Mystical interiors are usually very special – they tell a story and make us feel a bit of wonder and history. We have picked out some London places where you can get the same feeling – bold, dramatic and historical interiors that perfectly reflect the royalty of the city. Shall we take a look at them?
We decided to start BIG. At Buckingham Palace you can take a look inside the State Rooms and get an idea of how the royals receive their guests. You can also see the secret door that leads to the Queen’s private apartment. These visits are available every summer – will you try them out?
The Ham House, situated on the Thames near Richmond, is the house of a courtier par excellence. It was built in the reign of James I and is still being rebuilt 150 years later. Admire the tall, austere facade, the cantilevered staircase, the sawn ceiling of the Great Hall and the very fine picture gallery. Open all year round, including guided tours.
Eltham Palace is the strangest country house in Britain. You cross the moat over a bridge dating from 1396 with a Tudor-era parapet and 1930s railings. Then comes a large turning circle – on whose gravel, among other things, Mr and Mrs Burney Streamline ‘s engines crunched – under a vaguely Renaissance façade. Then you enter a huge modernist interior lined with Australian black-bean wood, with a dome like you’d normally see in a Turkish hammam, and a huge circular abstract carpet.
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Anyone strolling through Green Park at the beginning of George III’s reign could hardly fail to notice this massive emblem of the wealthy Whig aristocracy. Thanks to Lord Rothschild it has been magnificently restored, including rare Greek Revival Interiors by James ‘Athenian’ Stuart. Guided tours Sundays 10.30am to 4.30pm.
Tucked away in a tiny side street, on Graces Alley in Whitechapel, stands the last intact survivor of the country’s great Music Hall era. Wilton’s Music Hall, originally built in 1859, with its crumbling façade and peeling plaster is a glimpse back to a time when Britain and London were at their economic peak.
When William Murray, the first Earl of Mansfield, bought Kenwood, it was a simple mansion with a fine view of London. It was to be more magnificent to reflect his stratospheric legal career, so he commissioned Robert Adam, the star architect of the day, with his team of talented painters, plasterers and builders. The showpiece is the Library or Great Hall, built to display the Earl of Mansfield’s books. It now glows in pink, baby blue and white, with 19 ceiling paintings on paper from Antonio Zucchi, which still work perfectly.
The Midlands Railway, then at its height, unveiled its magnificent Barlow Train Shed Red Brick Gothic Midland Grand Hotel. Gilbert Scott , famous for his ecclesiastical work, added finials, grotesques, medallions, decorative tiles, and a “hydraulic ascension chamber,” an elevator. Historic tours most days, £24 per person.
Britain’s answer to the Sistine Chapel, James Thornhill’s Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich has just been restored as part of a two-year, £8.5 million renovation.
Never mind that the Painted Hall was, and still is on occasion, just a very grand dining room.
Mark Hudson, The Telegraph’s art critic
In 2018 Alexandra Palace’s restored Victorian theatre opened for the first time in 80 years.
The curving rows of seats are fabulously re-plushed in a shade of blush champagne and the stage curtain is theatrical red, although during construction a multi-coloured plush curtain was discovered, dating from the 1920s and now awaiting conservation funding.
This 17th century formal royal residence in Greenwich by Inigo Jones was the first deliberately classical building in England and features an impressive spiral staircase.
The Landmark, once the Great Central Hotel built for Marylebone station, reopened in 1995. It is a monumental hotel in the style of Victorian Renaissance, adorned with richly decorated coffered ceilings, cornices and coloured marble – especially around the staircase at the station entrance. The most important architectural adaptation took place in the 1920s, when the central courtyard was roofed over and turned into a dance floor, creating one of the first glass atriums. Today it is a magnificent winter garden and houses the hotel’s main restaurant.
Do you know other mystical interiors in London?
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