Open House winners enjoy Arriva London’s Open City Architour
There were over 8,500 entrants for the Open House ballot to compete for 40 places on the Arriva London/Open City architectural mystery whirlwind tour last weekend, and what a tour it was.
Joe Kerr, architectural historian, lecturer at the Royal College of Art and bus driver with Arriva London, accompanied by Maxine as conductor, took winners on an afternoon tour of some of London’s most fascinating buildings.
The tour started at Chandos House, one of the finest surviving Adam houses, built in 1771 and first occupied by the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos. The ornate ceilings and decorations are a beautiful part of a building that when first opened was ‘The’ number one house to be seen at in London.
Joe then introduced the guests to what he defined as the sixth venue of architectural interest, the Arriva Heritage Fleet Routemaster bus RM 2217. As Joe explained this was the very last Routemaster run in commercial service on route 159 in late 2005.
Once everyone was safely on board, Joe drove the bus down to the Aldwych and parked on a bus stand by Australia house, followed by a short walk into the City of London to Middle Temple. At 101 feet long and 41 feet wide, with double hammerbeam roof, amazing wooden carved partitions, wall decorations and notable paintings, it is London’s finest surviving Elizabethan Hall.
The next ride on the bus was back northwards to Old St Pancras Church, believed to have been established circa the 4th century AD on the site of a Roman Temple. The graveyard has some fascinating history, including the tomb stone of Mary Wollestonecraft the author of ‘A vindication of the Rights of Woman’ who was also the mother of Mary Shelley who wrote ‘Frankenstein’.
Also in the graveyard is the monument to Sir John Soane; this allegedly became the inspiration more than 100 years later, for the design by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott of the iconic London telephone box.
From St Pancras, the tour moved on to the Royal College of General Practitioners, a grade 2 listed building designed by Arthur Beresford Pite.
Recently restored to showcase the magnificent Edwardian faiencing tile work, it also has the addition of modern hospitality and training facilities and an extended roof terrace and garden. The etched glass floors are of particular interest.
The sixth venue (RM 2217) then transported everyone to the fifth venue, the Royal College of Physicians, which is grade 1 listed and one of London’s most important post war buildings. Here everyone was treated to a personalised tour of the dramatic interiors and a view of the white mosaic exterior elevated on piloti.
Sadly this was the end of the four hour tour, and where the Routemaster set off to return to its home at Arriva’s Norwood garage in South London.
If you would like to know more about any of the venues mentioned in this article, please follow the links provided below. Arriva London are proud to be associated with Open House and the Open City Architour, and look forward to being involved on the next tour in 2015.
If you would like to see more images of the tour, then please visit our Facebook page at facebook.com/OfficialArrivaLondon.
Arriva London’s Heritage Fleet - www.theheritagefleet.com
Chandos House - www.chandoshouse.co.uk
Middle Temple - middletemplehall.org.uk
St Pancras Old Church - www.sosstpancras.org
Royal College of General Practitioners - www.rcgp.org.uk
Royal College of Physicians - www.rcplondon.ac.uk/museum-and- garden/architecture-and-buildings/lasdun-building
Published : Mon 7th Dec. 2015 - Thu 25th Feb. 2016
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