Our latest Curiosity of the Week can be found in the heart of London, a stone’s throw from the River Thames and Temple tube station, yet many visitors (and Londoners) miss out on this little gem.
Two Temple Place is an architectural beauty and a great little exhibition space, originally built as an office (the most ornate office space we’ve encountered).
This magnificent neo-Gothic mansion on London’s Victoria Embankment was built by American William Waldorf Astor, who was possibly the richest man in the world at the time. It was finished in 1895, and contained the largest strong room in Europe, as well as two other enormous fortified safes.
If you take a peek inside today, you will come across the main staircase and gallery, spectacularly covered with fine wooden carvings.
The carvings carry a literary theme, with seven wooden figures representing the characters from Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, and friezes with characters from Shakespeare, and American writers James Fenimore Cooper and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
The ornate wood theme continues in the Great Hall (originally Astor’s study) with wooden panels containing more characters from literature, along with historical figures.
The fireplace with further wooden carvings, and the windows, add to the grand feel of the Great Hall. The windows are made with pretty stained glass, depicting idyllic rural scenes.
Two Temple Place is free to visit, and reopens to the public on 28th January with its sixth annual winter exhibition, Sussex Modernism: Retreat and Rebellion.
The exhibition examines why radical artists and writers were drawn to the rolling hills, seaside resorts, and quaint villages of Sussex in the first half of the 20th century. And how, in the communities they created, artistic innovation ran hand in-hand with political, sexual and domestic experimentation.
Two Temple Place is owned and run by a charity called the Bulldog Trust. Its winter exhibition programme supports regional museums across the UK, highlighting great collections through annual free exhibitions.
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