Sunday, 8 February 2015
It's that time of year when Two Temple Place opens its doors again. Downton fans might recognise the stunning staircase from Lady Rose's wedding. I always feel under-dressed as if I should be sweeping downstairs wearing something like this.
This is the fourth year that this astonishing Victorian mansion has put on an exhibition drawn from public collections outside of London - but to be honest, it's the magnificent building that has drawn me every year. (And it's free to get in, which is always good. On the other hand, £4 for an Eccles cake ... as a northerner, I made do with a cup of tea.)
This year's exhibition is appropriately drawn from the collections of Victorian industrial entrepreneurs from Blackburn Museum, Towneley Hall and Haworth Art Gallery (no connection with the Brontes!) Who would have guessed - not me - that Blackburn has the largest collection of Japanese prints outside of London, or that Haworth has the largest collection of Tiffany glassware in Europe? I do wish they'd brought down more of the Tiffany, because that's much more to my taste than a Victorian industrialist's collection of dead beetles. On the other hand, I nearly skipped the cases full of coins, then found myself quite charmed by the run of coins from every English monarch ... must have been a bit like collecting Match Attax or cigarette cards and getting very excited when you nabbed a George III or a Henry II.
But what I most enjoyed was a quiet moment in the Great Hall, catching the late afternoon sun as it lit up a magnificent stained glass window and all the glowing reds and golds were reflected across the wood panelling. There's some lovely pictures here from the gentle author of Spitalfields Life, straying off his usual territory, although he's talking about the exhibition from a couple of years ago.