Open House London 2018

Open House London 2018 takes place on Saturday 22nd September & Sunday 23rd September. The Open House London weekend will see over 800 buildings open to the public (some which do not usually have public access.)

City of Westminster

Portcullis House

Portcullis House was designed & built by Michael Hopkins and Partners in 2001. The need for an extension to the parliamentary estate had been apparent since the late 1980’s. The reconstruction of Westminster Station allowed construction of Portcullis House, a new free standing building with office space, two restaurants, a Cafè & E-Library.

Visitors to Portcullis House can marvel at its spectacular atrium, view the contemporary art collection & take a seat & photo on a replica of a Commons iconic green bench. Other highlights include talks about Parliament & the Palace of Westminster.

Portcullis House (Photo by Colin on Flickr!)

Open House Access
Saturday 22nd September 2018 10:00-17:00

Visiting Notes | Expect long queues.

Westminster Hall

Westminster Hall was built in 1097 under William II (the son of William the Conqueror) & is the oldest building in Parliament.

Westminster Hall (Photo by Thom Thai on Flickr!)

Open House Access
Sunday 23rd September 10:00-17:00

Visiting Notes | Pre-booking is required for St Mary’s Undercroft Chapel Tours.

Banqueting House

The Banqueting House is the last remaining building from Whitehall Palace, home to a magnificent ceiling painted by Sir Peter Paul Rubens & the execution site of King Charles I. The building was designed by Inigo Jones in the Palladian style for King James I & was completed in 1622.

A Brief History of The Banqueting House

At the time of its destruction by a fire in 1698 Whitehall Palace was the largest palace in Europe. Whitehall Palace was originally called York Place having been established by Archbishop of York Water de Grey in 1240. The most famous resident of York Place, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey expanded York Place to such an extent that it was the largest house in London, second only to Lambeth Palace.

After Cardinal Wolsey fell from favour with King Henry VIII York Place was seized (along with Hampton Court) & become the property of the King. York Place was renamed Whitehall Palace & become the home of King Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn, at the time Henry was still married to Katharine of Aragon but the lack of Queens Apartments at the palace meant that Katherine would not live at Whitehall. Henry & Anne set about enlarging Whitehall Palace & an act of parliament in 1536 made the palace Henry’s principal seat.

The first Banqueting House was a brick & timber building clad in canvas where Queen Elizabeth I would meet potential suitors & host state visits. Elizabeth’s successor King James I frequently used the Banqueting House as a venue to host performances called Masques. James I commissioned the architect Robert Stickells to construct a larger, modern Banqueting House. Stickells creation proved unpopular with the King & after it was destroyed by a fire in 1619 the architect Inigo Jones was commissioned to build a replacement.

The current Banqueting House was completed in 1622, Jones designed it in the Palladian style & the structure was the first Classical building in London. The tradition of hosting Masques in the Banqueting House continued throughout the reign of King Charles I & in 1629/1630 he commissioned the artist Peter Paul Rubens to decorate the Banqueting House’s ceiling with nine magnificent murals. The murals were installed in 1636 & depict scenes from the reign of James I including the Union of the English & Scottish crowns, The Apotheosis of James I & The Peaceful Reign of James I.

Open House Access
Saturday 22nd September 10:00-17:00
Sunday 23rd September 10:00-17:00

Visiting Notes | There is no access to the balcony.

Somerset House

Somerset House was designed by William Chambers & completed 1801. The house has been home to the Royal Academy of Arts, the Royal Society, the General Register Office & the Inland Revenue. Today Somerset House is open to the public and regularly hosts concerts & other public events.

Somerset House

Open House Access
Saturday 22nd September 11:00-18:00
Sunday 23rd September 11:00-18:00

Visiting Notes | 

Unilever House

10 Downing Street

Royal Borough of Greenwich

Old Royal Naval College

The Old Royal Naval College is Sir Christopher Wren’s riverside masterpiece, built in the 17th Century as the Royal Hospital for Seamen the on the site of the Tudor Palace of Placentia. The Old Royal Naval College boasts beautiful surroundings & the Chapel of St Peter & St Paul in Queen Mary Court. The Painted Hall in King William Court is home to the largest painted ceiling in Europe, a masterpiece by Sir James Thornhill depicting over 30 years of English aristocracy & British Naval Power.

Old Royal Naval College, Royal Borough of Greenwich

Open House Access
Saturday 22nd September 10:00-17:00
Sunday 23rd September 10:00-17:00

Visiting Notes | Pre-booking is required for this building.

National Maritime Museum & The Queens House

The National Maritime Museum is the largest museum in the world dedicated to maritime and naval history. Opened in 1937 by King George VI the museum is home to over 2 million items including art, charts, maps, memorabilia & artefacts.

The Queens House was the first classical building in England, built by Inigo Jones for Queen Anne of Denmark, wife of King James I. Now over 400 years old the house has been extensively refurbished and is home to an internationally renowned art collection.
aThe Queens House, Royal Borough of Greenwich

Open House Access
Saturday 22nd September 10:00-17:00
Sunday 23rd September 10:00-17:00

Visiting Notes | 

Fan Museum

The fan museum was the first of its kind and is situated in a pair of restored Grade II listed town houses dating from 1721. It is the only museum in the UK dedicated to the history of fans and is home to numerous exhibits & the orangery which serves afternoon tea in a picturesque setting.
Fan Museum, Royal Borough of Greenwich

Open House Access | Saturday 22nd September 2018, 11:00-17:00

St. Alfege Church

Open House Access | Saturday 22nd September 2018, 10:00-16:00

Other Buildings

Bridge Theatre

US Embassy (The Cube)

American Embassy (The Cube), Vauxhall

Open House Access | Saturday 22nd September 2018, 09:45-13:15 (Pre-booking is required for this building, expect queues & airport style security)

Marine Police Headquarters

Marine Police Headquarters, Wapping

Open House Access | Saturday 22nd & Sunday 23rd September 2018, 11:00-17:00