New West End Synagogue - Open House Festival 2023 Recommendations

What to See at Open House Festival 2023

Open House Festival 2023 is 6-17 September and there are hundreds of London’s unusual and inspiring buildings to visit (some of which are only open to the public for Open House).

As ever, there’s so much to choose from and sift through so I’ve done the hard work for you! Everything listed below is available to “drop-in”, that being said it’s still recommended to register on the Open House Festival website so you can show your plan to attend these venues and give them idea of the numbers to expect.

I’ve included a mixed bag of my 30+ top venues, some of which are open at other times of the year but, due to limited opening hours or costs, they’re trickier to visit.

I’ve split the venues in Central, South, North, West and East. I hope you enjoy the list and let me know in the comments what you’re planning to see!


Central London (City & Westminster)


New West End Synagogue, Bayswater (W2)

A highlight amongst my visits from 2021’s Open House London, this stunning synagogue was built in 1879 and there are very helpful volunteers on hand to explain the significance of artworks and the wonderful interior details of the building.

Open House London 2022 | Look Up London

Available for drop-in Sunday 10 September, register your intention to attend here.

Drapers’ Hall, City of London (EC2N)

One of the grandest Livery halls in the City, The Drapers’ have been on this site since the 16th century but the interiors here are largely Victorian. That doesn’t make them any less impressive though, the Drapers’ Hall has been a firm favourite of Open House London for years!

Available for drop-in Sunday 17 September, register your intention to attend here.

Cooper’s Hall, City of London (EC2)

The hall dates from the late 17th century, set within a very cute townhouse tucked away in Devonshire Square. The Cooper’s rank 36th within the City’s 110 livery companies and the hall contains many significant artefacts relating to their 700+ years of history.

Image Credit: Tag Venue

Available for drop-in Saturday 16 September, register your intent to visit here.

Benjamin Franklin House, Charing Cross (WC2N)

No. 36 Craven Street (originally No.7) was built in c.1730. Its most famous resident; Benjamin Franklin, planned to rent a room here for 6 months in the 1760s but ended up staying on-and-off for 16 years! As there are no detailed records of what the furnishings looked like, the house is kept intentionally bare but there’s interesting snippets about Franklin’s life in London dotted around. The most intriguing story is the Anatomy School run by Franklin and his landlady’s son-in-law here, along with the 1,200 bones found during structural repairs in the basement in 1998…

Open House London 2022 | Look Up London

Available for drop-in on 9, 10, 17 and 17 September, register your intent to attend here.

Fitzrovia Chapel (W1T)

One of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful buildings in London, Fitzrovia Chapel is usually only open on Wednesdays so this is a great opportunity to see it on the weekends. Originally the private Victorian chapel of Middlesex Hospital, it’s the only piece of the building to survive its demolition in late 1920s and now sits rather stranded within a complex of luxury flats.

Fitzrovia Chapel

Available for drop in on 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13 September. Register your intent to visit here. Read my blog post all about its history here.

Stationer’s Hall, City of London (EC4M)

Tucked down a side street by St Paul’s Cathedral, Stationer’s Hall is a surviving (although much altered) 17th Century livery hall that’s recently been refurbished. During the Great Fire of London in 1666 the quick-think George Tokefield rescued the archives of the Company to his Clerkenwell home so as well as the building there’s an exhibition of fine books available to see. Below is a picture of their rather lovely private garden that I was able to sneak a peek at recently!

Open House London 2022 | Look Up London

Available to drop-in Sunday 10 September, register to attend here. Find out about more of Fleet Street’s secrets on my walking tour here.

St Joseph’s Church, City of London (EC1Y)

Housed within a 1901 school building, this tucked away Catholic church has some surviving 1820s stained glass windows from St Mary Moorfields (the only Catholic Church in the City). Next door is also an attractive but tiny little garden in memory of Cardinal Basil Hume.

Open House London 2022 | Look Up London

Available for drop in on 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 & 16 September. Register your intent to visit here.

Founder’s Hall, City of London (EC1A)

Although the Livery Hall was only built in the 1980s, this is the fifth hall owned by the Founder’s Company who have a history going back to the 14th century. The company was involved in the manufacture of brass and other metal products like candlesticks, pots and bells but they found a lucrative trade in the monopoly of official weights, having the powers to check the weights of other merchants and insure no customers was being swindled.

Founders Hall Open House Festival | Look Up London

Available for drop in on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 September. Register your intent to visit here.

Two Temple Place, Temple (WC2R)

An Open House favourite each year, Two Temple Place is open half the year for exhibitions but this is a great opportunity to visit without any displays and appreciate the extraordinary Victoria interiors. Built as a private mansion for William Waldorf Astor in the 1890s, he wasn’t a man to recoil at a budget and this is one of the most lavish buildings in London. Don’t miss the wonderfully eclectic cherubs outside!

Ceiling Two Temple Place

Available for drop-in Sunday 10 and Sunday 17 September, register your intent to visit here.

Painter-Stainers’ Hall, City of London (EC4V)

Although they’ve been on this site since 1532, the Painters’ Hall has been through a fair bit of destruction. From fires to bomb damage the majority of the building dates from the 1960s rebuild after the Second World War but the Painters Company is the fifth oldest of all the Worshipful Livery Companies, recorded as far back as 1283!

Image Credit: Open House Festival Website

Available for drop-in Saturday 9 September, register your intent to visit here.

London Scottish House, Victoria (SW1P)

Home of the London Scottish Regiment, founded in 1859. The current building was completed in 1988 but incorporates design elements and fabric from the the former drill hall built in 1882.

Image Credit: Open House Festival Website

Available for drop-in Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 September. Register your intent to visit here.

Temple Church

An 800-year old church nestled right in the heart of central London. Temple Church was once the headquarters of the Knights Templar and today the awe-inspiring church is used by two of London’s Inns of Court. You can usually visit most days but this is a chance to visit for free.

Available for drop-in Saturday 17 September. Register your intent to visit here.

Middle Temple Hall

Dating back to 1574, the hall is still used by the Honourable Society of Middle Temple and was where Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night had its premiere performance.

Image Credit: Middle Temple Hall

Available for drop-in Saturday 17 September. Register your intent to visit here.

Temple Bar

Standing in the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral, often this epic gateway is overlooked. However it dates from 1672 and was even designed by Christopher Wren! This is a fun chance to step inside the restored interior and learn more about its history. You can read my blog all about it here.

History of Temple Bar | Look Up London

Available for drop-in 9, 10, 16 and 17 September. Register your intent to visit here.


South London


KCL Museum of Life Sciences (SE1)

Now part of the Guy’s Hospital Campus of Kings College London, the museum is housed in the 1902 Will’s Library. Although the museum was only created in 2007 it contains specimens dating back to the early 1800s including rare examples of botanical, pharmaceutical or zoological specimens used for research and teaching.

Image Credit: Open House Festival Website

Available for drop-in Saturday 16 September. register your intent to attend here.

The Africa Centre (SE1)

Showcasing the best of contemporary African culture and heritage, Africa House moved from its former headquarters in Covent Garden in 2016, occupying and transforming a former 1960s office block.

Image Credit: Open House Festival Website

Available for drop-in Sunday 17 September. Register your intent to visit here.

Walworth Garden (SE17)

Designed by the Matrix Feminist Design Co-Operative, and built by women. It’s now used as a thriving community hub and garden.

Image Credit: Open House Festival Website

Available for drop-in everyday during the Festival (6-17 September). Register your intent to visit here.

Charlton House (SE7)

The only surviving Jacobean mansion in the UK, Charlton House is a Greenwich gem with fabulous interiors and dates back to 1607.

Open House London 2022 | Look Up London

Available for drop-in Sunday 10 September. Register your intent to visit here.

London Fire Brigade Memorial Hall (SE1)

Visit part of the London Fir Brigade’s Grade II listed 1930s headquarters. Inside is a sculptural frieze by Gilbert Bayes who also completed this spectacular work.

Image Credit: Open House Festival Website

Available for drop-in Saturday 9 September. Register your intent to visit here.

International Maritime Organization (SE1)

You might have spotted the colourful flags and epic bronze statue of a ship along Albert Embankment? This is your chance to see inside!

Image Credit: Open House Festival Website

Available for drop-in Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 September. Register your intent to visit here.

Van Gogh House (SW9)

Visit the Stockwell home where the artist lived 150 years ago. The interior has been restored and there’s artwork for various collaborators.

Image Credit: Open House Festival Website

Available for drop-in Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 September. Register your intent to visit here.


North London


The Tin Tabernacle, Kilburn (NW6)

This curious corrugated iron chapel was built in 1863 and though no-longer a church it’s used for a variety of community and other events.

Image Credit: Open House Festival Website

Available for drop-in Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 September. Register your intent to visit here.

St Mary’s Tower, Hornsey (N8)

The oldest building in Hornsey with parts dating to the late Middle Ages, you’ll be able to visit the crypt, main roof and ringing chamber.

Image Credit: Open House Festival Website

They don’t seem to have added dates yet but. Register you can see more here.

Olden Community Garden (N5)

A hidden 2.5 acre community garden in Highbury. I was invited a while back to visit with a member and it’s such a special gem hidden behind an unassuming brick wall!

Available for drop-in Saturday 16 September. Register your intent to visit here.

Esoterick Collection (N1)

Six galleries of Italian art within a beautiful Georgian building known as Northampton Lodge.

Available for drop-in Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 September. Register your intent to visit here.

Little Angel Theatre (N1)

Founded back in 1961, this is a centre of puppetry and a charming little theatre set within a derelict temperance hall.

Available for drop-in Sunday 17 September. Register your intent to visit here.


West London


Grand Junction at St Mary Magdalene Church, Paddington (W2)

George Edmund Street might be best known for the Royal Courts of Justice in London but his major workload was all churches and cathedrals. This church was founded in 1865 and is a masterpiece in Victorian Gothic, especially the atmospheric crypt chapel (pictured) which was inspired by a 15th Century Chantry Chapel by Ninian Comper.

Open House London 2022 | Look Up London

Available for drop-in 6, 9, 11 and 13 September, register your interest in attending here.

Royal Hospital, Chelsea (SW3)

Designed by Christopher Wren in the late 17th Century and set within 66 acres of grounds, the hospital was established as an almshouse for army veterans and is still home to the famous red-coated Chelsea Pensioners today.

Image Credit: Open House Festival Website

Available for walking tours Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 September, register your interest in attending here.

Whitehall Historic House, Cheam (SM3)

This was a new recent discovery for me so I’m thrilled to see it taking part this year! Incredibly this was built as a house around 1500 and now houses a brilliant local history museum. Discover the story of the past residents (it was lived in until the early 1900s) and the historic village of Cheam. Read my recent blog here.

Open House London 2022 | Look Up London

Available for drop-in Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 September, register your interest in attending here.

Leighton House Museum (W14)

Home of studio of Lord Leighton, the museum (which is open regularly but usually ticketed) contains one of the most stunning interiors in London, the Arab Hall.

Leighton House Arab Hall | Look Up London

Available for drop-in Friday 15 September, register your interest in attending here.

Chiswick Town Hall

Opened in 1874 and full of rich Victorian and Edwardian interiors. It stopped being a town hall after 1965 but is still used for events and marriages.

Image Credit: Open House Festival Website

Available for drop-in Friday 8 September, register your interest in attending here.


East London


St Augustine’s Tower, Hackney (E8)

Climb Hackney’s oldest building! Constructed in the late 13th century and refurbished in the 15th century, the views from the top are worth the steps! Read more about my visit back in 2018 here.

Open House London 2022 | Look Up London

Available for drop-in Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 September. Register your intent to visit here.

Royal Pharmaceutical Society Museum (E1W)

Created in 1842 and originally intended as a reference collection for the society, it now collects objects relating to all aspects of British pharmacy history, from the 1400s up to the present day and it’s been in East Smithfield since 2015.

Available for drop-in Saturday 16 September. Register your intent to visit here.

Limehouse Town Hall (E2)

Opened 1881 and recently restored, visit to see how the building’s varied use has changed over time from hall to concert venue, museum to homeless shelter

Image Credit: Open House Festival Website

Available for drop-in Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 September. Register your intent to visit here.

Thames River Police, Wapping (E1W)

Housed in an old carpenter’s warehouse from 1910, the museum tells the story of the Thames Police. Today they’re the Marine Policing Unit of the Met, but the history of keeping law and order on the Thames goes back to 1798, making them one of it not the oldest police force in London.

Image Credit: Open House Festival Website

Available for drop-in Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 September. Register your intent to visit here.

London Buddhist Centre, Bethnal Green (E2)

Completed in 1888, this former derelict Victorian fire station became the London Buddhist Centre in 1978.

Image Credit: Open House Festival Website

Available for drop-in Sunday 10 September. Register your intent to visit here.

PHEW.

You made it to the end, well done! I hope that’s given you some food for thought while planning your 2023 Open House Festival from 6-17 September.

Do let me know what you’re going to visit!

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