bomb shelter in someone’s back garden.
And there’s plenty of quirkiness on offer, too: there’s the Bow Street Police Museum; a strangely beautiful art deco pumping station; the eerie pathological museum at Barts Hospital; a chapel made of corrugated iron (with the interiors of a battleship); a subterranean Roman amphitheatre and a Victorian watermill where Liberty silks were prepared.
Kempton Steam Museum
You can just turn up to most of the buildings at any time of day, though you might have to queue for some of the smaller or more popular ones. There’s also a few that you’ll have to book in advance, like the clock tower overlooking St. Pancras station, or any of the walking tours, workshops or late events.
But don’t worry, they’re still on the house.
NOTE: Open House 2022 takes place 8th – 21st September, and is completely free. To check out the full list of places you can visit, and to book a free spot for the more popular ones, head HERE.
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