Secret London opens its doors

NEXT WEEKEND it's open house at Richard Paxton and Heidi Locher's London pad. Doors to the couple's three-bedroomed home will be thrown open on Saturday morning, exposing every nook and cranny to the world.

Paxton House, in Clerkenwell Green, Islington, is one of about 500 buildings to feature in London Open House 98, taking place on 19 and 20 September. Billed as the "largest architectural exhibition in London", it is the opportunity to view a huge array of buildings which are not normally open to the public. Organisers expect the exhibits to pull crowds of about 500,000 in 48 hours - double the number of viewers attracted last year.

The event is part of European Heritage Days, a scheme which sees 44 countries celebrating their heritage and culture during the month of September. And it's the rest of England's turn today, when more than 1,600 buildings outside London are open to the public free of charge.

Many of the residential exhibits are owned by architects, who are more than happy to show their work to strangers, according to the organiser Victoria Thornton. Ms Thornton, who set up the scheme five years ago, said: "They have great homes and they think it's great for people to see something different."

The London exhibition features landmarks such as the Bank of England, and hidden jewels including Norman Foster's ITN Building. A large number of appointment-only buildings are already booked up.

For more information call: 0891 800603 for today's Heritage Open Days; 0891 600061 for London Open House 98; 0141 2211466 for Doors Open Days (Scotland); 01232 543078 European Heritage Days (Northern Ireland), and 01222 484606 (Wales).