Two Temple Place has one of the most remarkable interiors in London and for three months a year you can see inside Two Temple Place for free. Every Spring it plays host to an exhibition that showcases items owned by Britain’s regional museums. This year the exhibition is Unbound: Visionary Women Collecting Textiles a veritable cornucopia textiles.
INSIDE TWO TEMPLE PLACE
William Waldorf Astor gave his architect an unlimited budget to build an estate office with some living space above in 1895. Everywhere you look is ornate wooden panelling and sumptuous stained glass. The central staircase that connects the working and living spaces is crowned with a stained glass ceiling.
William Waldorf Astor liked books and history, we know this because the interior is scattered liberally with literary references. The ornate mahogany carvings on the central staircase depict Shakespearian heroes. But pride of place is reserved for his all time top favourite book; Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. Each newel post is topped by an eighteen inch high stature of the novel’s characters.
Not content with Shakespeare and Dumas, there are yet more literary references upstairs. The door into the magnificent main room is decorated with nine silver gilt reliefs showing Arthurian heroines.
At either end of this grand room is yet more stained glass. Sunset is depicted in the one at the west end of the room: it is entitled Alpine Lanscape and was created by Clayton and Bell.
Even the entrance to the ladies’ loo is ornate. I had never noticed the discrete brass plate before and felt compelled to go inside. Inside is a vision of yet more wood panelling and ornate tiles. Well worth a visit.
UNBOUND: VISIONARY WOMEN COLLECTING TEXTILES
If you can tear your eyes away from the amazing building for just a few seconds the actual exhibition is really rather good. This is a show in two parts. Downstairs you have fine needlework from the past. There are amazingly intricate old dresses, beautifully embroidered traditional clothes and amazing embroidered church kneelers. If you have ever stitched and enjoyed it this is the show for you. Upstairs is given over to modern art textiles. I must confess I prefer the things made to be worn or used.
NEED TO KNOW
- Two Temple Place WC2R 3BD, is a few hundred yards away from Temple tube station.
- Unbound: Visionary Women Collecting Textiles
- 25 January 2020 – 24 April 2020
- Open: Monday, Thursday – Saturday 10am – 4.30pm, Wednesday 10am – 9pm, Sunday 11am – 4.30pm, Tuesday closed.
- Admission: Free
- A rather fine cafe is open for the duration of the exhibition.
Whilst you are in the area why not pop into to see Middle Temple Hall where the first production of Twelfth Night took place or channel your inner knight with a visit to the Temple Church. Check out my guide to London’s Historic Houses if visiting interesting interiors is your thing.
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