Open all year: London’s hidden gems

You don’t have to wait for Open House London to visit these beautiful buildings and museums

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16 Sep 2016

Every year Open House London offers punters the chance to take a peak inside the capital’s architectural jewels that are usually closed to the public. But what about the big smoke’s other tucked away attractions? Here’s a guide to some hidden gems that are open all year and well worth a visit…

Dennis Severs HouseDennis Severs’ House
The cool East End one
Tucked behind the hustle and bustle of Spitalfields market, Dennis Severs’ House is simultaneously a museum, a living still-life artwork and an immersive theatre experience. Painstakingly restored in the 1980s and 1990s to resemble a Huguenot silk weaver’s house of the eighteenth century, the experience is akin stepping back in time. David Hockney called it ‘one of the world’s greatest operas’; the tour includes creaking floorboards, overheard whispers and a canary. It’s a little bit hipster, a little bit Miss Havisham and a lot of fun. 18 Folgate Street, E1 6BX

Leighton House interior.Leighton House
The dazzling one
Amid the pompous splendour of Holland Park, lies the wonderful Leighton House Museum. The home of Frederick, Lord Leighton – the eminent pre-Raphaelite painter and president of the Royal Academy – it is startlingly opulent and romantic. Built to his precise requirements, the showpiece is the shimmering Arab Hall, a tile and mosaic marvel. 12 Holland Park Road, W14 8LZ 

operatingThe Old Operating Theatre
The creepy one
In the attic of a church near London Bridge lurks the Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret. This Victorian relic dates from a pre-anaesthetic era; it is discomfiting to think of the soundproofing that drowned out the screams from amputees. Dusty and atmospheric, it contains antique physiological models and a fully stocked apothecary. If your stomach hasn’t been too turned, pop to nearby Borough Market for lunch. 9a St Thomas’s Street, SE1 9RY

No. 2 Willow Road.2 Willow Road
The modernist one
Leafy Hampstead was a hub of Bohemian intellectualism during the 1930s and the place where the likes of Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Ben Nicholson most often congregated was 2 Willow Road. A modernist masterpiece by the architect Erno Goldfinger – the Bond baddie was named after him – the house is fresh and unusual even today. Drool over the Bridget Riley pictures, minimalist furniture and parquet floor. 2 Willow Road, NW3 1TH

Entrance of the Dulwich Picture GalleryDulwich Picture Gallery
The arty one
On a pretty street in deepest south London, Dulwich Picture Gallery houses a world-class art collection in an exquisite Sir John Soane building. The works on display include pieces by Rembrandt, van Dyck, Rubens and Raphael – and, as opposed to the packed galleries at the National or Royal Academy, you can often have an entire room to yourself. The exhibition space is dedicated to artists deserving of more exposure; next up is a retrospective of work by Adriaen van de Velde, a painter of the Dutch Golden Age (from 12th October). Gallery Road, SE21 7AD

Open House London runs from September 17-18


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