London City Walks: Walks Unless otherwise stated, the charge for all walks is £10.00 per person.
Walk descriptions below are in alphabetical order
A Breath of Fresh Air: Blackheath
Starting from Blackheath Village in the ticket hall of Blackheath Station, this circular walking tour uncovers some of the best-kept secrets of South-East London. Find out where golf was introduced to England, who is buried under the heath, and what Ripper suspect once lived here. And before you leave, why not try one of the village’s fine pubs or its thriving Farmers’ Market next to the station.
A Very Special Relationship
Celebrating a number of remarkable Americans who have had a decided impact both on London and on Britain, this walk begins on the forecourt of Charing Cross Station outside the Charing Cross Hotel and ends at Bond Street Station (Central and Jubilee Lines). Among the colourful (or should that be ‘colorful’?) characters featured on this walk are: the socialite who became the first woman to take her seat as a Member of Parliament; the inventor who made himself a set of wooden false teeth and used to sit naked at his front window; the general who spearheaded the Allied invasion of Europe in World War II; and the US President who shares a Bond Street bench with a British Prime Minister.
All Hallows to St Paul’s
Threading its way through the lanes and alleys around the Tower, we then strike out westward, ending at St Paul’s Underground Station. Along the way, we: visit a secret garden where palm trees flourish in the midst of the City; follow a river that netted a catch of Roman skulls; talk about a temple that once ran with blood and a mighty church that arose from its ashes after the Great Fire of London; stand on the site of an ancient Speakers’ Corner; see St Paul’s Cathedral through a gateway that was once topped with human heads; and visit a monument to six million burned books.
Betwixt God and Mammon
Starting from All Hallows, this walk steers a course between many of the City’s notable places of worship and several of the most iconic buildings of London’s financial district. As well as including some stunning architecture, the walk offers a chance: to meet a half-virgin, the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street and a group of naughty nuns; to see a church whose crypt is now a station ticket hall and another which had a problem with bad language; to visit London’s oldest synagogue and the ‘Westminster Abbey of the Square Mile’; to discover where the Great Fire of London started; to hear about a giant and a ghost; and to learn what Londoners call ‘the Gherkin’.
Blood, Fire and Pestilence: The Dark History of the City
This walk, which starts from All Hallows, sets out to uncover the City of London’s unhappy associations with plague, fire, murder and execution. En route, we encounter: plague pits, the Devil’s ill-starred visit to a City bell tower, a Jack the Ripper murder site, a multiple axe killing, a man who was hanged drawn and quartered long after he was dead, the City’s most notorious execution place, and a fire that came close to destroying the capital completely.
Bloomsbury: Groups, Squares and Triangles
If all you know about Bloomsbury is that it was home to groups of artists and writers who lived in squares and loved in triangles, this walk should introduce you to many other aspects of this fascinating district. Meet in the booking hall of Tottenham Court Road Station, close to Exit 2.
Celebrating the City
The City of London is exceptionally rich in curious ceremonies, many of them centuries old. Where else would you find rents paid in roses, fish and horseshoe nails, a statue that gets a new quill pen every few years, or an annual sermon inspired by a lion? This walk sets out from All Hallows by the Tower to track down the sites of some of the oddest of these customs.
Centre Point to Marble Arch
After meeting by Exit 1 of Tottenham Court Road Underground Station, we set out westward along Oxford Street. The route takes many twists and turns to uncover some of the oddities that lie on either side of a street most of us know less well than we think. Be prepared for the unexpected!
Christmas Ghost Walk
Christmas is the time for ghost stories, and this walk through clubland and Royal London aims to introduce you to the most blue-blooded of spectres. As we leave from the booking hall of Green Park Station to penetrate the wintry streets and lanes of St James’s, you will learn about: the club-owner buried under his own gambling floor, the headless lady of Green Park, the Buckingham Palace suicide, the ghost of the Golden Lion and many other top-drawer spooks. In case your blood is chilled, you can take comfort: this, like all our walks, ends within easy reach of some good pubs where you will be able to…revive your spirits?
Christmas Lights & Sights
Everyone knows about the Christmas illuminations in Oxford Street and Regent Street, but the West End has a lot more to offer than these, as you will discover. Starting from just under the clock outside the main entrance to Selfridge’s (nearest underground stations Marble Arch on the Central Line and Bond Street on the Central and Jubilee Lines), we shall be concentrating on the less well-known and more fashionable areas on both sides of Oxford Street, where hidden boutiques surprise and exclusive stores compete to attract customers with window displays that range from subtle to dazzling! Along the way, you will also encounter some of the more curious features of this fascinating part of London. Our destination will be Piccadilly - just in time for tea at the Ritz, in case the walk has given you a taste for the high life!
As its name suggests, this walk tells the stories of some of the remarkable women who have left their mark on the Square Mile. Starting from the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, we follow a circular route, taking in a variety of sites linked to: a royal murderess; three ghosts; a Roman emperor’s mother; a half-virgin; a number of angels; and many others, some saints and some sinners but all exceptional.
City Churches 1
Starting from the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral close to the statue of Queen Anne, this walk wends its way through the winding mediaeval street pattern of the City to explore the varied architecture of Sir Christopher Wren’s greatest London churches and find out more about their earlier history. Along the way, you will discover some of the secret places of the capital and learn about how the City churches link Dick Whittington to a bunch of killers.
City Churches 2
While “City Churches 1” examines the exteriors of Sir Christopher Wren’s City churches, this walk, which begins in All Hallows by the Tower Church, delves into the interiors of some of the most fascinating churches on the eastern side of the City to uncover their hidden treasures and discover some of their curious stories.
City of Vice: Covent Garden
Covent Garden hasn’t always been the vibrant and fashionable meeting place it is today, and this walk, which starts from the forecourt of Charing Cross Station just outside the Charing Cross Hotel, explores its varied history from Anglo-Saxon times to the present. On our way, we shall be exploring: what linked a group of gardening monks and a famous harlot; how cabbages gave way to café culture; where London’s first Punch & Judy show took place; why an actor haunts the underground station; who was the ‘City of Vice’s’ most unusual thief; which Poet Laureate saved Covent Garden, and which one was beaten up there; and what was discovered under the Opera House.
City Pubs 1 – Around St. Paul’s
Plots – liaisons – brawls – murders – hauntings: the pubs of the City of London have seen all of these, and the area around St. Paul’s has some of the most interesting and curious pubs to be found in the whole of the Square Mile. This evening walk, which starts from the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral close to the statue of Queen Anne, wends its way through a maze of streets and alleys, to tell some of the strange stories of the City and its hostelries. Because we shall be calling at two or more outstanding pubs, this walk will last between two and two-and-a-half hours.
City Pubs 2 – Blood, Black Hearts & Booze
The vicinity of Smithfield Market has been associated with bloodshed and butchery (human as well as animal!) for a thousand years, but butchery and beer have long been close companions, and this area is also the City’s “pub heaven”. On this walk, which starts from the entrance to Barbican Tube Station, we shall be discovering: where a man could legally sell his wife, what market became so scandalous that the Victorians closed it down, which pub became the “Court of Dusty Feet” and how many ghosts drink in a single City tavern. Because we shall be calling at two or more outstanding pubs, this walk will last between two and two-and-a-half hours.
The City’s Bridges
Starting from inside All Hallows by the Tower, this walk takes in all the City’s Bridges before ending close to St Paul’s Cathedral. Along the way, you will hear about the bridge that sprouted heads, the elephant that walked across the Thames, a daredevil pilot and a quick-witted bus-driver.
Cry Me a River
The River Thames has been described as ‘liquid history’, and on this walk from All Hallows the history of the Thames and the part it has played in the life of the City will be explored as we make our way from All Hallows along the north bank between the Tower of London and Blackfriars Bridge. City churches will feature prominently, as will the various Livery halls we encounter along the way, and you will hear a number of decidedly fishy stories. On the river itself we shall see bridges and wharves as well as the river traffic, and, in addition to the buildings and other sights on the northern river path, we shall see the Globe theatre, Tate Modern and other features of the south bank.
Dickens & the Lawyers
After meeting outside Temple Underground Station, we make our way via the historic and picturesque Inns of Court to the Dickens House Museum in Doughty Street. On the way, we shall see, in addition to the highlights of Dickens’s legal London: a lamb and a flying horse, one of the City’s oddest pubs, the building where Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night was first staged, and a memorial to one lawyer who became a saint.
Dickens Goes West
Starting from the forecourt of Charing Cross Station in front of the entrance to the Charing Cross Hotel, this walk explores an area that Charles Dickens knew well and used in many of his novels. It passes the street where both Dickens and David Copperfield had lodgings, the church where Dickens’s parents were married, and the site of the infamous slum that was the model for “Tom-all-Alone’s” in Bleak House. Finally, it reaches the fringes of legal London – a district so important in Dickens’s life as well as his fictions that we have given it a walk of its own, “Dickens & the Lawyers”.
Dickens in the City 1
This walk, which begins in Guildhall Yard, makes its way through the heart of the Square Mile to lace together key scenes from Dickens’s life and his novels, from Scrooge’s counting-house to the building where the young Dickens encountered a thieving dog and two giants. It also introduces places important in the lives of Dickens’s contemporaries, including a writer who coined some of the most terrible puns in the English language!
Dickens in the City 2
As well as being a brilliant comic novelist and an influential social reformer, Dickens was a haunted man, imprisoned by his own history and preoccupations, and doomed to revisit and rework them in an attempt to exorcise his demons of shame, desertion, rejection and loss. Starting from the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, this walk explores the darker side of Dickens’s genius.
The Thames runs through the heart of London, and this walk, starting from the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral close to the statue of Queen Anne, follows the course of the river as it flows east towards the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. On the way, we shall encounter: a notoriously wobbly bridge, a church dedicated to a former pirate, a mansion that once hosted a banquet for five kings, and even the site of London’s first public lavatory.
Greenwich: Where East Meets West
Once a humble fishing village and now London’s newest Royal Borough, riverside Greenwich has been home home to kings and queens; astronomers and navigators; poets and privateers; and many more. Starting from under the figurehead of the Cutty Sark tea clipper, this walk will introduce you to parks and palaces, museums and markets, and all the variety of a vibrant community. If Greenwich was good enough for Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Francis Drake, Dr Johnson, Vanessa Redgrave, Liam Gallagher and Jools Holland, maybe you too should give it a try.
Guildhall to the Tower
This walk largely follows in reverse the route of The Tower to Guildhall. For fuller details, please see that entry.
Hammersmith Pub Tour
Starting from the ticket hall of Ravenscourt Park Underground Station, this circular walk takes in: a bridge opened by a Jack the Ripper suspect, the pub where the “New Tricks” team celebrate a successful day, England’s smallest public bar, the spot where a local killed a ghost (honestly!) and some glorious riverside scenery.
Hangings, Burnings & Hauntings
Starting from the steps in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral, this walk follows a tortuous and bloodstained route through the streets and alleyways of the City. On our way towards London’s biggest meat market, you may encounter two ghostly murderesses and the loathsome Black Dog of Newgate. You will certainly learn about: a famous and feared execution site; the City’s most haunted pub; a street where grave-robbers and doctors traded in dead bodies; a church built by a court jester; and a place notorious for centuries for hangings, burnings and torture. Join us, if you are bold enough, for this walk.
Hiss the Villain
This circular walk, which starts from the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral close to Queen Anne’s statue, concentrates on the seamier side of London, and invites walkers to encounter a range of cheats, frauds, thieves, whores and cold-blooded killers. On it, we shall be passing a notorious no-go area where life was cheap, one of the mediaeval City’s worst red-light districts, the site of a prison described as ‘an emblem of Hell itself’ and the court of law where for a hundred years Britain’s worst criminals have been brought to trial. We shall also be hearing about some of the most chilling monsters connected with our route, from Dickens’s fictional Fagin to the possibly real Sweeney Todd.
I Spy Strangers: Foreign Presences in the Square Mile
Since its foundation, London has been a cosmopolitan city, and this walk from All Hallows maps the contributions made to its development by people whose birthplace lay outside England. Leaving All Hallows, you will find out: what the Romans taught us, and what Roman custom is still practised on the Thames; what a group of sixteenth-century Germans did with the heads displayed on London Bridge; who got blamed for the Great Fire of London; why London businessmen owe such a debt to Turkey and the Netherlands; why a City church is dedicated to a Scandinavian king; and how a whole island won a medal.
Icon to Icon:
This walk, which begins from the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral close to the statue of Queen Anne, follows the course of Fleet Street and the Strand, with frequent excursions into the neighbouring lanes and alleyways to hear the stories of their famous (and infamous!) former residents, from Doctor Johnson to Sweeney Todd. It ends at Trafalgar Square, the focal point of national celebration and for many people the symbol of Britishness.
Kensington to Notting Hill
Meet by the exit from Kensington High Street Underground Station for an introduction to the diversity of the Royal Borough: a walk that moves from a shopping mecca and a royal residence to the fringes of “The Belly” (Portobello Road to you and me).
Let’s All Go Down the Strand
After meeting outside Temple Underground Station (District and Circle Lines), we follow the Strand from the boundary of the City of London to Trafalgar Square. On the way, you will learn about: the engineer who saved a city; the nobleman who demolished a church to build himself a mansion; the revolting peasants whose appetite for sweet wine led to their death; the cat who is the most frequent diner at the Savoy Hotel; and the oddest street name in London.
Londinium: The Roman City
We begin with an introductory session in the Crypt Museum of All Hallows Church, outlining the main events of Roman rule, which covered nearly 400 years and using the city model there to give some notion of the geography of Roman London. From All Hallows the walk will take in some of the best-preserved stretches of the Roman city wall before heading for the sites of the Forum and Basilica, the Amphitheatre and the Fort, before ending at the Museum of London (where there is a very good café which is open all day!). Because this walk will cover a slightly longer distance than most of our programme and will include a visit to the Amphitheatre remains under Guildhall Art Gallery, it will begin at 10.30 and is likely to take two and a half to three hours.
London Heroes 1
This is one of a series of walks celebrating men and women whose courage, humanity and talents have changed life in London for the better. From our meeting point on the steps of St Paul’s close to the statue of Queen Anne, we make our way along a circular route, encountering on the way firefighters, martyrs, explorers, reformers, inventors, public benefactors and a whole host of ordinary Londoners who performed acts of extraordinary bravery.
London in Print 1
This walk starts outside St Paul’s Station (Central Line), close to the former centre of London publishing and bookselling. It goes on to follow in the footsteps of Shakespeare, Dickens, Dr Johnson and many others who have left their mark on the City in printers’ ink, finishing at Temple Station (Circle and District Lines).
Londoners in Love
Celebrating St Valentine’s Day with a look at London’s lovers, both real and fictional, this circular walk starts, unless otherwise advertised, from the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, close to the statue of Queen Anne, and heads off, appropriately enough, to the church of St Bride’s, Fleet Street. Proposals en route are encouraged but not compulsory!
This walk combines the highlights of “Walking Whitehall” and “Parks and Palaces” to show London at its splendid best. Setting out from the forecourt of Charing Cross Station, just outside the hotel entrance, the walk will take us through the very heartlands of power and pride, from Whitehall to Buckingham Palace and from Trafalgar Square to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament.
Marylebone to Mayfair
Meet by the exit from Regent’s Park Underground Station for a walk that encompasses both Sherlock Holmes and James Bond and leads through the bright lights of the West End to a once-notorious red-light district. On the way, you will discover: how Marylebone got its name, where a sandwich reportedly proved fatal, why the U.S. Embassy is moving south of the Thames and what a pickadil was.
Ironically, one of London’s most exclusive, expensive and stylish districts is named after an annual May fair described as “a disgrace to the Creation” and finally suppressed as a “public nuisance”. This walk, which begins just inside the entrance to Green Park next to the Ritz Hotel (nearest station Green Park - Jubilee, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines) follows a circular route that reflects both the seedy past and the glittering present of this fashionable and fascinating area. It leads past mansions and five-star hotels; embassies and leafy squares; exclusive clubs and luxurious restaurants and bars.
Meet the Royals: the Stuarts
After meeting on the forecourt of Charing Cross Station just outside the Charing Cross Hotel, we shall follow the story of one of Britain’s most troubled and colourful Royal Families, the Stuarts, who came to power when King James I succeeded Queen Elizabeth I. During the walk, you will learn about a variety of scandals, plots and intrigues, ranging from the amorous activities of King Charles II to Guy Fawkes’s Gunpowder Plot and the mistakes that led King Charles I to be executed. Along the route, we shall see a famous London palace, the site of Charles’s execution, the military headquarters whose guards still wear the uniforms of the 1600s and the great park founded by the Stuarts where two Royal brothers had a celebrated disagreement.
Mincing, Seething and Staining: the Lanes and Alleyways of the City
The City is famous for its mediaeval street plan of narrow, winding lanes and alleys, which has survived the Great Fire of London and two World Wars, retaining both their oddities of layout but also their often very strange names. Hence this walk’s title! Leaving All Hallows to explore the twists, turns and curious secrets of the City’s hidden byways, the route will introduce, amongst other curiosities: Dick Whittington’s London address, the Livery Companies always at ‘sixes and sevens’, the grave of Mother Goose, the mice that were said to have killed a man, a corpse in a cupboard, and the drug that fuelled seventeenth century business and was almost banned by a king.
Paddington to Little Venice
From the concourse end of Platform 4 at Paddington Station, this walk takes us along the Regent’s Canal, ending close to Warwick Avenue Station. Discover along the way the role the railways and canals played in the life of the capital, learn about the life of London’s “water gypsies”, and encounter a few quirky surprises.
Parish Bounds 1
All over the cities of London and Westminster there is evidence of parish boundaries, still commemorated in many places by the curious ceremony of “Beating the Bounds”. This walk will centre around the City parish of All Hallows, where one of the most striking Beating the Bounds ceremonies is celebrated annually on Ascension Day. The walk will start in the church itself, and will then explore the physical and historical limits of the parish.
Parish Bounds 2
All over the City and Westminster there is evidence of parish boundaries. “Parish Bounds 2” starts from the steps at the front of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and goes on to feature the City parish of St Mary-le-Bow, famous for its elaborate tower and the iconic Bow Bells, and to explore its physical and historical boundaries. We visit a Norman crypt, discover St Mary’s links with Norway and Australia, learn about two scandalous murders and find out what happened to a queen who visited the parish for pleasure. Be warned! The walk, which touches on a wide range of history, architecture and tradition, is more than a pleasant stroll. It could be the beginning of a fascination with the City and its parishes.
Parks and Palaces
For almost a thousand years, since Edward the Confessor built his palace here, Westminster has been at the centre of Royal London. Around and between the Royal residences of this area has grown up a vast area of parkland. Originally intended for hunting, these parks are now public pleasure grounds, and this walk, which starts from outside the Charing Cross Hotel on the forecourt of Charing Cross Station, leads from the sites of Westminster and Whitehall Palaces towards Buckingham and St James’s Palaces across some of London’s loveliest open spaces. On the way, you will learn about: a drunken elephant; a crane with an artificial leg; a game that gave its name to a street; two old ladies who changed a king’s building plans; and the most famous orange seller in English history.
Piccadilly and St James's
Like the Mayfair walk, this walk sets out from just inside the entrance to Green Park next to the Ritz Hotel (nearest station Green Park - Jubilee, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines). Exploring both sides of Piccadilly, we shall discover: some of London’s finest and most selective gentlemen’s clubs; a famous foodstore founded on the profits from secondhand candles; Sir Christopher Wren’s only West End church; a great art gallery in a splendid mansion; and a fashionable shopping arcade where you are not allowed to run, whistle, sing, open an umbrella, wheel a pushchair or carry a parcel!
Police, Pubs and Pirates
Starting from outside Tower Hill Station, we cross glitzy St Katharine’s Dock and strike out eastward into the old dockland area of Wapping to find traces of pirates, London’s first real police force,and many dark deeds, plus some very fine pubs. The walk ends at Wapping Station.
Rotherhithe to London Bridge
Meet in the booking hall of Canada Water Jubilee Line Station for a two-hour walk with spectacular riverside views. The route takes you from Marc Brunel’s tunnel under the Thames to the two most famous bridges over it. On the way, you will discover a prince’s tomb, a pub that flies the Stars & Stripes, the Devil’s Neckerchief, and a fish called Wanda!
St. Botolph: The Traveller’s Friend
St. Botolph is the patron saint of travellers. He also has an enviable reputation for dealing firmly with marsh monsters (whatever they may be!). It should come as no surprise, then, that a church dedicated to St. Botolph stood beside no fewer than four of the mediaeval City gates. This walk, which begins from the entrance to the Museum of London (nearest underground station St Paul’s on the Central, DLR and Northern Lines), generally follows the course of the old City Wall past a number of the ancient gates, and offers an introduction to the communities that grew up around them, the traffic that passed through them, and the changing roles of the churches that served them.
Saving the City
Some may say that nothing can save the City but this is all about Conservation! On this walk, we look at conservation areas, successful examples of preservation and some total disasters. You can choose your own candidates for demolition! Planners and architects have often found solutions to respecting the past without standing in the way of progress, and thoughout the ages builders have recycled materials and made good use of the resources available to them. The walk will start in the east of the City concentrating on the built environment and the defences which have indeed saved the City.
Although we think of Shakespeare as ‘the man from Stratford’, he spent most of his creative life in London, and the city left its mark on him. This walk, which starts from the pond outside St Lawrence Jewry church in Guildhall Yard, leads through the core of Shakespeare’s London to where he worked and where he spent his leisure time with friends and fellow writers.
Signs of the City
This is a walk full of interest and detail, aimed at City enthusiasts and newcomers alike. Along our route you will encounter bollards, coats of arms, pub signs, weathervanes and much more, and by the end of the walk you will feel equipped to interpret the City via its signs, symbols and pointers – everything, in fact, needed to navigate the Square Mile.
Stations and the Cross
This walk is all about transport and the City. It will include important London stations, both underground and overground, and the crosses of its title are Crosswall and Crossrail. The walk will incorporate the history of London Transport as well as considering future developments. As to our method of transport, it will be on foot! We hope that every step of the way will be full of interest and provide great exercise in good company.
Summer in the City
The traditional view of London is that of a city shrouded in fog or lashed with rain. This walk, though, celebrates summertime in the city, and introduces walkers to the delights of a sunny London at leisure. After meeting at Temple Underground Station (Circle and District Lines), we move from the riverside to explore how Londoners relax and enjoy a summer’s day. That at least is the theory, but, just in case, don’t forget to bring an umbrella!
Thanks for the Memory
From outside St Lawrence Jewry Church in Guildhall Yard, this walk heads east in search of reminders (often frankly dotty) of the good, the bad and even the ugly of the Square Mile. It’s a walk for the curious in search of – well – the curious!
Things Are Looking Up
If you keep your eyes on the pavement, you may pick up a few pennies as you walk along, but if you look up as you pass through the streets of this exciting and extraordinary city, you could make some astounding discoveries. Join us at Temple Underground Station (Circle and District Lines), and discover such surprises as: a flying horse, a flag-waving lamb, some very prudent squirrels and no fewer than five giants.
Time and Tide
In the City of London time is money. Time is even measured on the face of the new Stock Exchange by its famous Noon Mark. However, on this leisurely stroll, which begins on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral close to Queen Anne’s statue and will include a stretch of the City’s waterfront, we shall be taking time to consider the importance of time and tide to Londoners through the ages. We shall also be taking a timely look at some recent additions to the north shore of London’s tidal river, checking our watches against a fine sculpture which is also a sundial, and hearing stories about a punctual Lord Mayor, some not so long-winded vicars and a poet who went out without his tide tables and lived to regret it. Finally, no walk is complete without an appearance by Sir Winston Churchill, and this one is no exception.
The Tower to Guildhall
This walk, which starts in All Hallows, links two (often opposed) centres of power in the City of London. The Tower of London was built by William the First, after his invasion of England in 1066, not so much to defend London as to intimidate the City, whose own centre of government is Guildhall. On our way between the two, we shall examine Royal links with the City as well as a number of City customs and institutions dating from Roman times to the present. You will hear stories of some of the most colourful Lord Mayors (including a killer and a pantomime hero!), follow a Royal Coronation route through the City, and visit a range of memorable sites, including Mansion House, St Mary-le-Bow of Bow Bells fame, and Guildhall itself. The walk will begin in All Hallows by the Tower and end on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
The theme for this walk is the Great Fire of London, which took place in September 1666. Starting at All Hallows Church, the spot where the eastward spread of the fire was halted, we head west to the Monument and then on to trace its course into the heart of the City. Much of its extraordinary story will be told in the words of Samuel Pepys and other eye-witnesses, and the walk will end at the Museum of London, which has a major exhibition featuring the Great Fire.
The Victorian City
The nineteenth century was perhaps the most exciting period in the history of London, and this walk aims to reflect that excitement. Starting from All Hallows Church, we shall be following a winding course through the City, looking at reminders of the enormous achievements of the Victorian age in art, science, finance, architecture and transport, and considering also some of the many huge problems and challenges that Victorian Londoners had to face. The walk will end with a free visit to the Victorian collection of the Guildhall Art Gallery.
After meetingin the ticket hall of Westminster Station (Jubilee, Circle & District lines), we make our way through the heartland of British Government to follow a thousand years of history from Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament to Trafalgar Square where the walk will end. On our way past important Government buildings and the great ceremonial site of Horseguards, we shall be telling the often odd and frequently funny stories of kings, queens, politicians and protestors.
Westminster Pubs 1 – Upstairs, Downstairs
This exploration of one of London’s most fashionable and luxurious districts moves between the haunts of high society and the pubs where servants traded goods and gossip. Starting from the booking hall of Sloane Square Station (which, until recently, was the only station on the London Underground system with its own bar!), this walk takes in: the scene of Oscar Wilde’s arrest, a pub set in a mid-twentieth-century time-warp, a one-time gangland haven where the Great Train Robbery was plotted, and the site of a tragic haunting.
Westminster Pubs 2: Scandalous Soho
Hunting ground? Asylum for refugees? Entertainment centre? Gangland battleground? Red-light district? Bohemian quarter? London’s Chinatown? Soho has been all of these. This walk, which begins outside the Argyll Street exit of Oxford Circus Underground Station, opposite The Argyll Arms, takes in a flavour of all of these – and some splendid pubs too! It ends at Tottenham Court Road Station.
This walk, which celebrates the many extraordinary women who have lived and worked in the City of Westminster, starts from the forecourt of Charing Cross Station outside the Charing Cross Hotel, and follows a winding route to end at Westminster Underground Station (Circle, District and Jubilee Lines). Among the stars of the walk are: the clever actress who said yes to King Charles II; the beautiful duchess who said no; the group of campaigning women who wouldn’t take no for an answer; three princesses; four queens; the American parliamentarian who had a celebrated war of words with Churchill; Britain’s most famous nurse; and an Iron Lady.
What the Dickens?
London was vitally important to Charles Dickens. He wrote: ‘A day in London sets me up again and starts me. But the toil and labour of writing day after day without that magic lantern is immense.’ London is also a central character in his novels: sometimes exhilarating, sometimes confusing and sometimes downright sinister! This walk, which starts on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral close to the statue of Queen Anne, interweaves the complicated story of Dickens’s whirlwind and often troubled life with the locations of many of his novels. With Christmas in mind, not to mention the recent Disney film, we shall be concentrating most on A Christmas Carol, but we shall be hearing too about other, darker books in which London plays a significant part.
Writers Over the River
After meeting, prosaically enough, outside Marks & Spencer’s “Simply Food” on London Bridge Mainline Station, we set out to follow in the footsteps of Chaucer, Shakespeare and Dickens, and encounter a vast gallery of characters, from Mr Micawber to Bridget Jones and Harry Potter. Along the route, we pass a sailing ship that has travelled round the world, London’s most popular food market and a burial ground reserved for prostitutes. We also learn how a bishop came to run eighteen brothels!