Open all year: London’s hidden gems

A selection of beautiful buildings and museums that are open to the public all year round

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…

Leighton House interior. The dazzling one: Leighton House

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 

operating The creepy one: The Old Operating Theatre

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

Dennis Severs House The East End one: Dennis Severs’ House

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

No. 2 Willow Road. The modernist one: 2 Willow Road

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 Gallery The arty one: Dulwich Picture Gallery

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. In the exhibition space, there is currently only a few weeks left to catch a collection of Sargent’s watercolours (until October 8). Gallery Road, SE21 7AD


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