The legacy of London
Louisa Daley goes through the archives to explore some of London’s top heritage venues
Event professionals are always looking for impressive venues in which to host their events, but there are only so many to choose from. If you have run out of ideas, why not consider using a heritage venue?
We spoke to live communications agency Brands at Work to explore how heritage venues can be utilised by event organisers and the Westminster Venue Collection alongside Unique Venues of London to reveal where you can discover these venues.
Heritage venues are often full of rich history and culture, which makes them “stand out from the plethora of more traditional meeting spaces,” says John Birger, managing partner at Brands at Work (pictured left). So, forget the dull, grey meeting rooms and instead picture high ceilings, nineteenth century architecture and extravagant statues, which you certainly wouldn’t find in an ordinary event space.
When choosing your heritage venue, ensure that your event fits the venue and not the other way around. Birger stresses that event organisers should “let the venue do as much of the work as possible and build on the venue’s unique selling point.” He continues that if you are attempting to cover up any features you have selected the wrong venue.
Instead, Birger advises to “juxtapose clever scenic or technical elements against the fabric of a building to provide an extra layer of intrigue”. After all, you have chosen a heritage venue because it stands out, so don’t try and make it blend in.
To ensure your chosen heritage venue meets a client’s needs, Birger suggests communicating with both your client and the venue. Firstly, understand your client’s narrative and what they are trying to achieve at their event. This way, you can engage with the venue to “personalise and link the spaces in a way that is sympathetic to and befits the location”. This will transform a historic venue from merely a setting, into a bespoke event space, without the risk of losing its originality.
Most importantly, event organisers need to consider the restrictions that come with hiring a heritage venue, as these buildings are often older and therefore need extra consideration. “Simply work extremely closely with the heritage venue and within the guidelines it provides to reduce any additional cost,” comments Birger. Consider elements such as power, floor loadings, facilities and its arrangements with AV or catering providers. If you’re prepared, the restrictions shouldn’t affect the running’s of your client’s event, but instead illustrate what a great event planner you are.
To find these venues, look no further than Westminster, the heart of London. Westminster is home to the most “iconic literature, transport, art and history from the past few centuries,” says Rachel Azzopardi, chair of Westminster Venue Collection.
The National Gallery, located in Trafalgar Square, is claimed to be one of the most-visited art galleries in the world. Event organisers can hire the Grade I* Listed Building during and outside of public opening hours, which offers exclusivity for your event. You can also hire any of its 20 historic event spaces.
Maximum delegate capacity: 1,200
Lincoln’s Inn is a member of Unique Venues of London. The gated estate is “cloaked in art and history which dates back to 1422,” Kirsten Kruls, head of sales and events, The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn reveals.
The building is made of an architectural composition of Grade I* and II* Listed Buildings, which provides an event space for dinners, conferences and wedding receptions.
Opened by Queen Victoria in 1845, its Great Hall is designed in a Tudor Revival style. This event space can accommodate 250 guests for dinner or 400 for a reception. Or, take a look at its newly opened Ashworth Centre which can host up to 158 guests.
Maximum delegate capacity: 400
116 Pall Mall (pictured top)
This heritage venue is also a Grade I* Listed Building and opened in 1828. If you’re all about aesthetics, 116 Pall Mall has an eye catching 4.5m regency chandelier, which was donated by George IV in 1828. To add to its glitz and glamour, the venue has hosted royalty, heads of state and war heroes.
Maximum delegate capacity: 1,000
The London Library
The London Library is the largest independent lending library in the world and holds over one million books across 17 miles of shelving. Despite being founded in 1841 by Thomas Carlyle, today, there is a total of 7,000 members who benefit from the Library’s resources.
These members also include some of the most famous names in literature such as Charles Dickens, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf.
Maximum delegate capacity: 250
The London Transport Museum
The London Transport Museum dates back to 1871, when it was the original Covent Garden Flower Market Building. In 1980, the original Flower Market became the London Transport Museum as we know it, which showcases an electric collection of Buses, Tubes and Trams.
Maximum delegate capacity: 500
Central Hall Westminster
Central Hall Westminster, also a member of Unique Venues of London, is a Grade II* Listed Building which dates back to 1912. The buildings key features include its grand staircase and domed ceiling, which is the “largest self-supporting domed ceiling in Europe,” says Anna Glazebrook, head of marketing, Central Hall Westminster.
The venue has hosted a range of high-profile events and figures, from early Suffragette meetings to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Event organisers have the choice of 25 event spaces, including its Great Hall which can accommodate for over 2,200 guests.
With top tips and a range of venues to choose from, host your next event at a heritage venue, and become part of its history.
Maximum delegate capacity: 1,084