16
Mar

On underground caverns & hidden gardens

As I’m new to working full time in the city, I’m really just starting to get my head around how many of the best bits of the Big Smoke aren’t immediately visible at first glance.  Some of the most interesting places in London are out of sight in cavernous subterranean rooms or hidden in courtyards and surrounded by anonymous corporate buildings.  There’s many that are far less well known than the two I’m about to use as examples but these are a couple that I’ve seen recently.

The first example is The Artillery Garden, belonging to the Honorary Artillery Company and situated just round the corner from Moorgate.  Metro was asked to put in place the audio visual equipment for a client’s event there.  Being unfamiliar with this venue, it was quite a surprise to walk along City Road, turn in at the grand façade, with its turrets and stone walls, and suddenly find myself in a six acre space with green gardens and a rugby pitch.   Surrounded on all sides by high rise glass and metal towers, from the street you are given no clue as to the existence of this fantastic outdoor venue.  They put out a huge marquee in the summer and it’s advertised as the largest garden in the city of London.  You can hire the gardens out for corporate days, sports events or even a company barbecue on a sunny afternoon, what a perfect location for a refreshing G&T while you watch the cricket.

The other venue that I recently saw for the first time in person, is the “Great Room” at the world famous Grosvenor House on Park Lane.  A magnificent space two stories underground, the great room was first revealed to the public on the event of the opening of the Grosvenor in 1929.  At that point it was a huge underground ice rink used by wealthy intercontinental travellers and where Queen Elizabeth later learned to ice skate. Since refurbishment as an events space, the venue has seen the Beatles play a live gig in 1963 and has been used for many of the largest and most prestigious awards shows, ceremonies and gala dinners in the UK, as such it appears regularly on the Television.  It features a huge sweeping staircase as well as fairy-tale style chandeliers, and can hold up to 2000 people.  Countless tourists have probably walked right over this fascinating event space with no idea what is deep in the ground beneath their feet.  Metro put in all the audio visual for a large charity fundraiser here, which was a resounding success.  It really is a huge and fascinating place.

We’d be interested to hear any other stories of venues with interesting histories.  Particularly those that are not immediately apparent to the naked eye as you walk the main beaten tracks of the city, so please let us know of your favourites and any interesting stories or histories associated with them.

To leave a comment, just click on the “send feedback” link at the bottom of the post.

Thanks for reading and have a fantastic weekend!

Terence

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