The 2023 Open House programme runs 6-16 September.
The annual September festival offers visitors a chance to go inside buildings that are usually off-limits to the public, and see some of the capital's architectural wonders and anomalies, via open days and guided tours. It's through Open House that we've previously found ourselves inside the St Pancras clock tower, and on the roof of TfL's former HQ at 55 Broadway, among many other thrilling places.
It's a cracking chance to explore bits of London that you'd never normally get to see. Here's a few things that've taken our fancy for 2023:
- A tour of the BT Tower: The headline act for this year's Open House, take a 45-minute tour of the iconic BT Tower, including ascending to the revolving viewing platform 158m above the ground. This one is expected to be popular so tickets are allocated by ballot.
- Saddlers' Hall, St Paul's: Usually, multiple livery halls in the City take part in Open House, but the home of the Worshipful Company of Saddlers seems to be the only one this year. The neo-classical style interior is furnished with period furniture, and objects from the company's history dating back to the 15th century.
- Prince Henry's Room, Fleet Street: We've been itching to get inside this one since we spotted the sign to a now-closed museum. It's one of the few buildings in the City which survived the Great Fire into our own times, and has one of the best-preserved Jacobian enriched plaster ceilings, which few people get to see.
- London Fire Brigade Memorial Hall, Lambeth: London Fire Brigade's grade-II listed Memorial Hall, part of the LFB Headquarters, has an open day, when the public can view memorials by Gilbert Bayes commemorating firefighters lost protecting London.
- Bank/Monument Station: Alright, so the Bank-Monument station isn't exactly off-limits to the public, but these guided tours give you an insight into the history of the two stations, long merged into one large subterranean complex, as well as the recent renovation project.
- The Old Deanery, St Paul's: A 350-year old mansion house, originally built as a residential home for the Dean of St Paul's Cathedral, and now used as an administrative office for the Bishop of London.
- Kingston Liberal Synagogue: A Victorian school which was converted into a synagogue in the 1970s. Visit on the open day to learn about the building's history, and the Jewish history of the local area.
- London Scottish House, Pimlico: A former Territorial Army drill hall on Horseferry Road, far more beautiful inside than the exterior would have you believe, with restored late-Victorian wrought iron roof structures and galleries.
Browse the Open House 2023 map for further events. Note that many of the pins represent walking or cycling tours, rather than individual landmarks that open to the public. Rather confusingly, many of the venues which are taking part in Open House aren't on the map at time of writing — including the ever-popular St Pancras Clock Tower and BAPS Temple in Neasden — so if there's a particular building you've got in mind, try typing it into the search bar at the top of the Open House website.
This year, Open House Festival is spread over two weekends instead of just the one, something which was trialled for the first time last year.
Open House London 2023 runs 6-17 September. Many events require booking in advance — you'll need to create a free account on the Open House website in order to do so.