Yesterday I found myself with a group of 19 strangers roaming about in Somerset House. Some of London’s best events and exhibitions can usually be found here but on this particular day I opted for … wait for it … staircase porn.
I should back track and tell you that I’ve only recently heard of the award winning Miles Stair located in the West Wing of Somerset House. Naturally I went to check it out for myself and as luck would have it I was just in time for a free guided tour on the historical highlights of Somerset House led by a resident expert. She walked us through some of her favorite staircases including Miles Stair. Built in 2014, the staircase was designed by renowned architect Eva Jiricna, and is constructed using Ductal, a high performance lightweight concrete, and a stainless steel central core. The daylight coming in from the window behind the staircase gave it an ethereal glow solidifying it as one of my favorite staircases in London (it’s a growing list!).
We also ventured to the South Wing, home to two glorious staircases with historical significance. The uniquely designed Nelson Stairs – which kind of reminds me of the trick staircases in Harry Potter – led to the Navy Offices in the 1700s. The grandness of the staircase suggests the importance of the Navy during that time. It was damaged during the WWII bombings but fortunately was restored to its original design. Imagine being able to go up and down these stairs everyday?!
Last but not least was a visit to the Stamp Stairs. This staircase used to give access to the Stamp Office for all things tax related. I wish I could tell you more but I stopped listening because I was too preoccupied with the view. I should note that the tour covers much more than just staircases and is well worth the time. The historical highlights of Somerset House tour is held on Thursdays 1:15pm & 2:45pm and Saturdays every hour starting at 12:15pm with the last tour at 3:15pm. You can pick up the free tickets at the information desk in Seaman’s Hall from 10:30am on the day.