Staircase, 10 Carlton House Terrace

Open House is a charter for the nosey.  Ever wondered what the inside of the Treasury looks like?  Once a year it throws its doors open to the public as part of the Open House scheme.  It is not alone, thousands of buildings across the country do the same.  This weekend we headed to London to see what we could see.  Our first port of call was Whitehall but the length of the queues to see inside Portcullis House or Horseguards made us look else where.


Staircase, 11 Carlton House Terrace

Carlton House Terrace overlooks St James’ Park.  When it was first built, the houses were home to the great and the good, now they tend to house grand institutions.  Numbers ten and eleven are home to the British Academy.  Number eleven is special in our household as it was where we held our wedding reception, so there was no way that Junior CWs were going to get away without seeing inside.  When we got married, portraits of Gladstone stared down at us, marking the fact that this used to be his house, but now he has been replaced by a rather fine collection of more modern works.  Both buildings have lavish interiors that have been beautifully restored since the British Academy took up residence.  The staircases are especially eye-popping.

Staircase, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace

Staircase, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace

Just a few doors down the road, at numbers six to nine, the Royal Society has its headquarters.  Britain’s top scientists have pretty plush surroundings when they gather at the Royal Society.  The ceiling of the entrance hall and neighbouring staircase are decorated with carved wood.  The white flowers?  They are mother of pearl inlay.  Portraits of distinguished scientists gaze down at you from the walls.  I noticed that the Royal Society puts on talks that are open to the general public, definitely something to add to my to do list.

London Open HOuse 2016

Marlborough House

We finished of our day of meandering with gawping at the stunning interior of  Marlborough House, no cameras allowed inside so you will have to take my word that Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough didn’t stint on interior decoration.  The house was designed by Christopher Wren and was built using red Dutch bricks that were bought back to England as ballast in the troop ships that carried soldiers for the Duke’s campaigns on mainland Europe.  In the nineteenth century, the house became a royal one and was home to four heirs to the throne and three dowager Queens.  It is currently home to the Commonwealth Secretariat.




  1. September 17, 2016 / 11:17 pm

    So ornate and you have an eye for capturing the splendor inside.

  2. September 17, 2016 / 11:30 pm

    What beautiful architecture – I love the decor in that third photo.

  3. September 18, 2016 / 5:12 am

    Oh my word! Though I am an American, I am Brit in my heart and a London Open House would be a dream for my sister and I! I am going to have to put this on my calendar and look it up for next year. Love that first ceiling!

    • Catherine
      September 18, 2016 / 7:23 am

      It would be such a good way of visiting London!

  4. September 18, 2016 / 5:38 am

    I think Open House (and the Heritage Open Weekends) are such a brilliant idea. I like all your photos but my favourite is the decorated ceiling. I can’t believe you had your wedding reception there. What a place! #MySundayPhoto

    • Catherine
      September 18, 2016 / 7:25 am

      It was the Foreign Press Association then, so a bargain venue for journalists!

  5. September 18, 2016 / 6:49 am

    We went to the town hall tour in Oxford, but bet it’s great being in London for Open Doors. So many more private places to get into.

    • Catherine
      September 18, 2016 / 7:26 am

      There is just something thrilling about seeing hidden spaces

  6. September 18, 2016 / 7:21 am

    I was tempted with a trip to London this weekend too for Open House but thought the queues would probably put me off. Next year I’ll get around to entering some of the ballots for the attractions. Impressive pla e for a wedding reception.

    • Catherine
      September 18, 2016 / 7:29 am

      There were queues for the Whitehall venues but the ones we went into had none.

  7. September 18, 2016 / 11:36 am

    Malborough House sounds really intriguing. I used to work in the St James area but was always rushing about to and from work. I’d love to go back now that I’m not there. It looks like there’s so much to see!

    • Catherine
      September 18, 2016 / 11:55 am

      The Gentleman’s Clubs always intrigue me

  8. September 20, 2016 / 9:08 am

    I never know this place existed in London. It looks simply stunning #citytripping

  9. September 20, 2016 / 11:51 am

    I need to keep in mind this Open House in London! It’s a great way to see somewhere special the next time we are there! #CityTripping

  10. September 20, 2016 / 12:42 pm

    I like the idea of having an open house for the public to have a nosey around. some great photos here and it sounds like you had a fab day ! #citytripping

  11. September 20, 2016 / 2:01 pm

    beautiful interiors:) #citytripping

  12. September 20, 2016 / 4:18 pm

    We did Open House for the first time this weekend too, loved it! Such great opportunities. I love all thie little details you get to learn like the ballast fact about the bricks – just brilliant! #citytripping

  13. shobha42016
    September 21, 2016 / 11:20 am

    We went to Marlborough House last year for Open House. This year we lined up for 2 1/2 hours to get into the Gherkin! It was cool – my kids really liked it too.

    • Catherine
      September 21, 2016 / 11:51 am

      That is a serious piece of queuing, respect!

  14. Clare Thomson
    September 21, 2016 / 2:13 pm

    I MUST do this next year, Catherine. I keep missing out. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see inside some truly incredible buildings. #citytripping

  15. September 21, 2016 / 2:39 pm

    Every year I somehow manage to miss the open house weekend! I must get organised last year as I love having a nosey! Thanks for linking to #citytripping

  16. September 22, 2016 / 6:46 am

    Every year I say I must check out Open House and every year I seem to miss it. Great photos, how fascinating to be able to go inside. And great to show off your reception venue too. #citytripping

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