London Open House: Inside the Foreign Office

It’s that time of year again! September which only means one thing in the capital….Open House weekend!

Usually things tend to get booked up well in advance especially as some of the landmarks included are pretty special – from the BT Tower to even Number 10 Downing Street.

Last year having not won any of the ballots I decided to enter, I took a look at what I could see in the city for free.

And the best by far was definitely the Foreign Office.

Usually you’ve got to be invited in order to visit the Foreign Office, but for one weekend a year, everyone can go.

It’s one of the most beautiful buildings in London i’ve ever seen. The detail inside was unbelieveable. I found it hard to believe that people get to work there every day.

How do you get in?

The Foreign Office is located just off Whitehall and there will be signs directing you to the queue.

The wait might look long but they tend to get people through the door fairly quickly. You have to go through security and have your bags checked – well it is the foreign office after all!

They do have a few rules about photography but you’ll be made aware of those when you enter.

What’s the history behind the building?

According to Open House, the Foreign and India quarters of the building were started in 1861 and took seven years to complete. It officially opened in 1868.

The Colonial and Home Office sections were started after that and completed in 1875.

After a while it was classed as a Grade 1 listed building and was renovated in 1997 however much of the building looks how it did in the 1800s.

I found that the rooms actually got better over time and this corridor was absolutely stunning. The colours were amazing for such an old building!

Oh and definitely don’t forget to look down at the floor when you’re walking around!

Important question! Was Palmerston there?

Yes! Palmerston the Foreign Office cat was there and was rather popular with visitors.

Not only does he have his own seat, his section of one of the rooms is cordoned off and during Open House he has his own minder.

He has a bit of a reputation for catching mice and occasionally ducklings.

Seems like Palmerston is very spoilt to me!

The Foreign Office is open from 10am until 5pm on Saturday and Sunday. The address is King Charles Street, SW1A 2AH. 

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