One of the quirkiest venues in town, Two Temple Place, is hosting the most curiously eclectic show on in London right now, Cotton to Gold: Extraordinary Collections of the Industrial North West.
Two Temple Place is a crenellated Portland stone mansion, yards from Temple tube station on the banks of the Thames. The building is an astonishing architectural gem, seldom open to the public. Built in 1895 for William Waldorf Astor, it is now the home of The Bulldog Trust. The interior splendours of the house itself are worth the visit alone and include a stunning ornately-carved staircase and a hammer-beamed hall on the first floor with two huge stained glass windows.
For the last few years Two Temple Place has been opening its doors once a year for couple of months to host an exhibition – previous years have included a popular William Morris exhibition and last year a weird but wonderful exhibition of objects from eight of the University of Cambridge museums (highlights of that show included a collection of paddles and clubs from the South Sea Islands; a dodo skeleton; and a cracked egg collected by Charles Darwin)
This year, Two Temple Place has partnered with three publicly owned museums in the North West of England: Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, Haworth Art Gallery in Accrington and Towneley Hall in Burnley to present Cotton to Gold. The exhibition focusses on a diverse group of early 20th century industrialists who made their fortunes from the boom in cotton manufacturing and who amassed extraordinary collections that rivalled the greatest in the country.
The collections include rare Roman coins, priceless medieval manuscripts, a rare copy of Shakespeare’s Third folio, a group of Turner watercolours, part of a massive collection of Tiffany glass, Japanese prints, Byzantine icons, ivory sculptures and even stuffed birds and preserved beetles! More weirdly, a 12th century Peruvian mummy is on display here alongside the Burnley engineer’s journal (bound in wooly llama skin) which tells the Indiana Jones-esque tale of the mummy’s discovery.
Cotton to Gold is a brilliant exhibition, beautifully curated and sensitively handled. Two Temple Place is open only during their annual exhibition, so take the opportunity to see both this great show and the amazing building that houses it before the doors close again for another year. Catch it while you still can.
Mondays & Thursday – Saturday: 10am – 4:30pm
Wednesday Lates: 10am – 9pm
Sunday: 11am – 4:30pm
Closed on Tuesdays
2 Temple Place
T: 020 7836 3715