Tuesday, 5 August 2008

HOT: Sir John Soane's Museum, 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields WC2A 3BP

Lincoln's Inn fields is lined with staid lawyers' offices until you hit the incongruous, almost Venetian palazzo exterior, of Sir John Soane's Museum. Then go inside (for free) to discover an extraordinary Aladdin's cave of the Enlightenment, which I guarantee will leave you gasping with delight. A bricklayer's son who became a prominent architect, Sir John (as he is called by the museum guides) filled his townhouse with all sorts of trickery - mirrors, panels, skylights, echoing domes - as well as ancient ruins and artifacts, paintings by famous artists such as Turner and Hogarth and 7000 books. Every first Tuesday of the month, the museum has candlelight openings from 6-9pm, and the flickering shadows add a mysterious atmosphere to this melange, especially in the Monk's Parlour and over the Egyptian sarcophagus. It's a small place so they only permit 75 people inside at a time, which means that you really need to start lining up at 5:30pm to guarantee first entry. I highly recommend it as one of my favourite experiences in London.

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