As mentioned in our previous post, mid-September brings opportunities to visit many properties that are normally closed to the public – thanks to Open House London.
Having visited the Guildhall, 100 Victoria Embankment and City Hall on Saturday, we chose three more to visit on Sunday 18th – The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Admiralty House (no photos allowed) and Freemasons’ Hall. In addition we chanced upon the Crown Court Church of Scotland, tucked away in the streets of Covent Garden, which was open for visitors even though it’s no longer eligible for inclusion in Open House – it’s not a Grade 1 listed church.
The Foreign Office
The Durbar Court
The first thing to say about the Foreign Office is that it was an unexpected delight. Secondly, it’s popular. Despite arriving at opening time, there was a huge queue. So if you are thinking of going next year, we’d recommend you get there early.
Since the EU referendum, this building is the base for three cabinet ministers and their departments – Secretaries of State for,
- Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – Boris Johnson
- Exiting the European Community – David Davis
- International Trade and President of the Board of Trade – Liam Fox
Imagine working in a place so full of history, surrounding by all manner of art and artefacts, together with the most incredible ceilings.
The Locarno Suite
At the top of this magnificent staircase is the office of the Foreign Secretary. Boris Johnson has certainly been fortunate over the last few years to work in some exceptional environments.
Goetze’s “Britannia Pacificatrix”
Whilst the entire building is stunning, the central dome is breathtaking.
As said in our previous post, the additional benefit of walking round London is the fact that you’re clocking up some steps – 10km of walking on both days.
- Memorial to Bali Bombings in Kuta, 2002
- Exterior of the Foreign Office
- Statue of Lord Mountbatton
- Westminster Abbey
- London Fashion Week
The Freemasons’ Hall
The secret society isn’t as secret as it once was. This place is open to the public for guided tours all year round.
Symbolism, geometry and a belief in a divine being feature prominently in Freemasonry.
The Four Cardinal Virtues of Freemasonry:
See also: http://www.ugle.org.uk/freemasons-hall
The Crown Court Church of Scotland
In contrast to the Art Deco of Freemasons’ Hall, this kirk dates from 1711 but was renovated at the turn of the 20th century. In common with its neighbouring Freemasons’ Hall, symmetry and stained glass windows are predominant but more simplicity and less grandeur is also prevalent.
The windows in this church are gems. Beautifully and naturally back-lit, they are such a contrast to the stark and almost invisible entrance to the church, situated on Russell Street.
See also: http://www.crowncourtchurch.org.uk/
When the current National Curriculum was being devised, Michael Gove suggested that all British students should know about Clive of India – the man responsible for laying the foundation for the British Raj. Now he may well be a stimulating character, but his relevance for young people today is somewhat limited.
Unless, of course, they’re particularly interested in the history of the British Empire, or happen to see his statue in Horse Guards Road.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to learn about Clive of India, or Cornwallis, or Robert the Bruce, or who the “Sarah” is in the Church of Scotland window – if that interest has been stirred by a search on the internet or by reading a book or an article in a newspaper or if it arises from a visit to a place of interest.
We’ve shared our photos and our sources of learning about places in London – but London isn’t the only place of interest in this country and we’d love to see your own posts about places of interest and the learning that’s happened as an outcome.