London’s buildings are a rich and diverse mixture of old, new, immense, tiny, high, low, sacred, secular…. The list of comparisons could go on and on. As anyone who reads our blog regularly will know, we, along with millions of others, find the rich diversity of this great city infinitely fascinating.
“Open Sesame” is the famous magical phrase used to gain access to secret treasures in One Thousand and One Nights. Here in London we have our own magic word. “Open House” is not such a romantic phrase, but the jewels it reveals are just as wonderful as Aladdin’s cave of treasure.
Last weekend Open House London 2015 got underway. This fantastic annual architectural feast takes place on the third weekend of September each year. Hundreds of London’s buildings open their doors to the public, free of charge. Every London borough participates, so you can look around interesting buildings in your locality, or go up to the centre of London to explore the interior of some of London’s most famous, most interesting and most mysterious buildings. Hardened enthusiasts buy the catalogue as soon as it appears and immediately book the ‘superstar’ buildings, most of which have to be booked beforehand because they are so popular.
But if, like me, you are a little less organised, you can roll up on the day and there are still hundreds of buildings inviting you to take a look. Some have guided tours, others just let you wander. Some are often open to the public, for others this is the only chance you will get to see inside.
The beautiful weather at the weekend meant that there were many people to be seen strolling around with the bright green catalogue in their hand, deciding which buildings to investigate. Some of the buildings had queues, although there were many that we could walk straight in to.
We stayed within the square mile of The City this year, mainly because there are buildings which are very relevant to our next book. We had a great time poking our noses in to churches, guild halls (as well as Guildhall) and offices, enjoying views from, as well as of, the inside.
What a brilliant idea Open House London is. What an enjoyable way to Step Outside in London. Next September you will have a chance to explore Open House London for the 24th time. But in the meantime, you can still explore London’s environment, inside and out, with Step Outside’s fabulous guidebooks to cost-free family days in London. So don’t wait another year – get exploring with a Step Outside Guide!
And our next book? Step Outside Guide number seven is publishing in Spring 2016 and we feel so impatient to share it with you all. It’s shaping up nicely, with all the delights you have come to expect from our little books, so follow us on Facebook or Twitter and we’ll keep you up to date.
Fabulous Guildhall from Guildhall Yard