Sunday's Street Art Walk...
Here's a photo-essay... More
If you want to go on the Ripper
Walk this summer with the world's leading expert on Jack the Ripper, here are the dates the distinguished crime historian Donald Rumbelow will be guiding the walk. More
Behold! A photo essay for the
Wednesday afternoon Chelsea walk More
Looking Ahead - Thames Mudlarking
next Autumn/early Winter - here are the dates... More
Planning Ahead - Foodies Walks
next Autumn/early Winter - here are the dates... More
Down the Tube
Fiona's 150 Years of the Underground walk is coming back into the programme. It'll take place at 11 am on the first Tuesday of every month. Baker Street Tube, Baker Street North exit.
Summer Programme PDF
It's about one inch up from the words you're reading right now! Enjoy.
"The world's leading expert
on Jack the Ripper" is back in action. Yes, the broken bone's healed and Donald Rumbelow is guiding again. More
The Jack the Ripper Walk
Making a booking. You don't have to but you can. Here's how... More
Hire a Guide
If you're thinking about "going private" this is worth a read... More
All upside, no downside
Like a small lottery win... More
LONDON WALKS CALENDAR
It's intuitive. It's quick. Get in. Find what you want. Get out. More
The sobriquet for our day trips. A different destination every Saturday! Plus a few wild cards. See the little gem of a pdf due north of these words.
Thames Mudlarking Schedule
Beachcombing with the world's leading expert on this stretch of the Thames foreshore. Can't be bad! A click takes you to the Summer 2013 schedule. More
on the London Walks Blog. "...want to thank you for all the daily tidbits about London which i absolutely adore, I also thank you for this cool game which I'm starting to enjoy a lot! :-) Cheers!" Two clicks and a scroll down takes you there. More
Behind the Termini Walks
Here are the particulars for Rachel's Summer 2013 Behind the Termini walks. And she's penned a tasty little blurb for each of them. More
Old Mayfair – the Photo Essay
It's our sexiest photo essay. Take a look and you'll, er, see why. it's just gone up. More
Fitzrovia – The Photo Essay
Here it is... More
The Lord Mayor of London and Guide Jean in their finery on a London Walk on Christmas Eve! More
Guided by the Stars!
London Walks has better guides – including the distinguished crime historian who is "internationally recognised as the leading authority on Jack the Ripper"! Here are the dates Britain's foremost crime historian will be guiding the Ripper walk between now and the end of February. More
Don't Just Take It From Us
Just out. A fab review of Shaughan's Old Jewish Quarter Walk More
This little film is why you book a private ghost walk with London Walks. More
Proper Tea in London!
Want the real thing? Rather than a cup of hot water and a teabag. And most definitely rather than something that costs a king's ransom. Well, let London Walks beam you in. Get in touch and we'll tell you where. Local knowledge – you can't beat it!
Harry Potter Film Locations
We've made a delightful film of one of our Harry Potter Film Locations Walks... More
The San Francisco Chronicle
has just given London Walks a rave review – "the unfailingly fascinating London Walks", etc. etc. etc. Yet another one for the What They Say About LW trophy case. More
Her neighbourhood (photo essay and some accompanying historical remarks)... More
Don's Capitol Hill Address
Yes, the International Homicide Investigators Association wanted to hear from the world's leading expert on Jack the Ripper. And that's what we mean when we say "There's no comparison" between London Walks guides and the knock-offs. More
London Walks guides have four!
books in the pipeline. Aunties' Charley, Charles' autobiography, is published next month. To be followed by a London Stories companion volume – it takes as its subject our Day Trip, out-of-town destinations. And Rachel's book on Jewish London. And "The World's Greatest Guide" – Karen's – on Royal London.
The Knightsbridge Pub Walk
every Friday night. If you're tempted, go for it. It's a great walk. Here's a really detailed description – with photos. More
It's the Ultimate Accolade!
In the starting lineup of "The World's Greatest Guides". Yes, it's London Walks guide Karen. The august American travel publication Travel & Leisure has just crowned her in their "The World's Greatest Tour Guides" article. She's one of just 15 – and, yes, the only one from England. More
Tugs All Your Heart Strings!
It's about a little Londoner – a 3-year-old – and Moo Moo and the Northern Line and a couple of heroes... More
Legal & Illegal London
A private Legal London walk guided by a barrister – a member of one of the Inns of Court – is as good as it gets. More
If I have to have it More
Dreaming of the Cotswolds
Here's why... More
It's a Feast!
Foodies' London has now got is own website.
Compliments to the Chef!
10 out of 10
You want to read something that's both powerful – and magical – about our town and our times and past times (with a couple of stunning photos to accompany it) hit the link More
London Walks on BBC
"Helen Marks discovers a dramatic transformation to the waters of the River Thames" is how the BBC is trailing the Radio 4 programme on Thames Beachcombing. It's aired bright and early – 6.07-6.30 am – on New Year's Day. And then available on BBC Iplayer. And there'll be a rebroadcast.
London Ghost Walks
The new London Walks website – www.londonghostwalks.com – is up and running. It's Adam-written and designed, so it's witty and classy. More
The Man is back –
and guiding! Back from China, Donald Rumbelow, "internationally recogised as the leading authority on Jack the Ripper", will be guiding the nightly – 7.30 pm from Tower Hill Tube – Jack the Ripper Walk on... More
Yes, London Walks operates year-round! More
Blog - Twitter
Free Walks... More
The 300+ "one-offs" and "occasionals" we're doing this summer are set out chronologically on the Special Walks page. More
Etc. Quite a lot of etc. More
Old Jewish Quarter
Check it out – the film of the walk. More
Here It Is!
The at-a-glance list of all of our out-of-town trips (to Stonehenge, Oxford, Winchester, Cambridge, Hampton Court, Bath, Rye, Constable Country, Lavenham, Avebury & Lacock, Glastonbury & Wells, Leeds Castle, St. Albans, The Cotswolds, etc.) this summer. All 128 of them! More
The London Walks Walkers Facebook Group
Nine compelling reasons why you should seriously think about signing up for it More
"Donald Rumbelow is internationally recognised as the
leading authority on Jack the Ripper". Don regularly guides our Ripper Walk. His schedule (April to mid-Sept.) is now up. More
is wonderful! Who writes it?" More
The Hampstead Film
is here More
The new film of our Bath trip More
on the way! More
Like Halley's Comet
It's just once or twice a century More
And Lookee There!
Ghost? caught on a photograph on our ghost walk? See the London Walks blog.
"If this was a golf
tournament every name on the Leader Board would be a London Walks guide" More
of our British Museum Tour premieres here! More
tongued with fire More
Who wants to see
the Queen? More
Our New Film is
a brilliant taster of the "Somewhere Else" London Walk... More
London Walks Films
Check 'em out. More
Walks & Kids
Here's a tip More
going on the Oxford & Cotswolds trip? Here's a review. More
Ghost Walk Film
It's here More
London Walks Walkers
This is for you, compliments of the sparkplug, the live wire... More
Our New Film
stars Greenwich and the Prince of Guides, Nick. Brilliant walk, brilliant guide. You can see it here. More
The Jack the Ripper Walk Film
and other matters (the book, the blog, etc.) More
And the Gold Medal
goes to... More
of our Cambridge trip! To see it click the link. More
Don't let them bait and switch you!
This'll take care of it... More
Here's what The Guardian says about it... More
Want to see the cover? Just scroll down.
Something you might want to know More
Jack the Ripper's Knife
Don's got it... More
London Walks has a new award-winning Blue Badge Guide! And the "back story" is a bit of all right as well. More
St. Pancras Walks
Guided by an architectural historian! More
from Lance's Poetry in Performance walk More
Are these the five best paragraphs ever written about London? More
Our book... More
Now Hear This!
Sound, glorious sound - we've got sound! More
Go on one of Adam's walks... More
What The Papers Say...
"the best insight into Jack the Ripper..."
The Star on The Star! More
Distinctions matter. More
in the Crypt at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, the old church in Trafalgar Square, has re-opened! More
And the Chinese Ambassador... More
"We'll give you access to places the public don't normally get to see." More
The Whale in the Bathtub
Yes, this one's worth following up! More
Get an Oyster Card... More
It only happens once a century!! More
London Walks ®
Yes, you guessed right. That little symbol means exactly what you think it means. London Walks ® - our name - is now a registered trademark! Our registered trademark!! More
A Big House in a Big Woods on a Big Lake in Northern Wisconsin
That's where your London Walks leaflet comes from in North American. But it gets even quirkier. I mean, how charming is this? More
Website Contributions Invited...
Yes, let's get some of your fingerprints all over this website! More
Visit London - Best London Tour Award
And the winner is... More
A website about London and London Walks is necessarily a "work in progress". So here's a quick pointer to the latest additions to the site More
Donald's new Ripper book
It's called Jack the Ripper: Scotland Yard investigates... More
The two London Walks programmes - Winter & Summer
In case you're wondering... More
London Walks Leaflets
Here are some places where you can always pick up a London Walks leaflet... More
Q and A
Is London Safe?
Is London Expensive? More
Don't miss Adam's verray parfait piece about the weather on the Daily Constitutional (the London Walks Blog).
Design by mediasterling
OLD WESTMINSTER BY GASLIGHT
Ok, Try to Top This
Martha - Toronto
Although we didn't get to observe Parliament (they rose for the evening before the walk ended), we did learn a lot about the area and had a chance to visit a pub. I didn't realize that there are a number of private homes in the streets near Whitehall, and we were able to see many (from outside) and hear about famous occupants. This walk is a nice way to spend the evening. Angela used her microphone and I had no difficulty hearing her.
H Evans - Vancouver
The write-up makes this one sound more exciting than it was. The tour guide didn't use her mic and traffic around about was very noisy - as a result, unless you pushed your way to the front, you couldn't hear much. We didn't cover as much ground as some of the other walks, and Commons wasn't in session (note: they're all away on holiday for summer, so check the dates if this is one of the reasons you're doing this walk!) so that part didnt' happen.
Hi H. Evans from Vancouver,
It's David here.
In response...just a couple of points.
First of all, I'm not at all surprised it wasn't very "exciting" if you weren't able to hear much. It's cold comfort, but I'm pretty sure you would have felt differently about the Old Westminster by Gaslight Walk - indeed, have found it as "exciting" as we and lots of walkers do - had you been able to hear most or all of what Angela had to say about the ground she was going over.
Obviously we'll have a word with her about the audibility matter. Really surprised to hear that because, while the traffic levels are pretty horrific at the outset of that walk - right there in Parliament Square - Angela has perhaps the finest voice of any London Walks guide. You don't have as celebrated a career as an actress as she's had - in fact, she's currently in a show, which is why I'm normally guiding that walk just now* - if you've got problems making yourself heard. And that's in theatres that hold an audience of a thousand or more people - perhaps 25 times as many people as she gets on that walk on a very big night! And of course the other thing - as you've touched on - is she's one of the London Walks guides who has the "back-up" - if it's ever needed - of that wonderful "Chattervox" portable amplication system. (It's a very fine system indeed - it was developed in Denmark for people teaching dressage - it's very powerful, the sound quality is superb, it's very light, etc. Well, it's not light on the pocket book - but you want sound reproduction quality that high you're going to have to pay for it.)
So I'd say in the first instance, to a certain extent there has to be a two-way street here. By that I mean, did you ever let Angela know that you were having trouble hearing? Had you done so she most certainly would have cranked things up - or switched on her Chattervox. Range, projection, etc. - that voice of hers isn't the problem - you could be on the other side of Parliament Square and she could make herself heard! And make herself heard very agreeably - because not only does she have a very powerful, trained voice - it's also the most exquisitely beautiful voice.**
All of which is by way of underlining just how important walker<guide communication is. In a sense it's every bit as important as guide<walker communication! By that I mean if the guide's "communication" with the group isn't reaching everybody - well, it's important for those members of the group to "communicate" with the guide about that very matter.
And we can certainly go the extra mile in this regard. When I guide that walk I always start it by saying something along the lines of: "this walk fallls very neatly into three parts - we're going to start by taking a good look at the 'public face' of Westminster - this Parliament Square area. Then it's on to the 'private face' - we're going to explore that nest of wonderful little Georgian back streets. It's where all the political salons are - the British equivalent if you will of Georgetown. And then we'll end by going over Lambeth Bridge and back along on the other side of the river to Westminster Bridge. And then over Westminster Bridge to end right here at 9.30 pm sharp, so any of you who want to can go into the Strangers' Gallery in Parliament. If you want to, that is. And providing they're still sitting, of course - and they normally do sit very late - at least until 10 or 10.30 pm on a Monday night, which is one of the very good reasons why we run this walk on a Monday night! Most of what I have to say about the Palace of Westminster I'll say on the other side of the river - because the view across the river to it is so stunning and because there's no traffic at all over there. Similarly, the back streets we get into on the second leg of this walk are very tranquil - there's no traffic whatsoever back in there. So that's very easy on my voice. But here at the outset - in this Parliament Square area - the ambient street noise is a force to be reckoned with - the traffic levels are pretty horrific - but if at any time you can't hear me...well, please let me know...wave a hand or something...it's a frightening thought but there's a lot of spare capacity in here." (At which point I jab a thumb in the general direction of my chest!)
Anyway, this is precisely what I was hoping we would get in at least a few instances from this new "walker feedback functionality". The point being the "colloquy" possibilities. Both between us and you - but also in a sense between us and anybody else who drops by here. It's all part of the learning curve for everybody involved. As I said, I'll certainly have a word with Angela. And in a sense thanks to your posting this note it's a chance for us to "have a word as well" with our community of walkers. That word being a very simple but resounding: "if at any time you can't hear for heaven's sakes let the guide know". The sine qua non for this activity is being able to hear the guide.
Moving on...your point about visiting Parliament is also well taken. Obviously they have to be sitting for us to be able to go in there at walk's end. We do say in the leaflet - and in the blurb on the website for this walk - that after the walk you'll "normally" be able to "go inside Parliament and watch it in action". And "normally" means just that - i.e., most of the time. But when they're in recess (i.e., during the "Long Vac", which is from the end of July to the beginning of October; during their Christmas and Easter breaks; and of course when Parliament is dissolved during the several weeks prior to an election.) - well, at those times of course the door is shut against us and everybody else, for that matter. Indeed, against Members of Parliament when Parliament's been dissolved! They've got no right of access to the place once a Parliament's been dissolved.
But again, the general point is a useful one - and well taken. One of the things I love about the walks - and about the London Walks operation generally - is that you just keep on honing things. (Case in point, Richard III has just discovered that there's a gas lamp on The Old Palace Quarter Walk that we can turn on - or off! It's the only chance in the world that any of us will ever get to turn on a gas lamp! How neat is that. Angela and Richard III and Peter G. and I and others have been guiding that walk for many years - and that discovery has only just been made. That's the thing about a guide's marinating in a neighbourhood for many years - you drill down deeper and deeper, you get to know it better and better, you become part of the furniture - the locals get to know you and trust you and they'll point stuff out to you that would never be entrusted to an "outsider". And while we're at it, it's also an example of the "collegiality" of London Walks [the which is another aspect of LW that I really love] that he was on the phone to us within a day, saying: "I've got the most fabulous tip - have made the most wonderful discovery - for anybody who's guiding The Old Palace Quarter Walk".)
And in this instance a further bit of "honing" - come about thanks to your input (in short, we'll do our best to respond to your light touch of the spur!) - is that we'll try to put up - in the Latest News section - a "weather report" as to the likelihood of our having access to the Strangers' Gallery on any given Monday night. The which is a first-rate principle in general: I'm thinking - for example - of the Roof Garden in Kensington. It's just so very very special that - that I'll try and flag it up here when we've got access to it. It comes into, needless to say, our Old Kensington Walk.
Finally, I must confess I'm just a little bit puzzled by what you say about the distance covered. A normal London Walk takes two hours. The pub walks take about two and a half hours. Two and a half hours because we build into the walks brief stops - 15-20 minutes each - at two interesting pubs enroute. And of course we end at a third pub.The point being that you get the same amount of "content" - two hours' worth - on a pub walk that you get in a normal walk. And the extra half hour or so is to allow for those two pub stops.
Now the Old Westminster Walk normally only makes one pub stop enroute - which is why I sometimes describe it as a "hybrid walk" - so in effect on that one you're getting two hours and fifteen minutes of "content". More in other words than you get on a "normal" two hour walk. And I'd say that the route is in fact slightly longer - distance-wise - than that of quite a few of our routes. It's certainly a little bit longer than the daytime Old Westminster Walk because it's got that extra component of that spectacular "home stretch" along the other side of the river for "the most famous night-time view in Europe".
A final general point: I can guide 51 different London Walks...and I'd put this one very near the top of my personal "Leader Board" - certainly in the top half dozen. I've guided it hundreds of times and I'm always "excited" by it. The combination is just so extraordinary: public face, private face, and "the most famous night-time view in Europe". And the material is astonishingly rich. And the "look" of the place, the buildings - precisely because it's at night. Westminster Abbey almost spectral - thanks to the way they light it; the intimacy of those little back streets - I have to confess that one of the charms of going through there in the early evening is that in many cases they haven't got around to pulling the curtains on some of those houses and because the lights are on - well, you can see front room "furnishings" - see how some of the MPs live (and of course the whole area is lit by gas light, which is a real treat); and finally there's "that" view - the view from the other side of the river - Parliament itself all lit up and the Thames robed in the gold of its - the Palace of Westminster's - reflection. It's stunning. And it adds up to a thrilling walk.
*When I mentioned right at the outset that I'm doing most of the ones that are going while Angela's in her current acting job - the sub-text of that is that one of the perks of being the Capo is that I pretty much get to pick and choose which walks I want to guide. And needless to say I plump for my favourites, for the ones that I love, for the ones that I find most stimulating. And the fact that I'm always keen to take a crack at that one every chance I get - well, that surely speaks for itself.
**Now about Angela's voice - well, for starters she was one of the thesps who was chosen to "voice" the narration for the National Gallery's "audio wands". There are thousands and thousands of actors in London - and to be one of the two or three whom the NG chose to "front" their commentary...well, need I say more?
But if you'd like me to...how's this for a personal tale? About a year ago we got a phone call on a Thursday night from an American man who was on the Ripper walk and got separated from the group and was lost. He'd been with Judith - as many of you know we regularly put two guides on the Ripper Walk because it's very popular and we like to split that big group into two smaller groups. Anyway, he'd been with Judith and he stopped to take a photograph or whatever and he lost them. Anyway he rang here and we got to work on it. Called Judith first of course. Her mobile was on the answering machine - so came up empty handed with that one.
So I tried Angela - the Jack the Ripper Walk on Thursday evenings is normally guided by Angela and Judith. Angela answered. Well sort of answered. She was obviously in full flow. Her phone started ringing. So she just hit the Answer button so it wasn't ringing while she was hitting high C after high C! But that meant that the line was open. I could hear what she was saying. And - perhaps even more to the point - I could hear how she was saying it. Now not to put too fine a point on it, I was spellbound. I couldn't put the phone down. And the point is that I used to guide that walk. I know the material very well, etc. etc. But I was hanging on her every word. It was beautifully modulated - in its own way, quiet - although perfectly audible. And all the more effective for being "quiet"...for her getting some "stillness" around it. It's worth repeating: I couldn't put the phone down. Talked about it afterward to quite a few people - "that's really how it should be done - rather than bashing people with it - that material is so strong, you do it that way - quiet, ever so slightly understated, beautiful voice - it draws people - their imaginations - right into that night in 1888 and what took place right there, in Mitre Court, just along from Artillery Passage. In other words, for the "fury" and "frenzy" that took place in Mitre Court on that night all those years ago - "sound and fury" - racket - is not what's needed: what's needed is a beautiful voice setting out what happened in pristine clarity...and so carrying the ear - and thus the mind's eye - right there, vividly, quite terrifyingly. It was - and I'm not using this phrase lightly - a tour de force. Some of you will know - well, one because you've been on her walks...or indeed because I've talked on a few occasions to some of my walkers about how extraordinary that moment was. I couldn't put that phone down - even though I knew the material very well and indeed even though keeping the meter running on a mobile phone call can be financially ruinous!
Oh, and, yes, a happy ending for the lost Yank as well. Angela tracked him down, got him to Liverpool Street Tube and got him home safe and sound.