What’s all this talk about going “dry” for a month and signing up at a gym? Not to mention new year resolutions and gloomy predictions of a triple dip. To me, January is the most indulgent month of all.

Three items for a great January afternoon: a sofa, a bunch of daffodils and Philip Davies' sumptuous book: London - HIdden Interiors.

Three items for a great January afternoon: a sofa, a bunch of daffodils and Philip Davies’ sumptuous book: London – Hidden Interiors.

This is the time to wallow in Christmas presents: exotic drinks, boxes of chocolates and deli treats. It’s the season to play with new gadgets and step out in clothes picked up for a song in sales. And most of all it’s the perfect moment to curl up on the sofa with a book and have a long, leisurely read on a dark afternoon – ideally with the year’s first 99p bunch of supermarket daffodils unfurling at your side.

So here I am, hunkered down with a wonderfully weighty tome fresh from its Christmas wrapping: London – Hidden Interiors by Philip Davies (with splendid photographs by Derek Kendall and published by English Heritage).

This gorgeous book explores 180 under-the-radar and often quirky buildings tucked away both in central London and out in the sticks. Many of them, thanks in no small part to the Open House weekends, I’m having the pleasure of revisiting with my feet up.

They range from the ancient, such as St Ethelreda’s Church in Ely Place to the resolutely modern, such as the Sanderson Hotel and Blizard Institute of Cell and Molecular Science. There’s the dazzling art deco Silver Gallery of the Park Lane Hotel, the opulent RAC Club, the extraordinary marble-clad Masonic Temple in the Andaz Liverpool Street Hotel and the gilded fantasia of Spencer House.

The extraordinary Blizard Institute, with its brilliantly-coloured pods, is intended to make medical research more accessible to the public.

The Blizard Institute building, with its brilliantly-coloured pod-rooms, is designed to make medical research more accessible to the public.

But I’m excited to discover several that I’ve yet to see. So, in the spirit  of seasonality, when lists of 2013’s upcoming unmissable events are everywhere, I’m going to use it to select 10 places I’d love to hit up over the coming year.

  • W Sitch & Co, art metal and lighting specialists – a shop that’s an Aladdin’s Cave of lamp fittings, sconces and chandeliers. 48 Berwick St, London, W1
  • British Optical Association Museum with its collection of glass eyes. 41-42 Craven Street, London, WC2
  • Tram Subway, abandoned for 60 years. Kingsway, Southampton Row, London, WC2.
  • Grant Museum of Zoology at University College, replete with skeletons and jars of pickled animal curiosities including one with several moles. 21 University St, London, WC1
  • Guy’s Hospital chapel, in Georgian style, with beautiful stained glass. St Thomas’s Street, London, SE1
  • W Martyn, London’s best preserved grocer’s shop. 135 Muswell Hill, London, N10
  • Georgian Orthodox Cathedral Church of the Nativity of Our Lord, covered with stained glass and mosaics. Rookwood Rd, N16
  • Crosby Hall, a restored medieval merchant’s house repositioned beside the Thames. Danvers St, London, SW3
  • 575 Wandsworth Rd. An early 19th century house in Lambeth covered in Moorish-style fretwork made from discarded wine boxes. London, SW8.
  • Tomb of Sir Richard Burton, designed like an Arab tent, churchyard of St Mary Magdalene, Mortlake, London, SW14

That should keep me busy! In fact once I’ve finished I feel I’ll have earned a visit to another featured building – the newly-revamped Quality Chop House restaurant in Clerkenwell (now with padding on its wooden seats). I’ll be ordering what its etched glass panels advertise as “London’s Noted Cup of Tea”.


  1. mdbmdbmdb

    One of my friends mentioned this book without prompting from me and volunteered how marvellous it was. (She had not seen your blog, obviously.) M


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