National Trust special tours of European embassies in London

As part of the National Trust’s Europe & Us programme, three embassies threw open their doors for three days of behind-the-scenes tours. The openings offered an intimate glimpse into the inner sanctums of diplomacy as part of Heritage Open Days. On Thursday 8, Friday 9 and Saturday 10 September 2016 we ran tours of the French & Portuguese ambassadors' residence and the Danish embassy and residence.

What visitors saw

On show were the principal rooms of the French ambassador’s residence, Danish embassy and residence and the home of the Portuguese ambassador.

Visitors had a chance to see one of these three fascinating buildings and their contents, including reception rooms, dining rooms and offices, and the wealth of pictures, furniture and decorative art that reflects each nation.

On show at the French Residence was a range of valuable art and tapestries and the dining room where Her Majesty the Queen has dined four times with French Presidents.

At the Portuguese Ambassador’s home there is a splendid marble staircase, a 17th century tapestry series based on designs by Rubens and a masterpiece by London-based Portuguese painter, Dame Paula Rego.  

The 1970s Danish embassy and residence is the last great work by the Danish architect and designer, Arne Jacobsen, who also built St Catherine’s College, Oxford, and had a transformative impact on the Scandinavian design revolution of the mid-20th Century.

What visitors saw

On show were the principal rooms of the French ambassador’s residence, Danish embassy and residence and the home of the Portuguese ambassador.

Visitors had a chance to see one of these three fascinating buildings and their contents, including reception rooms, dining rooms and offices, and the wealth of pictures, furniture and decorative art that reflects each nation.

On show at the French Residence was a range of valuable art and tapestries and the dining room where Her Majesty the Queen has dined four times with French Presidents.

At the Portuguese Ambassador’s home there is a splendid marble staircase, a 17th century tapestry series based on designs by Rubens and a masterpiece by London-based Portuguese painter, Dame Paula Rego.  

The 1970s Danish embassy and residence is the last great work by the Danish architect and designer, Arne Jacobsen, who also built St Catherine’s College, Oxford, and had a transformative impact on the Scandinavian design revolution of the mid-20th Century.

Danish Ambassador's living room, photograph on the wall taken by Per Bak Jens Title: The Door
Danish Ambassador's living room

Why the embassies?

The embassy openings are part of a wider National Trust aim to celebrate places where people live and work, offering the public access to usually inaccessible places. It is also part of our Europe & Us programme that seeks to gain understanding into our long relationship with the Continent. 

Room in the French Ambassador's Residence
Room in the French Ambassador's Residence, Kensington Palace Gardens

Heritage Open Days

The weekend-long event was part of Heritage Open Days, England’s annual festival of history that involves 5,000 events and 40,000 volunteers in a long-weekend of access to special places of historical interest, all for free.