Two Temple Place has one of the most remarkable interiors in London and for three months a year you can see inside Two Temple Place 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.
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.
RHYTHM & REACTION: THE JAZZ AGE IN BRITAIN
If you can tear your eyes away from the amazing building for just a few seconds the actual exhibition is really rather good. Jazz first made its way to British shores a hundred years ago. Bands like the Original Dixieland Jazz Band and the Southern Syncopated Orchestra offered the chance to hear the music live and for others the new fangled gramophone offered a chance to sample the new music.
If you were out dancing to the new music then you needed something pretty jazzy on your feet. I love these gold and green shoes, that were made by the co-op and presumably priced so most could afford them.
Jazz wasn’t just music it was design movement too. War and revolution had rocked the world, opening up the way for new ways of expression. Brightly colours and sharp angles made their way onto all manner of things, like tea and coffee services.
Jazz in its musical form is rather an aural experience rather than a visual one but no matter. If you have Spotify on your phone then you can download the curators playlist and listen to music as you wander round.
NEED TO KNOW
Two Temple Place WC2R 3BD, is a few hundred yards away from Temple tube station.
Rhythm and Reaction: The Age of Jazz in Britain
27 January 2018 -22 April 2018
Opening times: Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 10am – 4.30pm, Wednesday 10am – 9pm, Sunday 11am – 4.30pm, Tuesday closed.
There is a rather fine cafe open to all during the exhibition.
If money was no object and you could decorate your house themed on your favourite novel, which would you choose?
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