Kevin McCloud's Top 10 London Tips

Planning a trip to London? Here are Kevin McCloud's top 10 must-see London Architectural landmarks. 

A city steeped in architectural history, London is also home to some of the world’s most modern masterpieces. 

Kevin McCloud, presenter of Grand Designs, shares his top 10 must-see London architectural landmarks:

1.  The Royal Festival Hall

Photo: Claudio Divizia

The Royal Festival Hall, is one of the world’s leading performance venues and is within London’s Southbank Centre complex on the River Thames. It was built in 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain and is a Grade 1 listed building, the first post-war building to be protected in this way.

2. St Paul's Cathedral

Photo: Ratikova

St Paul's Cathedral, London, a Church of England Cathedral and the seat of the Bishop of London, sits on Ludgate Hill, the City of London’s highest point.  The original Church was founded in 604 AD and the present English Baroque style Cathedral was built by Britain’s most famous Architect, Sir Christopher Wren, between 1675 and 1710, as part of a major rebuilding programme after the Great Fire of London.

3. Chiswick House

Photo: Anthony Shaw Photography

Chiswick House, in West London, is a magnificent neo-Palladian villa and gardens built by the Earl of Burlington in 1729 to showcase his art collection. The Chiswick House gardens are the birthplace of the English Landscape Movement and are reputed to be the inspiration for New York’s Central Park. The Gardens were re-opened in 2010 after a restoration project and Chiswick House continues to display many wonderful works of art.

4. The Lloyd's Building

Photo: Dan Breckwoldt

The Lloyd's building, sometimes known as the ‘Inside-Out Building’ is the home of the insurance institution, Lloyd's of London. It is located on the former site of East India House in Lime Street, in London's main financial district, the City of London. The building is a leading example of radical Bowellism architecture in which the services for the building, such as ducts and lifts, are located on the exterior, to maximise interior space. The building is the youngest to ever to obtain a Grade I listing.

5. Saint Bartholomew the Great

Photo: Kiev Victor

Saint Bartholomew the Great, in the historic Smithfield area, is one of London's oldest churches. Founded in 1123 as an Augustinian Priory, it has been in continuous use since 1143, surviving the Great Fire of 1666 and World War II. Apart from its wonderful history and architecture, Saint Bartholomew’s is now famous as a location for a number of movies, including: Four Weddings and a Funeral, Shakespeare in Love, Amazing Grace, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and The Other Boleyn Girl.

6. Serpentine Gallery Pavilion

Photo: Ron Ellis

Each summer for the last 14 years, a renowned architect is invited to design and construct a full size Serpentine Pavilion in the grounds of Kensington Palace, in West London. This year, Chilean architect Smiljan Radic designed a semi-translucent, cylindrical structure resembling a shell, resting on large quarry stones.

7. Great Court British Museum

Photo: Philip Bird

The Queen Elizabeth II Great Court within the British Museum, is a massive two-acre space, enclosed by a spectacular glass roof, which transforms the Museum’s inner courtyard into the largest covered public square in Europe.  In the centre of the Great Court is The Reading Room, once hailed as one of the great sights of London, and a world famous centre of learning.

8. Dennis Severs' house in Spitalfields

Photo: Sourced from 'Dennis Servers' House' page on facebook

Between 1979 and 1999, eccentric American designer Dennis Severs transformed 10 rooms of a Grade II listed Georgian Terrace House in London’s Spitalfields area. Each room has been recreated in a different historic style, as a ‘time capsule’ of the 18th and 19th centuries. Severs bequeathed the house to the Spitalfields Trust and the public are asked to take part in an imaginary journey to another time.

9. Soane Museum

Photo: Courtesy of the Trustees of Sir John's Soane Museum

Sir John Soane's Museum in London’s Holborn area is the heritage listed former home of the neo-classical architect and Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy, John Soane (1753–1837). The small museum was established by an Act of Parliament, requiring that the interiors be kept as they were at the time of his Soane's death 'as nearly as possible' and is full of Soane’s personal curiosities and eccentric taste.

10. Olympic Park - especially the Aquatics Centre, gardens and the Velodrome

Photo: chrisdorney

The Aquatics Centre, gardens and the Velodrome at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford London, are a spectacular curvaceous example of high quality architecture, landscape and urban design. They were designed for the 2012 London Olympics with the Aquatics Centre designed by Award winning architect Zaha Hadid and the Velodrome by Hopkins Architects.

You can watch Grand Designs UK Series 11 on The LifeStyle Channel.

The series is also available to own on DVD and Digital, August 20.

More about the series - 

Kevin McCloud returns for an eleventh series to follow more stories of some of Britain’s most ambitious self-building projects, as intrepid individuals attempt to design and construct the home of their dreams.

From the restoration of a decaying 1920s cinema in South Yorkshire, to a miniature Hollywood Hills-style mansion in North London, the series continues to follow the journeys these passionate and enthusiastic self-builders take to create some of the most unusual or extravagant homes in Britain.


For your chance to Win $100,000 for your own Grand Grand Design or a guaranteed $10,000 Holiday to London - click here

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