Two Temple Place has one of the most remarkable interiors in London and for three months a year you can see it for free. Every Spring it plays host to an exhibition that showcases items owned by Britain’s regional museums. This year the exhibition is Rhythm and Reaction: The Jazz Age in Britain. Let’s go inside Two Temple Place.
William Waldorf Astor gave his architect an unlimited budget to build an estate office with some living space above in 1895. Everywhere you look is ornate wooden panelling and sumptuous stained glass. The central staircase that connects the working and living spaces is crowned with a stained glass ceiling.
William Waldorf Astor liked books and history, we know this because the interior is scattered liberally with literary references. The ornate mahogany carvings on the central staircase depict Shakespearian heroes. But pride of place is reserved for his all time top favourite book; Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. Each newel post is topped by an eighteen inch high stature of the novel’s characters.
Not content with Shakespeare and Dumas, there are yet more literary references upstairs. The door into the magnificent main room is decorated with nine silver gilt reliefs showing Arthurian heroines.
At either end of this grand room is yet more stained glass. Sunset is depicted in the one at the west end of the room: it is entitled Alpine Lanscape and was created by Clayton and Bell.
Even the entrance to the ladies’ loo is ornate. I had never noticed the discrete brass plate before and felt compelled to go inside. Inside is a vision of yet more wood panelling and ornate tiles. Well worth a visit.
Two Temple Place can be found a few hundred yards away from Temple tube station. Rhythm and Reaction: The Age of Jazz in Britain is on until 22 April 2018 and is free to visit. There is a rather fine cafe open to all during the exhibition, if you happen to be in London between now and the end of April try and make time to see a rather good exhibition and a stunning interior.
If money was no object and you could decorate your house themed on your favourite novel, which would you choose?