Open House London’s 2021 Square Mile events

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Check out all the new happenings around Smithfield with their guided tours

It’s time for the nosy Londoners to come out of the woodwork – because Open House London is finally back from 4-12 September. Private buildings all over the City of London (and throughout the rest of the Capital) will be open to the public for one week only.

Expect a huge range of in-person and online events, including guided tours, walking tours, general access visits, children’s activities, and workshops. But book well ahead – especially for high security buildings.

Check out the Open House London website for all the buildings which are open. There are just too many to list – but here are our favourite events taking place in the Square Mile.

Slavery and the City

‘It is not lawful to put it into the Treasury, because it is the price of blood’. These are the words of abolitionist John Newton as he preached from St Mary Woolnoth in the City in 1788. But the abolitionist’s tale is only one side of the coin in the City’s involvement in the horrors of the slave trade.

On this tour, guides will explore sites and institutions with direct links to the history of slavery and hear why the apologies were made last year. Either go to listen or actively join in the discussion of our relationship to history and the legacy of the past to the present.

The Museum of London

The Museum of London is going all out for this year’s Open House London. First off, they have the Morning Explorers event. Guests are invited to become a morning museum explorer at this relaxed early opening on Saturday 4 September. The event will be sensitive to the needs of children with autistic spectrum conditions. Siblings and children with other types of SEND are very welcome.

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See what the future Museum of London will look like. Photo by Forbes Massie.

Next up is Build it! This is the Museum of London’s free-play building session where you and your under 5s can build to your heart’s content! Build the tallest tower, the longest bridge or a London landmark in this drop-in activity. It a whole lot of fun for the little ones.

Stories in Stone is a time travelling story walk from the museum’s current home to its new site in West Smithfield. Explore tales of the city’s magical beasts, everyday heroes and heroines, forgotten voices, dreams and visions and much more by storyteller Olivia Armstrong. Tickets are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis from the Family Desk on the day.

And lastly, these guys are hosting some special tours of the new Museum of London site at West Smithfield. The Museum of London is creating a new museum in the derelict General Market and adjacent post-war Poultry Market. For the first time in 20-years they are inviting the public to explore these spaces in historic and creative Smithfield. See what will soon become London’s newest and most modern museum.

A River’s Tale. A guided walk along the Thames Path

For about an hour and a half, guests will walk along the Thames Path from Millennium Bridge finishing at the old Billingsgate Fish Market along the way learning of the prosperity, power, prestige and plague this great river has brought us. You’ll learn of London’s long relationship with the river, as you walk in and out of buildings along the Thames.

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Check out livery halls like that of Drapers’.

Ancient Livery Companies

Most people in London know very little of the Square Mile’s livery companies. But they have so much power and influence. That’s why the secrecy of these institutions should really be better understood by Londoners. On this walk, you will get a fluffier history of the liveries.

But it’s still a good start, and incredibly interesting. On this tour, you’ll discover some of the craft guilds and trades they governed. And you will admire the halls of some of the livery companies, learn about their ancient traditions and their role in the City administration.

Ask all the questions you can think of on this tour – as the City of London Guides who run them have got all the answers!

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