London is in lockdown but London virtual tours mean no barrier for the incurably curious to peek behind closed doors. London is waiting to be discovered. Some of the tours are places that always off limits to public and others are old friends that I know and love. Settle down and enjoy a spot of armchair travel.
London Virtual Tours behind closed doors
Some London buildings are instantly recognisable from the outside but inside remain a mystery to most of us. You can take a bus down Whitehall and look at the buildings but not step inside the government buildings.
10 Downing Street
10 Downing Street has one of the most famous front doors in the world. Right now decisions that affect our lives are being taken there. Many, many years ago I was invited to a drinks do there. It was so tempting to take a good look round, maybe ask to see the Cabinet room but I behaved myself and made polite chit chat. Now I can head over to 10 Downing Street – Google Arts and Culture and explore to my hearts content.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Right next to Number 10 is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office usually open to the public only during Open House London. The interior is extraordinary high Victorian Gothic revival at its very finest. Whilst you are on the FCO website you Can explore the interiors of Ambassador’s residences and embassies in Rome, Vienna, Istanbul, Paris and Berlin.
Royal Hospital Chelsea
The Royal Hospital Chelsea is home to the famous red uniformed Chelsea Pensioners. Christopher Wren’s building forms the backdrop to the Chelsea Flower Show. Confession time: I have always thought that access was strictly limited but now I have looked at the website and realise it isn’t. Once this is all over I shall visit!
Favourite London interior tours
One of the things I love about London is that you can walk past perfectly normal looking houses only to discover that they have extraordinary interiors. Come with me to visit some of my favourites.
OK, anything less than spectacular would be a disappointment at Buckingham Palace and it doesn’t disappoint. Glitter and stunning art work is everywhere you look. A visit to Buckingham Palace State Rooms is one of my summer highlights but now I can take a peek at the gold encrusted interior whenever I want.
Hampton Court Palace
When the teens were junior we had membership of the Historic Royal Palaces and spent many happy hours exploring Hampton Court. Exploring the grand courtyards and interiors Hampton Court Palace virtually has been a lockdown treat.
Middle Temple is a like really grand common room for barristers. Now you can explore Middle Temple 360˚ splendour without being called to the Bar.
One of the great views over London can be had for free at the Sky Garden. Whilst we are unable to catch the fast lift to top of the Walkie Talkie building why not take in the full 360˚ views from the Sky Garden from your laptop.
Emery Walker’s House
Visiting Emery Walker House needs planning in advance and when you do get inside it is guided tours only due to the fragile nature of the interior. The joy of virtually visiting Emery Walker’s House is that you can savour every splendid detail of its Arts and Crafts interior at your leisure.
Charles Dickens Museum
Charles Dickens was a great one for taking long walks from his home in Doughty Street, goodness only knows what he would have made of lockdown. You can explore his house online at the Charles Dickens Museum website, my favourite room is his study where he wrote his novels.
Benjamin Franklin House
One of the first places I visited when I started Catherine’s Cultural Wednesdays was the Benjamin Franklin House. Now you can virtually visit the house between Charing Cross Station and Trafalgar Square.
Houses of Parliament
Not even MPs are visiting the Houses of Parliament during lockdown making it the perfect place for a virtual visit. Even when you are allowed inside cameras are not, so soak up these images whilst you can.
Churchill War Rooms
One of the places that always has a queue to visit in London is the Churchill War Rooms. Any time of year or day sees a line snaking down and round King Charles Street. You can virtually explore where history happened without standing in line. If you want to visit in person when normal life returns then do as we did and buy membership of the Imperial War Museum which lets you walk in past the queue.
I confess that before lockdown the idea of taking a virtual tour had never occurred to me. Now I find that I enjoy exploring from my laptop. Which closed London doors will choose to push open and virtually tour?