London's Hidden Interiors

From the grandeur of Whitehall to an unremarkable high street in south London, a peek behind the capital's less well-known facades reveals an amazing architectural heritage that rivals some of its most visited and celebrated sites, as these images from a new English Heritage book illustrate

Drapers' Hall, Throgmorton Avenue:The Drapers' Company acquired this site from Henry VIII in 1543. Despite the building being destroyed by the Great Fire of 1666 and again in 1772 and being rebuilt twice in the 19th century, the interior is still the finest Victorian livery hall, with a suite of rooms that make Buckingham Palace seem homely. Indeed, the Hall and Drawing Room have been used as alternatives to the Palace in various films, including The King's Speech. The Livery room, pictured, has scenes from The Tempest and A Midsummer Night's Dream on the ceiling and marble Corinthian columns march around the entire room

St Christopher's Chapel, Great Ormond Street:Dedicated to the patron saint of children, this tiny exquisite neo-Byzantine chapel was designed to inculcate religious awe in impoverished and illiterate children from the surrounding slums. The central dome is painted with an orchestra of 12 angels playing musical instruments, while the columns of rare Devonshire pink marble are carved with gilded flowers, owls, squirrels and mythical beasts to inspire children's imaginations. Designed by Edward Middleton Barry in memory of his sister-in-law Caroline, it was funded by her husband William Henry Barry, the son of Sir Charles Barry who co-designed the Palace of Westminster
Derek Kendall

2 Temple Place, Victoria Embankment:This former residence of the Viscount Astor sits in a prime location on the banks of the river Thames. It was built for William Waldorf Astor, newspaper proprietor, financier and hotelier, who opened the Waldorf Hotel in 1908. Upon the death of his father in 1890 he became the richest man in America and moved to London a year later. The only specifications he gave to architect John Loughborough were that the building should personify and celebrate literature and liberal arts. The result was one of the most opulent Victorian houses in London. The great hall, shown here, has a roof of carved Spanish mahogany, lined with a frieze of 54 portraits of characters from history and literature

Geometrical staircase and Library, St Paul's Cathedral:Hidden from the public gaze in the south-west tower of St Paul's Cathedral is one of London's most awe-inspiring spaces – the Geometrical Staircase which serves the Cathedral Library. While Inigo Jones introduced the first stone cantilevered staircase in England between 1629-35, for its colossal scale and structural ingenuity Wren's stands in a league of its own. It was built by the master mason William Kempster with delicate wrought-ironwork by Jean Tijou. Spiralling to the heavens, it swirls in two great revolutions up to the Cathedral Library, which is a veritable time capsule, untouched since its completion more than 300 years ago
Courtesy of English Heritage