More than 800 buildings across London will fling open their doors for Open House this weekend. Here are seven rare beauties to get you started:
1. Ruins of Garrison Church
The Romanesque St George’s Garrison Church was erected as a place of worship for Royal Artillery men in the nineteenth century, but was almost eviscerated by a V-1 flying bomb in 1944. The foundations remained (mostly) intact, but the roof had to be entirely rebuilt, which explains that bowed wooden arch plonked on top. It might look bizarre, but it preserves the glorious Antonio Salviati Venetian glass mosaics that survive inside; the cocky-looking peacock mural is still in excellent nick. Grand Depot Rd, SE18 6XJ. Woolwich Arsenal rail. Sat Sep 16 and Sun Sep 17, 10am-5pm.
2. Abbey Mills Pumping Station
Who knew a house of turds could be so pretty? See the gothic design and beautiful brickwork of the ‘Cathedral of Sewage’ that saved old London from the Great Stink. Constructed by Joseph Bazalgette, Edmund Cooper and architect Charles Driver in 1868, the structure helped form the foundation of London’s sewage system. Abbey Lane, E15 2RW. Abbey Rd DLR. Sat Sep 16 and Sun Sep 17, 10am-5pm (pre-book only).
3. St Bartholomew's Hospital, Great Hall and Maggie's Centre
The Grade I-listed north wing of this central London hospital houses spectacular canvases by William Hogarth and a historic Great Hall. A new addition, Maggie’s Centre, a cancer care unit, is crisp and modern in contrast. The church of St Bartholomew the Less will also be open to visitors. West Smithfield, EC1A 7BE. St Paul's. Sun Sep 17, 10am-5pm. Hourly tours of Maggie's Centre (pre-book only).
4. Buddhapadipa Temple
Visit this Thai-style Theravada temple – one of just two outside Asia – to see its amazing Shrine Room. It contains a golden Buddha, copied from the Buddha Sihing in Bangkok, plus there are gardens covering four acres, a lake, a grove and an orchard. 14 Calonne Rd, SW19 5HJ. Wimbledon Park. Sat Sep 16 and Sun Sep 17,10am-5.30pm.
5. The Great Barn
Sir John Betjeman called it ‘the cathedral of Middlesex’, but this medieval barn was almost left to rot until it was snapped up by English Heritage for £20,000 in 2012. The towering wooden interior is lined with timber (95 percent of which is original) and looks like a Viking ship that’s been flipped upside-down, standing a mammoth 190 feet long and 40 feet tall. It’s basically next door to Heathrow Airport, and makes for more interesting viewing than
the inside of a departure lounge. Manor Court, High St, UB7 0AQ. Heathrow Terminal 5. Sat Sep 16 and Sun Sep 17,10am-5pm.
6. Shaftesbury Theatre
Venture backstage ‘Phantom of the Opera’-style via the dusty crannies of this Renaissance theatre. Look out over London through its high Diocletian windows and crane your neck to admire the cupola (domed) ceiling. Open House is a rare chance to explore the theatre’s latest addition: a serrated ‘fly over’ structure that emerges from the building like a rusty saw. 210 Shaftesbury Avenue, WC2H 8DP. Tottenham Court Rd. Sat Sep 16, 9am-11.30am. Tours of the backstage area every 30 mins.
7. Masonic Temple, Andaz Liverpool Street
This Victorian railway hotel has been refurbished with super modern interiors. During construction, a wall was demolished and this Grade II-listed Greek Masonic Temple was uncovered. The marble and mahogany marvel is
now one of London’s not-so-well-kept secrets. Bishopsgate, EC2M 7QN. Liverpool St. Sun Sep 17, 10am-5pm.
More Open House? Here's our pick of the best buildings to see in Open House 2017.