Two Temple Place
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Built as an estate office in 1895 to the close specifications of William Waldorf Astor, Two Temple Place now opens to the public for three months a year with immensely popular exhibitions of ‘publicly-owned art from around the UK’, arranged by an up-and-coming curator. The pale Portland stone exterior and oriel windows here are handsome – but the interior is extraordinary. You get a hint about what’s to come before you open the door: look right and there’s a cherub holding an old-fashioned telephone to his ear.
Ring the bell and you’re warmly welcomed by volunteers into a house with decor that combines sublime, extravagant craftsmanship with a thorough lack of interest in coherence: above porphyry tiles, the Three Musketeers adorn the banisters of a staircase; intricately carved literary characters crowd the first floor, mixing Shakespeare with Fenimore Cooper; the medieval-style Great Hall, with lovely stained glass, crams together 54 random busts – Voltaire, Marlborough and Anne Boleyn enjoying the company of Mary Queen of Scots.
2 Temple Place
|Price:||Admission free. Tours free but must be booked in advance|
|Opening hours:||Open Exhibitions late Jan-mid Apr 10am-4.30pm Mon, Thur-Sat; 10am-9pm Wed; 11am-4.30pm Sun. Private tours only mid Apr-late Jan|
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