Tourist Attractions Travel

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

On Tuesday you saw me visit Westminster Palace during Open House London, and today I’ll show you the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (also called the Foreign Office) from the same trip. (You can see the Open House even page for more information.) The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is a Grade I listed Victorian building. It was built in 1860 and housed the former India Offices.

The building fell into huge disrepair and was slated for destruction in the 1960s. It was only saved due to the fact that it became a listed building. The building is in the Italianate style. The original architect George Gilbert Scott wanted a Gothic design, but Lord Palmerston (then Prime Minister) insisted on a more classical style.

Interestingly, the glass ceiling in the main hall of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is one of the closest approximations to what the Crystal Palace would have looked like before it burned down.

ceilingbalconydetailingchandaliermore balconymain lobby female diplomats
Trousers: Gap. Cardigan: Gap. Brogues: Joules (similar). Bag: Coach. Shirt: Joy.

meeting tablefresco staircase`

Interesting fact: the after party for the first Twilight film was held here! Have you ever toured the Foreign and Commonwealth Office?

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  • How interesting about the glass ceiling. Such a beautiful building to visit.

    • Bits of it were far less grand – just regular office rooms etc, but the main rooms were lovely! x

  • Fabulous, isn’t it! We discovered it a few years ago through Open House. I never knew about the Twilight connection though!!

  • Another to do for whenever I visit London next!

  • I never knew that about the Crystal Palace – how interesting! I really want to see it myself now lol. Great photographs too 🙂 x

    • Haha, thanks Robert! Since I live in the Crystal Palace area, I’m a huge nerd when it comes to Palace history, what it looked like, why it burned down, plans to rebuild etc 🙂 xx

  • Kate Mitchell

    That’s so cool that you got to go to so many historic places!

    • I think the Open House project is just genius, to be honest! And I applaud all the properties that chose to take part in it and allow guests on the premises for free over that weekend! x

  • What a gorgeous building! The outside reminds me more of Paris than of London, to be honest! 😉

    • Weirdly, (and it’s my fault because I didn’t make it clear at all!) all of the photos are interior shots. The columns, beautiful crown molding etc, is all in the main hall! xx

  • Oh! I missed Open House weekend in London, sad face. I was keen to check out the Gherkin (I heard the views are amazing!) and I’m bummed that I missed it. This looks amazing though – maybe next year. 🙂

    • There were some absolutely amazing properties that your could have toured – like 10 Downing Street! But some of the super security properties (like 10 D) you had to request tickets ahead of time so you could go through a background check, instead of just turning up like we did. Which isn’t to say there wasn’t security! We still had to go through metal detectors, have our bags looked in etc. x

  • Will you be traveling all around Europe or will you be in one place? How exciting for you! xx

  • I can actually see these places in person now! WOO! That shot of the long table is way awesome. I think these open houses are such a great idea. The opportunity to check them out in person likely gets many more people interested in the history of each building and what takes place there.

    • Hurray! I’m so excited for you! What’s the first “tourist” thing that you’ll do? xx

      • Hmm… Haven’t decided. Does afternoon tea count as a “tourist” thing? OR! Seeing the ceramic poppies!!! I’d really like to buy one.

        • I thin tea definitely counts! And come see the poppies – they are really beautiful and touching! x

  • Wow it looks absolutely stunning. Your photo’s are lovely! xx

    • Thank you so much! I think your photos are always exceptionally lovely so coming from you that’s a real compliment! x

  • Right?! I can’t believe they were going to demolish it at one point in time! x

  • oh WOW. I could work there. You know, if I had to.