Open House London Lets You See Some Usually Inaccessible Buildings For Free:
We have our friend Neil to thank for making us aware of Open House London, an annual London event when some 700 buildings are open to the public and admission is FREE. Open House London takes place on a weekend in September and as we were in London at that time, Neil thought we would enjoy visiting some buildings that are usually inaccessible to the public.
About Open House London
Open House is a concept which was created in London 19 years ago and it is fast spreading to other cities around the world. This cultural London event celebrates the city’s buildings, places and neighbourhoods and gives Londoners, and visitors like us, the opportunity to get an insight into some of London’s architecture and to appreciate how these buildings play a role in making London a liveable city.
All kinds of London’s buildings are open to the public on this Open House weekend – grand, small, iconic, famous and obscure.
To find out which sites are open, you can get an Open House guide which is usually available in August. The guide provides a brief description of the building, the name of the architect, and each building’s address, opening days and hours. It also gives practical information like access to disabled visitors, whether you have to pre-book, amenities and available transport. There are neighbourhood walks, cycle tours, architects’ talks and debates taking place – all for free.
Open House is a very popular event and over a quarter of a million people take advantage of this great opportunity to explore London’s architecture. So, you can expect to see queues at the more famous buildings.
Our Open House Weekend Experience
We were hoping to get into the Banqueting House, but the stern official at the door advised that this site required pre-booking.
In the vicinity is the HQS Wellington so we paid this merchant navy ship a visit. We had an interesting and educative tour of this ship and learned about the British Merchant Navy and the role that the Merchant Navy played during the Second World War. Another stop we made was at the old art-deco headquarters of the Daily Express whose lobby is spectacular. There was a huge queue here, but the Open House event was quite well organized and visitors did get to go into the building.
We weren’t organized and saw whatever we could during that afternoon. However, for anyone who plans well, you could get to see quite a lot of London’s magnificent buildings, and it’s all free.
Event: Open House 2011
Dates: September 17 & 18