Open House London pictures

A couple of weeks ago, we finally got around to taking part in Open House London. Every September the doors of hundreds of London buildings are flung open and the public are welcomed inside to marvel at the beautiful, the historical and the ingenious. It’s an opportunity to see some of the most wonderful sights that the city has to offer, free of charge, and thousands of people turn up to take in the sights.

Ancient and modern are never far from each other in London.

We’d planned a City of London based itinerary, including seven buildings. Starting from Lloyd’s of London, we planned to walk west and finish at the house of fellow Lichfield man Dr Johnson, via Leadenhall Market, the Bank of England, the Guildhall, St Mary-le-Bow and Fleet Street.

After I shared our plans, I was quickly told how ambitious it was to aim for seven buildings in one day. Apparently the queues at Lloyd’s alone were going to scupper the itinerary. I took this as a challenge, dragged Mrs Woodall out of bed an hour earlier than planned and headed into town…where we fitted in a grand total of three visits, to Lloyd’s, Leadenhall Market and the Bank of England.

So, yes, Open House London is very popular and the queues to get in to many of the properties are very long. We’ll go back next year with more nous and a better plan. In the meantime, we’re determined to return to a lot of the places we didn’t get to see as soon as possible, and tell our friends about the places we did, which is presumably exactly what Open House London is all about.

I have posted pictures of Lloyd’s and Leadenhall Market, but photography was not allowed in the Bank – presumably to prevent you casing the joint. So, you’ll have to join the queues next year to see inside this ten floor, fortress like labyrinth of stone corridors and grand rooms. The 30 minute tour takes you through the Governor’s office, some very fine recption rooms and the garden, which has survived due to occupying a consecrated former churchyard. The visit finishes off in the excellent museum, which is open all of the time and offers the opportunity to handle a gold bar – currently worth over £400,ooo.

The Lloyd’s building is known as the Inside-Out building, as its staircases, lifts, electrical power conduits and water pipes are on the outside, leaving an uncluttered space inside.

Inside Lloyd’s – one can only speculate whether weekdays witness a hushed reverance or organised chaos.

Lloyd’s has a long tradition of backing maritime trade and the navy, and houses many fine items such as a letter sent by Nelson from HMS Victory eleven days before his death at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Leadenhall Market, a classic cast-iron Victorian covered market.

Queuing for the Bank of England took up to three hours, but offered a fine view of the Royal Exchange (shown here) and Mansion House

Three great British institutions – the Bank of England, rain, and an orderly queue