We happened to be down in London several months ago with no concrete plans, but our schedule was quickly filled because that weekend just so happened to be Open House London weekend. I wish we had known ahead of time because some of the participating venues required pre-booked reservations or even background checks (if you wanted to visit 10 Downing Street). But even without a whole lot of pre-planning, we still managed a whole lot of really cool visits.
The Palace of Westminster is where the UK Parliament meets. It is also where other important stuff happens, like special speeches and viewings/wakes for royal dead people.
The UK Supreme Court (formerly the Middlesex Guildhall)
Surprisingly enough, the UK Supreme Court has only been in existence since 2009. I’ll just let you create your own thoughts and opinions on that.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office handles the interests of the UK abroad and in other commonwealth countries. It’s actually a beautiful building, with amazing architecture and murals.
British Optical Association MusEYEum
We only stopped in because it was a couple houses down from the Benjamin Franklin House, and we weren’t willing to stand in line for hours in the hopes that we might get in before the BFH closed. There was no line for the BOA MusEYEum, which was nice. Lots of random optical associated stuff crammed into glass cases everywhere.. including glasses from the Queen Mother (she only wore one style) and glass eyes!
Apsley House (English Heritage)
Addresses don’t get much better the “Number One, London” – The Apsley House was built (or commissioned) by Field Marshall Arthur Wellesley, the First Duke of Wellington, famous for beating Napolean at the Battle of Waterloo. The house is filled with Napoleon-related artifacts including a gigantic statue of Napoleon wearing nothing but a fig-leaf, as well as an amazing dinner service gifted to the Duke of Welllington from Portugal. We weren’t allowed to take any pictures inside, unfortunately.
Wellington Arch (English Heritage)
Inside the Wellington Arch, they had exhibitions on World War I memorials that have been put up around London. There is also so information about the history of the arch, which was originally planned as a grand entrance to Buckingham Palace (way back when), but then that was idea was scrapped. There is also some interesting information on how the entire arch was moved about 100 yards to help with congestion problems in London.
We also had some amazing good meals on Sunday, even though we were in the touristy parts of town – Breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien, Lunch at Joe’s Southern Kitchen & Bar, Dinner at Wahaca.