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Guided by Stewart Purvis


The video is a short extract from the recent BBC Four Storyville production Toffs, Queers & Traitors – The Extraordinary Life of Guy BurgessStewart Purvis – who created and guides the Spies of Hampstead walk – had a major role in the programme. As did Stewart's co-author and fellow Spies of Hampstead guide Jeff Hulbert

Short description: The KGB in NW3  

Long description:   There were once so many KGB spies in Hampstead that some lived just a few doors apart. Spy authors and broadcasters Stewart Purvis and Jeff Hulbert have worked out from MI5  files who lived where during the Cold War and the links between them. The first half of 'the Hampstead Spies' takes you to the homes of the spies and you’ll see files about people like Hampstead boy Kim Philby. The second half brings in Hampstead folk who knew and sometimes suspected the spies: George Orwell, Ian Fleming, even a man called Goldfinger. There’s a stop devoted to John le Carre and even Brad Pitt gets a walk-on part from a spy movie he made in Hampstead. But the real thing is better than any spy thriller. The walk is guided by Stewart Purvis or Jeff Hulbert, co-authors of Guy Burgess, The Spy Who Knew Everyone, which the New York Review of Books called "an excellent read”. Stewart, Jeff and the walk were featured in a BBC TV spy documentary ‘Toffs, Queers and Traitors’ in November 2017.


The Spies of Hampstead walk takes place at 10.30 am on the third* Sunday of every month. To go on the walk meet Stewart just outside the exit of Belsize ParkTube.

*March 18, April 15, May 20, June 17, July 15, August 19, September 16 and October 21


Here's Stewart giving a quick preview of the walk. 


 "London Walks puts you into the hands of an expert on the particular area and topic of a tour..."  The New York Times

"by far the most impressive series of walks that I have ever encountered are those offered by London Walks"  Travel and Enjoy

"I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the 'Hampstead Spies' walk with the charmingly affable Stewart Purvis on February 19. I've lived here (right opposite Chalk Farm tube station) for over 30 years now but there were still some streets that were new to me on Stewart's walk and he came along armed with lots of copies of photos and documents, all professionally laminated, to pass around for us all to get a good butchers [look] at. They were a very interesting crowd by the way...lots of well-informed mittel-European (and quite possibly Eastern European) left intellectuals. At each pausa, Stewart kinda dangled a carrot to lead us to more revelations to come, so was giving us exciting Thomas Hardy 'cliff-hangers,' culminating with the former resident at No. 1 Isokon Building, Lawn Road. Having not read your blurb fully, I didn't realize we would end up there, let alone actually get inside and have a welcome from Max, who had helped to save and restore the building. Oh. And at one stop, the resident came out and leaned on her garden gate to discover the history of her home. All very Hampsteady! So here's my thanks to London Walks and Stewart." Andrew Norman, London


 "London Walks puts you into the hands of an expert on the particular area and topic of a tour..." The New York Times


"Most people think spies are afraid of guns, or KGB guards, or barbed wire, but in point of fact the most dangerous thing they face is paper. Papers carry secrets. Papers can carry death warrants." Charles Stross

"The British secret service was staffed at one point almost entirely by alcoholic homosexuals working for the KGB"  Clive James

"There is no such thing as a former KGB man"  Vladimir Putin

The KGB's star recruiter in the UK. We visit his home.


If you can't make one of the regularly scheduled, just-turn-up, public Spies of Hampstead Walks do think about booking one as a private tour. If you go private you can have the Spies of Hampstead Walk – or any other London Walk – on a day and at a time that suits your convenience. We'll tailor it to your requirements. And – always with private London Walks and tours – we go to great lengths to make sure the guide-walker(s) "fit" is well-nigh perfect. Ring Fiona or Noel or Mary on 020 7624 3978 or email us at and we'll set it up and make it happen for you. A private London Walk – they're good value for an individual or couple and sensational value for a group – makes an ideal group or educational or birthday party or office (team-building) or club outing. Or indeed a fab present – be it a birthday or anniversary or get-to-know-your-new neighbourhood gift or Christmas present or whatever. Merchandise schmerchandise (gift wrapped or not) – but giving someone an experience, now that's special. Memories make us rich.


Don't just take it from us or The New York Times


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