Open House London 2018: What to buildings to visit and tips

Foreign Office © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Visit the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in Whitehall

It’s that time of year again – when Londoners get the chance to peek inside buildings that are normally off-limits. Taking place on 22-23 September 2018, Open House London is essentially a festival of architecture and design, where a huge range of buildings from homes to Government buildings to skyscrapers allow the public to step inside. Many museums which usually cost to enter are also taking part so you can visit for free. While it’s probably too late by now to enter some of the ballots or ticketed entry slots, there are tons of other places just waiting to be explored. This year marks the 26th year of Open House London, with over 800 properties taking place. Some popular venues, such as the Gherkin and the Billingsgate Roman Bath House, are likely to have long queues. With that in mind, here’s my guide to making the most of Open House London. This guide lists a selection of reviews and photos of buildings already visited by Metro Girl, as well as tips and advice for making the most of the weekend.

Tips on making the most of Open House London

  • Comprise a list of places you hope to visit and also a few back-ups if the queues are too long by searching Open House’s official website, buy a hard copy of the guide here or download the free app available on Apple or Google Play.
  • Check out TFL’s website to make sure there are no engineering works affecting your transportation to the sites.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and check the weather forecast to inspire suitable clothing. You will be walking and standing a lot.
  • Start early – many of the sites open around 10am or 11am, but some even earlier. If you get there before they open, you could beat the queues.
  • Make sure your phone and/or camera are fully charged and bring a portable charger if you have one so you can search online maps and share photos on social media.
  • Bring ID – some official buildings or skyscrapers may want to check you out before letting you enter.
  • Go the toilet whenever you find one. Some of the more unusual buildings may not have any available facilities or you could end up desperate while waiting in a very long queue.
  • Make sure you don’t carry too much in your bag, as security searches are expected.
  • Bring your lunch with you – you’ll have plenty of time to eat it if you end up queuing.
  • Share your discoveries on social media under the hashtag #openhouselondon. This is also handy for checking out where the long queues are.
  • Follow Open House London on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

Metro Girl’s reviews and photos of Open House buildings

Banqueting House. Only surviving building from Whitehall Palace, built in 1619. Open Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm. Banqueting House, Whitehall, SW1A 2ER. Nearest stations: Westminster, Charing Cross or Embankment.

Billingsgate bath house. Roman home and bath ruins in the basement of a modern office building, dating back to 2nd-3rd century and discovered in the 19th century. Open Saturday and Sunday 11am-4pm (queues likely). 101 Lower Thames Street, EC3R 6DL. Nearest station: Monument.

Caroline Gardens Chapel. Partially-derelict Georgian chapel used as an arts and event space, built 1827. Open Sunday 10am-5pm. Asylum Road, Peckham, SE15 2SQ. Nearest station: Queens Road Peckham.

Charlton House. London’s only surviving Jacobean mansion, built in 1607. Open Sunday 10am-4pm (tours at 11am and 2pm). Charlton House, Charlton Road, Charlton, SE7 8RE. Nearest station: Charlton.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Check out the stunning Crystal Palace Subway

Crystal Palace Subway. Victorian subway connecting what used to be a train station to the site of the Crystal Palace, built 1865. Open Sunday 10am-5pm (queues likely). Crystal Palace Parade, Crystal Palace, SE19 1LG. Nearest station: Crystal Palace.

Dennis Severs House. Georgian townhouse and unique setting for a historic ‘still-life drama’, built in 1724. Open Saturday 12-4pm (queues expected). 18 Folgate Street, Spitalfields, E1 6BX. Nearest stations: Liverpool Street or Shoreditch High Street.

Emery Walker’s House. Georgian terrace styled in authentic arts and crafts interiors. Open Sunday 2pm-5pm (queues likely). 7 Hammersmith Terrace, Hammersmith, W6 9TS. Nearest station: Stamford Brook.

Fitzrovia Chapel. Victorian designed chapel, designed 1891, completed 1929. Open Sunday 10am-5pm. Pearson Square, Fitzrovia, W1T 3BF. Nearest station: Goodge Street or Tottenham Court Road.

Granada Tooting (Gala Bingo Hall). Former Art Deco cinema with neo-renaissance interiors, now used as a bingo hall, built in 1931. Open Sunday 9am-12pm. 50-60 Mitcham Road, Tooting, SW17 9NA. Nearest station: Tooting Broadway

Leadenhall Market. Victorian covered market, built in 1881. Open Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm (regular tours). Access from Gracechurch Street, Lime Street and Whittington Avenue, City of London, EC3V 1LT. Nearest station: Monument or Fenchurch Street.

Middle Temple Hall. Elizabethan Hall with hammerbeam roof. Open Sunday 1pm-5pm (queues likely). Middle Temple Lane, EC4Y 9AT. Nearest station: Temple.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Visit the beautiful Fitzrovia Chapel

Roman’ Bath. 17th century plunge bath, originally part of the old Somerset House. Open Sunday 12pm-5pm. Strand Lane (access via Surrey Street steps), WC2R 2NA. Nearest station: Temple.

The Royal Society’s Carlton House Terrace. Grade II-listed townhouses designed by John Nash, now used as the HQ of the Royal Society. Built in 1828. Open Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm. 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, St James, SW1Y 5AG. Nearest station: Green Park, Piccadilly Circus or Charing Cross.

Temple Church. Medieval church modified by Christopher Wren. Open Sunday 1pm-4pm. Fleet Street, City of London, EC4Y 7BB. Nearest station: Temple or City Thameslink.

Westminster Hall. Medieval hall in the Palace of Westminster, built in 14th century. Open Sunday 10am-5pm. House of Commons (Cromwell Green entrance), SW1A 0AA. Nearest station: Westminster.

William Morris Society. Georgian house and former home to arts and crafts pioneer William Morris. Open Saturday and Sunday 11am-5pm. 26 Upper Mall, Hammersmith, W6 9TA. Nearest station: Ravenscourt Park or Hammersmith.

Highlights gallery from Royal Courts of Justice, Foreign Office & City Hall.

  • City Hall. Headquarters for the London Assembly, built in 2002. Open Saturday 10am-5pm. The Queen’s Walk, SE1 2AA. Nearest stations: London Bridge or Tower Hill.
  • Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Victorian government buildings, built in 1861. Open Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm. King Charles Street, Whitehall, SW1A 2AH. Nearest station: Westminster.
  • Royal Courts of Justice. Victorian, Neo-Gothic hallowed courts of the law, built in 1874. Open Saturday 10am-4pm. Strand, WC2A 2LL. Nearest stations: Holborn or Temple.

Highlights gallery from William Booth College, Royal College Of Nursing and UK Supreme Court at Middlesex Guildhall.

  • Royal College of Nursing. Office combining 1920s purpose-built structure and converted Georgian townhouse. Open Saturday 10am-5pm. 20 Cavendish Square, Marylebone, W1G 0RN. Nearest station: Oxford Circus.
  • UK Supreme Court at Middlesex Guildhall. Grade II-listed Neo-Gothic building dating back to 1913. Open Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm. Parliament Square, Westminster, SW1P 3BD. Nearest station: Westminster.
  • William Booth College. Grade II-listed headquarters for the Salvation Army, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. Built in 1929. Open Saturday 10am-5pm. Champion Park, Camberwell, SE5 8BQ. Nearest station: Denmark Hill.

For more of Metro Girl’s history posts, click here.

For a guide to what else is on in London in September, click here.

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About Metro Girl

Media professional who was born, brought up and works in London. My blog is a guide to London - what's on, festivals, history, reviews and attractions, as well as the odd travel piece. All images on my blog are © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl, unless otherwise specified. Do not use without seeking permission first.

Posted on 18 September 2018, in Activities, Architecture, History, London, Tourist Attractions and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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