I’ve left it too late now to report on all of our Open House London visits. I can’t, however, miss the opportunity to tell you about our visit to the Custom House on the banks of the Thames, near the Tower of London.
Currently one of the many offices of HM Revenue & Customs. There’s been a Custom House on the site for 2,000 years to collect taxes on the importing and exporting of goods. London benefits from its tidal and navigable river, and in the middle ages it was the chief commercial port of Britain, with many hundreds of ships lined up on the Thames waiting for duty to be paid prior to unloading
The Custom House was the headquarters of Customs & Excise, its officers made sure duties were paid, and tracked down people who avoided payment. They still do. Customs officers happily explained to visitors the ways people tried to avoid paying duty, and their successes in securing convictions of smugglers.
The Custom House is thought to be the fifth on the site. Mostly built in the 1820’s, with some rebuilding as late as he 1960’s. The important face of the building is that facing the river, to impress captains and ships crew. A thoroughly entertaining visit – do visit at the 2017 Open House days as Revenue & Customs will be moving to other premises in the years ahead.