If you think history is just for classrooms and museums then you’re mistaken! London’s a city steeped in history and some of these historical landmarks are available for private hire. This week, I went to take a look at some of them…
Sir John Soane’s Museum, Lincoln’s Inn Fields
Once the house of architect Sir John Soane, the door to number 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields is like a portal to another world and on crossing the threshold what lies before you is a breathtaking collection of one man’s life’s work. The Library-Dining Room is a marvellous assortment of paintings, bookcases (all in all there are almost 7000 books within the museum), vases and mirrors, set against crimson walls. The candlelight by which events take place in this room adds to its splendour and transports guests straight back to the 1800s. However, this room is just the beginning, and waiting at the back of the house, like a treasure chest of Egyptian, Roman and Greek antiquities, is the Dome, set above the sarcophagus of Seti I in the crypt below. In the Picture Room, paintings by the likes of Hogarth and Canaletto hang alongside sketches by Piranesi, and as if that’s not enough, there is then the surprising revelation of Soane’s model of the Bank of England and a view of the rooms of ‘Padre Giovanni’. With so much to see and the feeling that you are being transported to another time, Sir John Soane’s Museum is a venue that is full of surprises and it’s no wonder that it’s known as having London’s ‘most unexpected interior’.
For more information on Sir John Soane’s Museum, click here.
The Foundling Museum, Brunswick Square
Tucked away in leafy Brunswick Square, The Foundling Museum is set over three floors and boasts an array of wonderful artwork, as well as a fascinating history. Originally a home for London’s abandoned children, The Foundling Hospital was established by Royal Charter in 1739 and was the project of Thomas Coram. Along with Coram, Handel and Hogarth were both key benefactors and their generous donations are still on show today through Gerald Coke’s collection of Handel memorabilia and various paintings by Hogarth, including a portrait of Coram. Although the original buildings were demolished, this 1930s rebuild retains many of the original 18th Century features, including the staircase with a banister which no doubt saw many a mischievous child slide down it. Staying true to its history, The Foundling Museum remains a child-friendly venue with play areas and dressing up available. Also, the museum is currently home to a Quentin Blake exhibition, an illustrator synonymous with many a childhood! The rococo design, breathtaking paintings, grand piano and chandeliers of the Court Room create a true regency feel and combined with catering by Zafferano is a wonderful setting for dinners and drinks. Private hire guests are free to wander the museum at leisure and can take time out to escape to the top floor where they’ll find three plush armchairs, each with built-in speakers for guests to lose themselves in Handel’s music. This venue ushers you back to a time gone by and allows the splendour and decadence of the time to come to life.
For more information on The Foundling Museum, click here.
Shoreditch Town Hall, Old Street
Built in 1866 and at one time serving as the town hall, this Grade II listed building is now available for private hire and is the epitome of Victorian vision. Designed to be the grandest town hall in London, Shoreditch Town Hall doesn’t disappoint. From the imposing exterior to the Council Chambers with its cove ceiling, stain glass windows and chandeliers, this venue is full of character and has a remarkable history. Climb the stairs to the next floor and you are met by the Assembly Hall, a stereotypical Victorian Music Hall, complete with a stage and gilding of trumpets and violins, making it easy to imagine it packed to the rafters for one of the many boxing matches or concerts that would have taken place. Even more fascinating is that it was also the setting for the inquest into the last Jack the Ripper murder… But more recently, the 90s saw the venue play host to the Whirl-Y-Gig trance gigs, proving this truly is a venue that caters for everyone! Shoreditch Town Hall has shabby chic down to a tee, with a versatility to hold anything from weddings, parties, meetings, music rehearsals and exhibitions in its many event spaces. The dry hire policy means event spaces can be transformed to suit the event but rest assured, the Dickensian grandeur of the building is stunning in itself.
For more information on Shoreditch Town Hall, click here.