INSIDE TWO TEMPLE PLACE

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 John Ruskin: The Power of Seeing.

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.

Inside Two Temple Place

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.

Two Temple Place staircase

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.

Two Temple Place Interior

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.

Stained Glass Two Temple Place

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.

Two Temple Place interior

JOHN RUSKIN: THE POWER OF SEEING

If you can tear your eyes away from the amazing building for just a few seconds the actual exhibition is really rather good.  John Ruskin was a Victorian polymath; artist, educators and social thinker.  But most of all he was known as an art critic.  Well maybe he his most remembered for marrying the young Effie Gray, failing to consummate the marriage and then seeing her run off with the painter John Everett Millais.  This exhibition looks at how 200 years after his birth his ideas still have a resonance today.

John Ruskin birds
John Ruskin collection of bird paintings

Ruskin felt that whilst the steel workers of his native Sheffield were highly skilled, they were also constrained by the demands of industry. To help alleviate this he set up the Guild of St George as a museum on the outskirts of Sheffield over looking the Derbyshire moors. It still exists today and its collections form the backbone of The Power of Seeing.

Ruskin peacock feather
Peacock feather drawn by Ruskin

Ruskin didn’t just paint things, he looked for beauty in nature and make a great collection of minerals, books and general cultural treasures. I loved this selection of minerals.

Ruskin minerals
Ruskin’s mineral collection

Ruskin might have liked a lot of things but he disliked lots too, there is an impressive list of the things he disparaged in letter to friends on display …. Iron railings (thieves outside, Bedlam within), the Houses of Parliament (effeminate and effectless), Wagner’s The Meistersingers, the renaissance buildings of Venice, Palladio, Lawyers, making money, King’s College Cambridge (looks like an upside-down table), railway stations, cycling, having his photo taken and the English Constitution …. quite a list!

One thing that I think he would approve of is the new Timorous Beasties lampshade inspired by Ruskin’s nature observations that is hanging in the central hall ….. I rather hope this takes up permanent residence.

Timorous Beasties lampshade
Timorous Beasties lampshade

NEED TO KNOW

  • Two Temple Place  WC2R 3BD, is a few hundred yards away from Temple tube station.
  • John Ruskin: The Power of Seeing
  • 26 January 2019 – 22 April 2019
  • 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.

If money was no object and you could decorate your house themed on your favourite novel, which would you choose?

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51 Comments

  1. bavariansojourn
    February 3, 2018 / 9:17 pm

    That is quite an office!! Can you imagine being the architect in charge of that! Love the windows especially! 🙂

    • Catherine
      Author
      February 3, 2018 / 9:19 pm

      I know …… here is a blank cheque please spend it tastefully!

    • Catherine
      Author
      February 4, 2018 / 10:02 am

      It’s got me wondering if Mr CW would contemplate a stained glass atrium

  2. February 4, 2018 / 6:36 am

    That’s amazing. so glad I caught this post as I never knew it existed and will definitely visit now. Thanks.

    • Catherine
      Author
      February 4, 2018 / 10:01 am

      Let me know what you think!

  3. February 4, 2018 / 9:10 am

    That staind glass window is simply beautiful! #mysundayphoto

    • Catherine
      Author
      February 4, 2018 / 10:00 am

      Perfectly positioned to catch the light as well

  4. February 4, 2018 / 9:16 am

    Wow what amazing detail, it looks so grand. The colours in the glass are stunning.

    Thank you for linking up

    • Catherine
      Author
      February 4, 2018 / 9:59 am

      A treat for the eye and the camera

  5. February 4, 2018 / 10:03 am

    What a beautiful place to visit. I love all the wood carvings and the literacy references and the stained glass is so pretty. I’ve never heard of Two Temple Place and the exhibition sounds really interesting too. Will have to try and visit while it’s open.

    • Catherine
      Author
      February 4, 2018 / 10:04 am

      The exhibitions are always good

  6. February 4, 2018 / 10:38 am

    Oh wow, what an amazing place to visit. The architecture is amazing and I love all the stained glass.

  7. February 4, 2018 / 11:52 am

    Hi Catherine, what an incredibly ornate interior and I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an intracate ladies toilet door. I’m really not sure how I would like my house decorated, but it would have to be something bright, fun and uplifting. Probably more like a theme from a childrens book.

    xx

    • Catherine
      Author
      February 4, 2018 / 11:54 am

      Wols house in Winnie the Pooh?

  8. February 4, 2018 / 12:57 pm

    Wow it’s just so stunning. I’m not sure I’d have got much work done in that office. It reminds me a lot of the ceilings in Stirling castle!

    • Catherine
      Author
      February 4, 2018 / 1:28 pm

      Inspirational interiors!

  9. February 4, 2018 / 3:53 pm

    What a wonderful building. The stained glass is exquisite. You make me want to move back to London!

  10. February 4, 2018 / 4:25 pm

    This is an amazing place! You’re so lucky to get free entrance – I’d want to spend all day there.

    • Catherine
      Author
      February 4, 2018 / 5:48 pm

      Everybody gets free entrance!

  11. February 4, 2018 / 5:37 pm

    Beautiful photos, what a gorgeous place.

  12. February 4, 2018 / 7:38 pm

    What an amazing place – and that glass! Wow.

    • Catherine
      Author
      February 4, 2018 / 8:05 pm

      It is incredible, I will try to pop in for a coffee at least one more time before the end of April

  13. February 5, 2018 / 1:10 pm

    Wow what a beautiful building, it’s nice to see them in such a good state of repair. So many are left to ruin. #MySundayPhoto

  14. February 8, 2018 / 4:56 pm

    Those are incredible. What amazing photos. x

  15. February 19, 2018 / 12:31 pm

    Isn’t it fab? We took our students there for a wander once. They were adult students who were sent to London by their companies. Many were lawyers and so this was particularly interesting to them.

    Those stained glass windows put mine to shame though! 😄

    • Catherine
      Author
      February 19, 2018 / 9:17 pm

      It is joyful, he seemed to,enjoy his money!

  16. February 22, 2018 / 11:42 pm

    What a fabulous place – i wonder what I would come up with if given a blank cheque and free rein. I am having enough trouble working out which book to pick! I love London’s surprises like this. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

  17. March 8, 2018 / 12:22 pm

    What an amazing place. Your photos are always stunning, Catherine.

  18. Clare Thomson
    March 8, 2018 / 3:36 pm

    What a great opportunity to see inside this fabulous building, Catherine! I’ll have to go and check it out. The combination of beautiful interiors and Jazz sounds just my kind of thing. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

  19. March 8, 2018 / 8:48 pm

    It’s amazing what one can do with unlimited funds! The interior looks amazing and I definitely wouldn’t mind visiting! Pinned! #FarawayFiles

    • Catherine
      Author
      March 9, 2018 / 9:03 am

      Thank you, faced with refurbishing my bathrooms I wish that my funds were less limited!

  20. March 9, 2018 / 2:29 am

    I love that London has all these gems everywhere – we’re definitely jazz fans so Two Temple Place looks like somewhere we need to check out when we’re back in London! #farawayfiles

    • Catherine
      Author
      March 9, 2018 / 9:02 am

      Makes you wonder what lurks Behind other doors that are firmly shut to the public

  21. Wherejogoes
    March 9, 2018 / 12:42 pm

    What ornate carvings -true craftmanship at work, I love the china and the shoes. Now if I had to decorate my house in the theme of a novel i can imagine my kids would rule the roost and we’d end up with a Harry Potter house full of cobwebs! #FarawayFiles

    • Catherine
      Author
      March 9, 2018 / 12:51 pm

      I knew my house was themed and now I know which book it is ….. will never remove the cobwebs ever again!

  22. March 13, 2018 / 10:14 am

    Isn’t it wonderful what can be done on an unlimited budget? I do like the idea of using Spotify to provide a soundtrack to the visit – very cool! #FarawayFiles

    • Catherine
      Author
      March 13, 2018 / 10:15 am

      I like the idea of walking round looking a beautiful things cocooned in great music

  23. pigeonpairandme
    March 13, 2018 / 3:28 pm

    You have to love a splendid ladies’ loo. And HOW MUCH do I want those shoes??!! #FarawayFiles

    • Catherine
      Author
      March 13, 2018 / 3:52 pm

      I know, I was so sad the gallery shop didn’t have the shoes!

  24. March 15, 2018 / 6:11 am

    That William Waldorf Astor was everywhere, wasn’t he? This looks like a lovely outing, and I love the idea that you can download the playlist and listen while you explore! That’s very cool! #farawayfiles

  25. louiseloveslondon
    February 11, 2019 / 11:01 pm

    That stained glass ceiling…. Marvellous! You write wonderfully, Catherine!
    Louise x

    • Catherine
      Author
      February 12, 2019 / 7:28 am

      Thank you …. what a lovely way to start my day x

  26. Jeff
    February 13, 2019 / 10:38 am

    Great article and photos. One correction: Ruskin didn’t hail from Sheffield; he was born in London and lived in Herne Hill till he moved to the Lake District. But he wanted to make life better for the workers of Sheffield and elsewhere.

    • Catherine
      Author
      February 13, 2019 / 12:07 pm

      Hangs head in shame, thank you for the information… I shall amend.

  27. March 19, 2019 / 12:19 pm

    That building is just stunning and I love Ruskin drawings so much!! #culturedkids

    • Catherine
      Author
      March 19, 2019 / 12:50 pm

      Hard to know which way to look!

  28. March 21, 2019 / 2:03 pm

    This windows is so beautiful! Thank you for great post and beautiful photos!

    • Catherine
      Author
      March 22, 2019 / 12:07 pm

      Isn’t the window fabulous!

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