14 September 2011

Open House Weekend

It really does not seem like 12 months have gone by since I went inside my old butcher shop on the Saturday of Open House 2011.
W. Plumb's shop on Hornsey Road used to be my local butcher shop. One of the butchers in there had even gave me a handful of meat hooks to use on my pan rail when I'd asked him where to buy them (this was pre-Ikea!).
The shop closed for business approx 15 years ago probably through lack of business being as it sits in the middle of a terrace in a no man's land between Holloway, Archway, Crouch End and Finsbury Park, and must have suffered when we got swamped by supermarkets.
Every time I walked past I wondered what had become of the gorgeous ornate Edwardian tiled interior complete with mahogany cashier's booth, etched glass and intricate ironwork.
Then I noticed it in the Open House listing last year and breathed a sigh of relief. The adjoining flat is now owned by a lovely Canadian man who can be trusted to keep the butcher's shop intact and unchanged. He is rightly proud of it:
Almost everything is still there as I remember it. I say 'almost' because the butcher's wooden chopping and carving block has been removed 'for health and safety reasons' (oh gawd) and with it another tiled rural scene which formed part of its base. I took lots of photos. I was happy. I still am.
On the 2nd day of Open House weekend last year I went to a Georgian building near Spitalfields only to discover that the place is used an an art gallery so I could have gone there any day of the week (grr; I should have checked the info and paid attention to what I wrote on here last year!). I stayed for the tour which was really interesting but then had a mad dash to try and catch the last opening minutes of the Drapers Hall. Damn. Got there 5 mins late. Made all the more frustrating by people coming out and telling me how lovely it was in there. I was hoping to go this year but it's not on the list :-(
So, my advice is, plan ahead. Check that the buildings are open specially for the weekend only and make a map/gameplan. Be prepared to queue. And be prepared to be disappointed if you don't get in to your chosen buildings.
There's always next year... start planning now as some places are advance booking/tickets only. It's like applying for Olympics tickets, only better because it's free and you'll get a good view.


  1. I hate to tell you this but Draper's Hall was a late addition and was open today (not tomorrow). I went and it is worth seeing.

  2. how funny - I lived around Archway and Hornsey Rd for 25 years and NEVER came across this wonderful shop! beautiful pictures.

  3. Joanna... yes, I found out about Drapers' Hall, but couldn't get there in time, which means i missed out on Carpenters' and Painters' Halls too. But on Sunday I went with my sister to the Apotheacries hall, St Bride's Institute and Middle Temple Great Hall... all very lovely.


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