Great Britain is renowned worldwide for its picture-perfect countryside and rugged mountainscapes, with an all-round reputation for unspoiled natural beauty. When it comes to green pastures, there’s no doubt the UK can deliver – but what about Britain’s architectural gems?
Today, the interior design experts at Tiles Direct are giving you a guided tour of some of the UK’s most unique and spectacular buildings – from Gothic abbeys to contemporary skyscrapers – giving architecture addicts a peek inside some of the most awe-inspiring attractions anywhere in Britain.
Westminster Abbey, London
The imposing silhouette of Westminster’s Gothic abbey is one of London’s most iconic structures – originally constructed in around 1245 on King Henry III’s order. A venue that has hosted royal weddings, coronations and burials, Westminster Abbey is as culturally significant as it is beautiful. Its octagonal chapter house is a feast for the eyes, with 13th century tiled pavement, a breathtaking vaulted ceiling and blind arcading among its numerous architectural assets. In 1873, George Gilbert Scott designed the abbey’s magnificent high altar, behind which you’ll find the shrine of St Edward the Confessor – widely considered the most sacred spot anywhere in this world-famous place of worship.
Cotehele, Cornwall (National Trust Property)
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An impossibly grand Tudor house surrounded by the epitomic English garden, Cornwall’s Cotehele is a National Trust property home to detailed tapestries, 17th century arms and armoury, and a miscellany of diverse architectural styles. Its hotchpotch design is the result of multiple rebuilds and remodels, the majority of which were carried out in the Tudor era. A beautifully preserved stone dovecote and the Cotehele clock, the earliest turret clock in the UK, are among this medieval house’s many assets – and a thorough exploration of the building’s beautiful interior and exterior architecture is a must.
The Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow
Affectionately named ‘The Armadillo’, Glasgow’s Clyde Auditorium is one of Scotland’s foremost concert venues and is considered Glasgow’s most iconic building. Created by the world-famous architects at Foster and Partners, the auditorium was designed with both large-scale conferences and more intimate meetings in mind and takes its unconventional moniker from the animal of the same name. Often compared to the incredible Sydney Opera House, although not influenced by its design, the Clyde’s curved shape is said to have been inspired by an interlocking series of ship’s hulls – a testament to its shipbuilding heritage.
The Shard, London
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Located in Southwark, London, the 95-storey skyscraper known as the Shard has dominated the capital’s skyline since 2012 and, at 1016 ft in height, it’s the tallest building anywhere in the UK. Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano and developed by Irvine Sellar, the avant-garde skyscraper was created to replace Southwark Towers: a 24-storey office block demolished in 2008. The pyramidal Shard is entirely clad in angled glass panes, allowing the building to reflect the sun and sky – changing in appearance with the seasons. Originally faced with criticism from organisations such as English Heritage, who claimed the structure would be “a shard of glass through the heart of historic London”, this backlash gave the iconic structure its name.
Belsay Hall, Northumberland
Near Morpeth, nestled in the heart of rural Northumberland, you’ll find Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens. This Greek Revival manor house, built in the early 19th century, is surrounded by luxurious and abundant gardens which change with the seasons – but a trip inside Belsay Hall itself is where you’ll find a truly astounding experience. Its unfurnished Pillar Hall is a sight to behold – giving architecture lovers an eyeful of the incredible craftsmanship that went into this extraordinary building. Explore the space in its entirety to catch a glimpse of the original 19th century floral wallpaper and watch the natural light flood through Belsay Hall’s beautiful atrium.
From London’s iconic skyline to immaculate Georgian estates, the UK is positively packed with sensational architecture – giving history buffs and culture vultures alike plenty of incentive to explore Great Britain’s biggest, best and boldest buildings.