It's London Open House Weekend, an incredible initiative where many of the capital's most interesting buildings are opened up to the public for free. Avoiding the obvious, popular ones that threatened queues, a friend and I went to have a look at a building whose driveway I'd often driven past but had never known what was beyond the gates: The American International University, Richmond.
It's an old Victorian gothic pile on top of Richmond Hill. Students study to the American system, a broader curriculum than the European model. They're not all American students, which I'd imagined, but come from all over the world.
The grounds were beautiful on that warm, autumn evening, with some fantastic, mature trees. But, most interesting of all to an old building junkie like me was this:
A derelict art gallery next door. Like the University, completely hidden from the road. In one of London's most prime property positions imaginable, quietly crumbling away. Our guide told us the University had tried, without success, to buy the building. She didn't know who it belonged to. It looks like it's been tagged on to the back of a house, also not visible from the road. What's inside? Who does it belong to?
I'm off to see another hidden house close to my home this afternoon, this one a tad smaller.
Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.