Free culture in London
As proof that you can have a great time in London without breaking the bank, here's our guide to some of the most interesting collections, events and recitals the city has to offer
Houses and collections
London Open House
This annual event gives you the chance to view, for free, hundreds of buildings of architectural interest, many of which aren’t usually open to the public. Check their website for more details.
London Silver Vaults
Tucked away in the capital’s legal district, the Vaults hold the largest collection of antique silver in the world. There are free themed selling exhibitions in the entrance Foyer, featuring items for sale from the 30+ shops - ranging from pre-Georgian pieces to modern designs of frames, mirrors, jewellery and cutlery.
London Silver Vaults, Chancery Lane, WC2A 1QT (www.thesilvervaults.com). Chancery Lane tube. Open 9am-5.30pm Mon-Fri, until 1pm Sat.
At the UCL Department of Earth Sciences Collection see a selection of rocks, minerals and fossils on display from this collection of more than 40, 000 geological specimens, painstakingly gathered over the last two centuries. One of the highlights is the Johnston-Lavis volcanological collection of minerals, rocks, photographs and gouaches, collected from about 1880-1912.
University College London, Gower St, WC1E 6BT (7679 7900/www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/geology). Euston Square tube. Open Wed lunchtimes or by appointment. Closed during exam times.
The Poetry Library is an exceptionally comprehensive collection of modern poetry and was founded by the Arts Council in 1953 in an effort to inspire and support British poetry. The modern poetry section contains all twentieth- and twenty-first-century work published in Great Britain. You can also find a great selection of works from other English-speaking countries and a considerable collection of translations. Membership is free.
The Poetry Library, Level 5, Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, SE1 8XX (792 0943/792 0664/www.poetrylibrary.org.uk). Waterloo tube/rail.