Architecture of Westminster Cultural Landmarks Walking Tour - Friday 3 December 2021 1.30pmRegular price £14.50
Join Open House and Inside Out for a socially-distanced walking tour exploring the fascinating architecture behind Westminster’s most important cultural icons
This fun and engaging walking tour — organised by Open House as part of Westminster City Council’s Inside Out festival — focuses on the capital’s cultural heartland in-and-around Covent Garden.
Dubbed High Notes and the High Life, High Art and the High Street, the entertaining and insightful route — led by former Royal National Theatre head of tours Alison Rae — charts the unique and often overlooked history behind Westminster’s great theatres, galleries and cultural complexes.
Revisiting these iconic locations as London re-opens its theatres and cultural delights — the tour will explore the enigmatic surroundings of Covent Garden where high art mixes with street performance, retail with relaxation and world-renowned icons such as the National Gallery and Royal Opera House rub shoulders with the informality of cultural diversions in Trafalgar Square and the Piazza.
The route charts the development of the area from a 'convent' garden of Westminster Abbey into residences for the gentry, and then from supplier of the nation's fruit and veg to a key London destination. It also follows the evolution of west Strand from Royal Mews into the focal point of national celebration, and the re-purposing of Somerset House from 18th century home of Learned Societies to Arts hub housing over 100 creative and cultural enterprises.
As well as introducing the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in its refreshed livery, there are newer attractions and hidden gems to be discovered along the way. This walking tour focuses on how the area has responded to change over the years, adapted and developed to create the vibrant mix of activity we see today.
Highlights of the tour include the Theatre Royal Drury Lane — representing four centuries of continuous theatre use from Sir Christopher Wren’s first theatre on the site to Benjamin Wyatt’s 1812 building which now houses the majority of the public foyer spaces.
This landmark building recently reopened following a major overhaul by architect Haworth Tompkins which restored its historic lobby spaces to their former grand configuration and made the 1920s auditorium more welcoming and effective for contemporary audiences.
Other highlights include the Royal Opera House which has recently been transformed by Stanton Williams Architects — opening up what had previously been a fairly constrained set of spaces to the world outside. The architect’s new Bow Street extension now presents a welcoming public face to the building while the expanded and interlinked foyer spaces breathe new energy into front-of-house areas.
Providing a safe and fun way for enthusiastic urbanists to over to explore the city, this tour will explore the architecture and history of Westminster’s cultural heartland and is presented by Open House as part of Westminster City Council’s Inside Out festival.
Meet: 1.30pm on the River Terrace (facing the river Waterloo Bridge end) at Somerset House WC2R 0RN. Ends at Dury Lane. Duration: 2.5 hrs approx.