Bravo to the team at Open House for another amazing opportunity to see inside London buildings not normally open to the general public. Chartered Accountants’ Hall normally joins in, but because of an extensive two year refurbishment decided to pass this year.
Due to an excellent seventy somethingth birthday thrown by Philip Taylor in the Reform (“in case he doesn’t make it to his 75th”) we actually awoke in one of the buildings in Open House. Being in Pall Mall, we thought a round trip of Marlborough House, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Banqueting House might be possible – and indeed it was.
All the buildings were stunning. Marlborough House (sadly unbeknownst to me before the visit) is a royal palace and the international HQ of the Commonwealth. Passing through the Blenheim Room (“one of the handsomest rooms in London”) we eventually made it to the State Drawing Room with the oversized meeting table set up for every country in the Commonwealth.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office continued the theme of intimidating foreign visitors (back in them olden times) with spectacular architecture and art, the Locarno Suite being a highlight. What was surprising is how long this was hidden under plasterboard and pigeon droppings before being unearthed during extensive restoration in recent years (and still ongoing).
The Banqueting House has been on the to-do list for a long time, and it was worth the wait. The Rubens ceiling pays some time spent studying it, with some handily placed bean bags providing an ideal viewing opportunity as well as somewhere to rest!
We will certainly be back next year.