Open House London 2018

oh2018_logo.jpg I try to attend Open House London every year it is held which is generally a weekend late in September, this year it was on September 22nd and 23rd. Some years I am able to see more than others (see 2016), this year I was only able to attend on the Sunday so a bit more limited in what I could see this time.

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom


Housed in the former “Middlesex Guildhall” just off of Parliament Square, the building is a mixture of old and new having recently completed extensive renovations. For Open House they opened up a number of rooms not normally opened to the public including the library and all three courtrooms. It is possible to visit to sit in on proceedings during the week and they also offer guided tours (all for free).

Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (Court Room 3; Ground Floor)

In this room they were showing a video of interesting judgements passed by the committee. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council serves as the highest court of appeal for a number of smaller Commonwealth countries. When not used for this purpose, this room also serves as another courtroom for the supreme court.

Library (Ground Floor)

The library is quite an interesting space with a sunken area surrounded above by a square walkway and wonderful stained glass windows and wood work.


Most of the library is actually in more utilitarian rooms in the basement. Leaving the magnificence of the small library room a side area allows viewing of a George III tapestry.


Court Room 2 (First Floor)

The modern court room 2 shows what can be done with the relaxing of the graded listing covering the rest of the building. This courtroom could do whatever they wanted – and it shows. Wonderful and airy with an understated, modern decor.

Court Room 1 (Second Floor)

The main court here, this is also the largest. For Open House they allowed visitors to sit in the judges' seats and put on judiciary wigs. A wonderful, spacious room with more beautiful stained glass.


Department for International Development

This is the former Admiralty Building and it's main attraction for attendees of Open House was access to the “Admiralty Boardroom”. Unfortunately, the tour did not allow photographs (they relieved us of our phones and cameras at the main entrance) but in the crowded, historic, boardroom there was a talk from the department's historical expert. There were a few other exhibits elsewhere in the building (I had an interesting chat with a gentleman from a mine-clearing charity) but generally visitors spent their time walking along boring corridors between the boardroom and the street entrance.

Royal Academy of the Arts

Recently The Royal Academy of the Arts completed a massive expansion and renovation with the opening of the Burlington Gardens wing of the site now connected to the original Burlington House off of Piccadilly. For Open House they hosted regular architectural tours by those that perform the normal art tours during the week. A lot of people were on this tour…

Main Gallery

The tour began in the modern-looking lecture hall in the Burlington Gardens wing where we learned the history of the building including it's use as an educational institution then as artist studios.

Lecture Hall

The north facade with it's statues of leading figures from science and art is where the tour first stopped. The facade and statues have been cleaned and spruced up as part of the recent renovations.

North Facade

Next stop was to look at the courtyard recently opened up between the two halves of the building. This is now used as a cafe by students of the art school (to the left is Burlington Gardens to the right are the windows of artist studios - facing north to avoid differing light conditions during the day).


The tour finished in the Burlington House wing stopping briefly at the sculpture displays in the hallway joining the two wings.

Burlington House Entrance with Building Art