The Guides

“London Walks puts you into the hands of an expert on the particular area and topic of a tour.”

The New York Times

A

Cambridge University scientist. Palaeontologist. Expert on Jurassic fossils. Research fellow. Tri-lingual. Tokyo Swallows fan. 2 billion Chinese admirers. Award-winning guide. His Dinosaur Tours – this hardly needs saying – are kid magnets. Meet your guide – here’s Aaron being interviewed about the latest dinosaur discovery.

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Adam – charismatic, Celtic, kilted* – spends much of his time endeavouring to live up to his countryman J. M. Barrie’s famous remark: “There are few more impressive sights in the world than a Scotsman on the make.” Mega wattage-talented, he’s a national journalist, author, star guide, star dad, cartoonist and guitar strummer & chansonnier for hire. Anything else? Yes, he’s the only person I know who talks like a well-written magazine article. Wouldn’t surprise me at all if the key to that is where he’s from: that heart-achingly beautiful landscape has got into his mind, into his turn of phrase. That all? No, there’s this: he regularly sets off on all-day, 30-mile walks across London – walking the Circle Line, that kind of thing. This is some kind of man. A guy you’re gonna be real glad you got to know, spent some time with. Check out this video of his Rock ‘n’ Roll London Pub Walk. And for good measure this one of Adam guiding the Somewhere Else London Walk. But don’t just take it from us. Here’s what one of our leading music writers, Lesley Ann Jones (biographer of John Lennon and Freddie Mercury), says about Adam: “You are one of the rare few who respects history and truth. I’d never hesitate to recommend you as a tour guide.”

*occasionally

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Aileen has been a canal enthusiast since her first hiring of a canal boat nearly 40 years ago. She bought her first narrowboat a few years later and joined the IWA about the same time. Her hobbies reflect her boaty interest – the boat craft of making cabin lace and rag rugs, collecting traditional lace and ribbon plates, helping restore derelict canals, giving magic lantern shows depicting Victorian river and canal interest and of course guiding London Walkers along the London canals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Alison is a lecturer for the London Blue Badge Course. A Dickens expert, she’s a prize-winning* Blue Badge Guide herself. When she’s not collecting Antiques! *"Prize winning" is putting it modestly: she won the BCP, one of the two top awards. To use an American analogy, it’s the guiding equivalent of baseball’s Triple Crown!

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Andy is the Keanu Reeves of London Walks. Aka the thinking woman’s crumpet. Aka ‘the Queen Mum’s favourite.’ In the words of the Evening Standard, ‘a class act.’ A strikingly talented young actor – and budding historian – he received rave reviews for his one-man show, George VI in Heaven. He’s good company: laid back, friendly, fun, at ease with himself and his walkers and his handsome, historic old patch. Add to the mix the fact that he’s completely in command of his material and you’ve got a great walk fronted by a very gifted young guide.

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Originally hailing from rural Bedfordshire, Andy’s London life began as an undergraduate at Goldsmith’s College, after which he trained as an actor at Rada.  His work in Theatre, Film, Television and Radio has taken him all over the world. In London he has worked in many theatres, including a number of shows at the National Theatre and the West End. A keen follower of the arts and history, Andy loves sharing the stories of this extraordinary and beguiling metropolis. For his sins, he runs a Sunday cricket team!

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Andy R. crewed yachts in the Caribbean, was held at gunpoint in Haiti and delivered cars across the USA. He’s a grizzled old actor/playwright with a wealth of experience, knowledge, stories and a deep love of his native city.

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Angela is one special actress. "She’s so good it’s almost impossible to compliment her", as Frederic Raphael, the author of The Glittering Prizes, said of her performance in that award-winning series. A similarly smitten Clive James said of her "Helena in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s All’s Well That Ends Well: "You couldn’t ask to hear the words better spoken".

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Ann – quondam BBC journalist and current star Blue Badge Guide (let alone the Helen Mirren of London Walks) – knows everything there is to know about food: its history, where to buy it, how to cook it, how to enjoy it and, into the bargain, how to keep your figure! Of which she's an exemplar!! But judge for yourself – curl up with her lovely voice in this Podcast she made about her Undiscovered London Walk.

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Linguist. Speaks 4 languages fluently, Spent many years conducting tours for Americans around Italy. Her guests – every last one of them – rave about her friendliness, passion for travel and history, and great story-telling. In love with London and the Mediterranean. Her thing about the Mediterranean is so deep-rooted she was surprised to discover her heritage is almost 100% English. Traced her family back – had herself DNA’d – and struggled to find even a hint of Irish or Scottish. She says salt of the earth true English – we say thoroughbred. She says sadly not nobility or none that she’s found yet – we say, thank goodness for that. Loves living in London, her home for 30 years. In her words, ‘revels in the history of this amazing city. I especially love where I live… SW London with its royal connections, historic sites and green spaces.’ In our words: you couldn’t be in better hands, folks. You’ve won the Guiding Lottery if you draw Anna.

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That face, that form, that dignity, that ease. Those powers of pleasing with that will to please. She’s also a demmed good guide.

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B

Historian. Ph.D. Tall. Laid-back. Immensely likeable. Friendly. Californian. Parisian. Knows Paris inside out. Has lived there for nearly 30 years.  Qualified Paris guide. But why not meet Brad? Click here for a little podcast- “profile” interview.

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Brian, a professionally qualified Blue Badge Guide, won the London Tourist Board's Guide of the Year Award in 1994. His career has embraced the law, surveying, catering, dispatch riding and art – and the stage may be beckoning. And if you'd like a completely independent take on Brian's guiding, well, read this Marylebone Journal review of his Old Marylebone walk. Anything else? Yes. Brian's a Black Belt (yes, we're talking Judo). And an artist.

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C

Aileen, Charlie, David, Flora, John, Mike G., Naomi, Richard and Roger all have many years' experience of the Inland Waterways and have explored them extensively by narrowboat (and, in Roger's case, canoe). They're all active members of the Inland Waterways Association, which works in partnership with us to provide the towpath walks in the London Walks programme.

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Caroline is an art historian, journalist, and professionally qualified Blue Badge Guide. London Walks prides itself on cherry picking the best of the Blue Badges and Caroline’s a case in point. She was the art historian/guide chosen by Her Majesty’s Government to give the “First Ladies” a tour during the recent summit. Enough said?

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Charlie, a City of Westminster qualified guide, has been matured by 50 years of London living. He illuminates the underbelly of the city’s past with a passion for its people and how they got places. Put him on a canal towpath and you’ll be gliding into its history. Mention horses and he’ll trot you back to a city of mews and manure. And special places? Catch him in the Olympic park to get the ‘knowledge’ of his years of work on the project. This is guiding with an enthusiasm that will infect you.

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Chris is a classicist, weaver, and  another professionally qualified Blue Badge and City of London Guide working right at the top of her form. She’s very bright and a little bit mischievous. Shake – don’t stir – those ingredients and what you get is a lot of fun. Anything else? Yes, this: she could anthem for England with that voice of hers. Chris is the guide who features in the wonderful little video trailer of our Bath Tour.

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Chris Spence is a licensed tour guide working with the foremost walking tour company in Paris. (Paris Walks, it goes without saying.) He lives in the 11th arrondissement of the capital and holds dual nationality, having been resident in France for around 25 years. He has a wide range of interests including, of course, French history, but is also a musician-songwriter and amateur palaeontologist. For good measure he’s recently discovered the joys of making mosaics! He has travelled widely and published articles as a freelance journalist about his wanderings and about French culture. He has done occasional interviews for radio and tv, and has appeared in documentaries. He conducts more than 20 circuits on different cultural and historical themes in the world’s most beautiful city. The final trump card: with his innate passion for language, Chris can make buildings and monuments talk! Have a listen – here’s Chris’s “merely brilliant” introduction to his French Revolution Virtual (and shoe-leather-on-pavement) Tour.

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Citlalli is a Mexian actress, novelist, doula and guide. She’s trilingual (English, Spanish and German), She’s international (lived four years in India performing Shakespeare all over the sub-continent; travelled throughout Asia; her novel’s about violence in Mexico). She’s a Londoner – educated here, lives and works here, brought her child into the world here, knows everything and then some about London’s streets, its history, its people, its mysteries, its nuances, its genius loci. Let alone the practical stuff: where to get the best cup of coffee, why to go left instead of right on the circular walkway that leads into the Museum of London, etc.

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Best driver-guide in London. (All rounder because she also pinch hits brilliantly on walking tours.) Knows her London – she was bred and born here – but has been a driver-guide for many years. And not just in England. She's just got it. The Good Fairy touched her with the "you're going to be a brilliant guide" wand at birth. In short, she's got the gift – the flair, the knack, the know-how. And that special something, that god-given talent has been honed by years of experience. She's switched on, fun, gentle, enthusiastic, and "awesomely" [as one of her Yank clients put it] knowledgable. And in her spare time she makes the best pasta this side of Genoa. 

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Conan Hales is not a guide.* We wish he was. Not a guide but part of the team because of the contribution he’s made with his photography, especially his shots of Hampstead Heath. In recognition of which, he takes his place here. Conan Hales was born and currently lives in London. In between those two events, his global jobs have taken him to Tokyo, Sydney and Singapore. As a side note, across London, about 69% of babies have at least one parent born abroad (ONS) and he is no exception, nor is his daughter.

Conan got into photography when his late Japanese uncle introduced him to an Olympus OM10 camera at an early age before the age of Instagram. We all owe Conan’s Japanese uncle a debt of gratitude. Comparisons are invidious but I (David) would single out Conan’s photographs of Hampstead Heath (they can be found on Instagram under the pen name c0nanh). And if you’re wondering – and you will be, in both senses of the word – many of them were taken just before sunrise during early runs. He is also an avid cyclist but draws the line at outdoor swimming as he finds the Hampstead pond waters rather cold on the best of days. *We hope he doesn’t draw the line at perhaps becoming a guide one day, starting with photographic tours.

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Corin is an actor and dialect coach. He's coached the “cut glass English” dialect for Julian Fellowes' TV adaption of Antony Trollope's Dr Thorne. He's also taught Maxine Peake how to do the Gloucester accent for Fanny Lye Deliver'd and worked on Ben Wheatley's Free Fire. He is passionate about his home city of London and loves to talk about it. He was born north of the river but mainly lived on the south side and has moved even further south to the coastal city of Brighton. But London keeps calling.

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Corinna is a treasurably barking – and ferociously intelligent – Cambridge bluestocking. Her acting career has taken her from Pantomime Principal Boy to The National Theatre and the hit West End play, Copenhagen.   She’s been known to throw in a song or two on her walks but she leaves her cello at home. Anything else? Yes, she’s also a professionally qualified London Guide and she swims all year round with the ducks in Hampstead Ladies’ Pond.

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D

With more than 20 years’ experience in the media, Dan Parry started out as a BBC journalist before becoming a TV producer. As the Head of Research at Dangerous Films, he worked on international factual dramas for which he interviewed Neil Armstrong, former CIA director (and US President) George H. W. Bush, D-Day veterans, 9/11 survivors, SAS soldiers who captured Bosnian war criminals, and a bar-full of spies and other shady renegades. Dan later freelanced as a story producer, working with David Yates and David Heyman (Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts) and Peter Kosminski (Wolf Hall, The State). He has published three best-selling books accompanying his television work, focusing on Blackbeard the pirate, D-Day and Apollo 11.

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David – the Seigneur of this favoured realm – broods over words, breeds enthusiasms and is “unmanageable.”* A balterer, literary historian, university lecturer, journalist, and lifelong thanatophobe, he’s also the London Walks “pen” – he writes “the famous white leaflet”, let alone the document you’re reading (this website). Or, for that matter, the “piece” you’re listening to! In short, this is what I sound like – chewy diphthongs and all. The Old Kensington, and Old Hampstead Village chapters in our book. Both of which, needless to say, were inspired by and draw on the walks that I guide in those two magical London neighbourhoods. And the Thames chapter, which opens the book, was inspired by my Along the Thames Pub Walk.

*He blames his gene pool, especially the contribution made to it by an American vice president in the dark backward and abysm of time. Yes, that vice president: the notorious bankrupt and womanizer who spread his seed across two continents; who wed, at 77, a 58-year-old former prostitute who had become the richest woman in America (she divorced him less than a year later on the grounds of his infidelity**); a notorious bankrupt and womaniser who was tried for treason.

And those were just his misdemeanours. 

**It wasn’t exactly good riddance: he made off with 13,000 very good reasons of hers – 13,000 very good reasons for having him up for larceny as well as infidelity. And it goes without saying, he went through the 13,000 reasons like a dose of salts.

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Impressive guy, fun guy. Mouth-watering CV. Yorkshire born, Londoner now. World citizen. Lived in the U.S. (American studies at Uni). Lived in Australia (worked at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sidney). Caribbean sailor. Incredibly fit. Biked from Lands End to John O’Groats. Frequently competes in Triathalon and long distance running events. Fitness trainer. Qualified primary school teacher – does a lot of work with school groups. Top-flight professionally qualified Blue Badge Guide. The real deal.

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Londoner born and bred, first degree in Music, former community artist and street performer (some things go full circle!), former government lawyer then partner in City law firm, latterly barrister (nothing to do with coffee: trial advocate). City of London Tour Guide and soon to be Westminster guide, currently donating his guiding income to charity.

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We’ll see your (History’s) Dick Whittington, Lord Mayor of London in the early 1400s, and raise you our own. David P. is Mayor of his own central London Borough, Islington. When he’s not wearing his ceremonial robes, he loves creating narratives about his adopted city, London, a skill he learnt working as an award-winning Producer in British television for over 20 years. He’s the former President of the London Royal Television Society and spent many years using his communication skills working for the European Union in Brussels and Strasbourg. For good measure, he has twice been to tea at Buckingham Palace.

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Fun, quirky, knowledgeable, "Rats" is a City Finance Director who’s seen the light and become a guide.

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Brilliant Blue Badge Guide. Chairman of the Guild of Guides Association. Architecture specialist. All round good guy. 

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Delianne is a (white) witch. The broom’s a scarlet Jaguar convertible. The badge is blue, the hair’s blonde, the nails are ruby, coat and boots are red, style’s Goth, personality’s big, IQ’s Mensa, fun quotient’s huge.

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Desirée; is drop dead glamorous. A former top fashion model and cult film actress, her world overlapped with Princess Diana’s. Comes the walk, comes the guide!

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Donald Rumbelow – “internationally recognised as the leading authority on Jack the Ripper” – is the Martin Scorcese of our Ripper walk. Yes, the master created the masterpiece walk for us – created it, guided it and still mentors it. Don is why those who know go with London Walks. The author of the pre-eminent book* on Jack the Ripper, Don is Britain’s most distinguished crime historian. The former Curator of The City of London Police Crime Museum, he’s a two-time Chairman of the Crime Writers Association, a Freeman of the City of London and a professionally qualified Blue Badge and City of London Guide. *”Donald Rumbelow’s The Complete Jack the Ripper remains the definitive book on the subject” (The Sunday Times).

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Barry is our “Renaissance man.” Nine degrees. Microbiologist – he was in the front lines against Coronavirus. He’s a Consultant Public Health Physician. He’s an Art Historian. He’s a professionally qualified Blue Badge Guide. Have a listen to his Meet Your Guide interview – you’ll come away edified, lost in admiration and pleased. What a life, what a career, what a man! And, yes, what a guide.

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E

Ed fairly coruscates with London lore and expertise, let alone contacts and "connections". He’s the author of London: Exploring the Hidden Metropolis,The London Compendium, A Literary Guide to London, East End Chronicles and West End Chronicles. How "in the know" – let alone irreverant – is he? Well, how does a 10-year-track record at the scurrilous satirical rag Private Eye grab you? His Literary Guide to London has been described as a "mine of information… this book is a must for literary enthusiasts". He has also worked for the Radio Times and Mojo, the rock ‘n’ roll magazine, and co-wrote Fodor’s Rock ‘n’ roll Traveler USA and Rock ‘n’ roll Traveler USA Great Britain and Ireland.

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F

Fiona – actress, descendant of John of Gaunt, elite* professionally qualified guide – teaches juggling, circus skills and escapology (she made a famous break from the London Dungeon). *The works: Blue Badge Guide of the Year, City of Westminster, City of London. Par for the course for London Walks guides: drenched in honours! But that’s enough from me, let’s hear from Fiona herself. Here’s a little podcast she did on her Lure of the Underground walk. And here’s an utterly charming mood music piece on the magic that sometimes happens on a walking tour.

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Dynamo, dynamic, dynamite. Actress, singer, writer and producer. Runs a cabaret and theatre consultancy service in her spare time. Fiona-Jane’s solo shows play to packed houses in London and on national and overseas tours. Featured in The Times, The Guardian and London Live TV, she gets rave reviews for her unique take on historical themes and key events in history, most notably women’s history.

See all of Fiona-Jane Weston's walks

Freddie. Ah, yes, Freddie. Man and boy he’s lived, breathed and battled the London theatre. And come through it to tell the tale – when he’s not directing. From front of house farce to backstage badinage via acting atrocities to operatic outrageousness, Freddie’s experience of the West End theatre scene, past, present and beyond is nonpareil. Anything else? Yes. Freddie’s his nom de guerre. Ah, yes, Freddie.

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G

Gary. London detective for over 30 years. Member of the Anti-Terrorist branch at New Scotland Yard. London historian. London author.* Professionally qualified St. Paul's Cathedral Guide. *Square London ("fascinating, quirky and…flabbergasting") and Death in Disguise  ("a gripping account of a sensational Victorian double-murder in Chelsea in 1870"). 

 

 

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Gillian is a linguist and professionally qualifed – and prize-winning – Blue Badge Guide. And she can out-Fred the nimblest Astaire on the dance floor!

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Greer’s a young archaeologist. She’s to the manner born. (Like Katy she’s aka Bloodline.) Her parents are two of the brightest stars in the London Walks firmament. Her mother, Kim, won the Guide of the Year Award in her year. Her father, Rex, sailed through the Blue Badge exams as "an external student" – aced ’em without having to take the two year course. 

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H

Hannah-Rose is a historian based at the University of Edinburgh and runs numerous community events like walking tours, exhibitions, heritage plaques, and plays. Her book, Advocates of Freedom: African American Transatlantic Abolitionism in the British Isles covers all the info from her walking tours in depth. She’s very passionate about London and its hidden history of Black American visitors.

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Helena – the fair – is an Oxford-educated historian. And an award-winning, professionally qualified Blue Badge Guide. In the words of the poet: “only God could love her for herself alone and not her yellow hair.” Let alone her purple socks! Click here to hear her working her wonders, weaving her spell – in the National Gallery in this instance. Helena now lives in a beautiful place in Cornwall but her heart is still in London (and especially in its galleries) – so, yes, she still guides for us – she serves up the most wonderful art history/appreciation podcasts. And Helena-guided virtual tours in the National Gallery and the V & A are in the offing!

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Hilary, OBE, is a Historian, Soroptimist, and a professionally qualified Blue Badge and City of London Guide Let alone a Supermum! Into the bargain, she’s unquenchably cheerful. With her very English eye for the idiosyncratic and her sense of humour – to say nothing of her sense of history and her command of the material – she’s a star turn. And hey, where else but London Walks are you going to be guided by an OBE!

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I

Degrees from Oxford and UCL in Law and History. City lawyer. Senior Partner of a major international law firm. Got over the wall. City of London Tour Guide (prestigious battle honour to add to the Oxford and UCL complement). Garners no end of rave reviews for his tours. Donates all his guiding income to charity. Special guy(de) indeed.

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Isabelle is a Blue Badge, City of London and City of Westminster guide who is passionate about the history of London and its diversity and loves to share offbeat places in a light-hearted and friendly way. A specialist in Jewish London (with a doctorate and book on the topic), Isabelle is also a trained dramatherapist and loves to bring a sense of drama to all the tales.

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Isobel is an artist, journalist, linguist, prize-winning Blue Badge Guide and London Walks’ token aristocrat. One of her ancestors introduced the waltz to this country. Have a listen: here’s a little podcast Isobel did about one of her walks.

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J

Jackie lawyered, taught and guided her way through to London Walks. Still a bit of Scot in the blood, she tends a herd of Shetland ponies and is the proud owner of a Devil’s Tower. Damned good Blue Badge guide (if a little crazy).

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Geordie ski champion. To walk with Jan is to go off piste in an avalanche. Brilliant. And beautiful. Get to know Jan, have a listen here as she guides the Bankside.

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Jane is from Bloomsbury, where Virginia Woolf’s circle lived in squares and loved in triangles. She keeps up the tradition by living in a square and as a professionally qualified Clerkenwell & Islington, City of Westminster and City of London Guide, loving the triangle she tills. Living at the foot of Centre Point she’s the fixed point of the London compass: London encircles Jane! There’s more: she’s another award-winning London Walks guide.

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As in Jeff Hulbert, the media historian; co-author of Guy Burgess, the Spy Who Knew Everyone; honorary research fellow in the journalism department at City University London; specialises in cinema newsreels, television news and the ways in which the media and political worlds collide.

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Joanne is a practicing criminal defence lawyer who escapes from prison and court cells whenever possible to lead walking tours and run in the London Marathon. Ask her about her Olympics connection.

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Judith, a Canadian, is a well known artist and lecturer on the History of London.

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Judy, winner of the London Tourist Board’s prestigious Guide of the Year Award, is a professionally qualified Blue Badge and City of London Guide.

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Blue Badged, bi-lingual, laid back and 007 (even unto looking the part).

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K

Karen comes trailing clouds of glory. Travel & Leisure crowned her “the world’s greatest tour guide.” She hosts the Canadian television travel show “London Next Stop.” She won the London Tourist Board’s Guide of the Year award. She’s the author of Royal London. She is, quite simply, a star turn – which is why she’s the “go to” London guide for every major media concern. [Interlude: you don’t need to take it from us or Travel & Leisure or Canadian television or the London Tourist Board – you can decide for yourself. Have a listen to this: It’s a Podcast Karen did on London’s oldest and most storied restaurant. Her visit there – her privileged access visit there – is one of the big stops on her Inside Story – Covent Garden Interiors Walk.] A reformed actress and occasional journalist, she was Independent Magazine’s Cultural Heritage Correspondent. Her gold standard walks are, needless to say, vivid and entertaining. So: “World’s greatest tour guide”, CBC star, Guide of the Year – no way she wasn’t going to front the flagship London Walks film!

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Katy, aka Bloodline, is our juv lead. She’s young, gifted and beautiful. Let alone to the manner born. And as for that voice of hers, it’s vintage, tawny port made audible. (The quality and clarity and timbre of a guide’s voice – it’s something that often gets overlooked when people are selecting a tour; it shouldn’t be. Boy, are we ever aware of it. There are guides out there – none of them are London Walks guides, I hasten to add – listening to them is like listening to a paint scraper in action. NO. THANK. YOU.) And if you want to see Katy in action, well, a click here takes you to the little video trailer film maker Jon Klein’s made of her Village in Piccdilly Walk.

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The distinguished Emeritus Museum of London archaeologist. "London Walks puts you into the hands of an expert on the particular area and topic of a tour" (New York Times). 

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Kim, who has worked in the House of Commons and the European Parliament, is another 24-carat Blue Badge Guide: she won the London Tourist Board’s Guide of the Year award in 2001.

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L

Lance Pierson is an actor and professional poetry performer who aims to bring words to life. His repertoire extends from John Cleese to William Cowper and Stanley Holloway to Shakespeare. He was told recently that he has one of the most beautiful voices in the world. Lance is not known to argue with his critics.

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Ah, yes, Laura. Laura who did a stretch in the Daily Mail Gossip columns. Laura, famous for collecting Victorian clothes and wearing them round her village. Laura, wicked (sl*) stepmother to five winks. Laura, mum to Ruby. Laura, actress, resting or not resting as the case may be. Laura, award-winning Blue Badge guide. Laura, passionate about bringing London’s history alive. Laura, time-traveller (back). Laura, beneath-the-surface delver. Laura, warm, engaging, fun, born to tell stories. Laura, bonhomous, big-hearted Laura. Vivacious Laura. *Does this really need saying? “Wicked literally means evil. In slang (sl.), [which is how it’s used here,] it means perfect or excellent.” Slang usage which first surfaced – a scallop to the Birth of Venus moment – to describe Laura.

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Action This Day! Get thee to Leo and let out a mighty roar of triumph when you find her. Why? Because you’ve just made your trip to London rainbow rainbow rainbow! better, that’s why. The “Little Lioness” was of course a Guide of the Year Award winner. How could she not have been? Tells every story with panache and a generous sprinkle of sunshine (answers to both “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Little Lion”). Musical theatre performer turned corporate hospitality maven (worked massive corporate events and festivals all over the world) turned top-flight professional Blue Badge Guide. Unashamed foodie, street art guru, and gallery and theatre enthusiast (you’d be mad not to pick her brains). Would spend her last £50 on a theatre ticket and a gelato from 3Bis in Borough Market. And if you were there, say “here, these are for you.”

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Liam is an Irish actor, writer, director and sometime curator of London’s gingerest beard. Beautiful voice, perfect timing, lots of fun and leading man looks. What’s not to like.

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M

‘Maitland’, yes that’s her first name, is Scottish, short and dyes her hair vivid colours – not surprising as she used to sing in a punk band. She also happens to be an award-winning Blue Badge Guide who has enjoyed London for more than 20 years. The arty side of town is her side of choice so if you find ‘London calling at the top of the dial’ come on down and walk for a while…

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Marc Zakian is a writer, photographer and history guide. His articles and photographs have appeared in The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, Conde Nast Traveller and many other publications. He’s a top flight London Blue Badge Guide and editor of The Guide magazine.

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Margaret, a former international journalist and editor, is a lecturer at the Victoria & Albert Museumand a top flight Blue Badge Guide (and the possessor of the lovliest Scots accent you’ll ever hear).

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Margarita is Russian, fetching and fascinated by the London that so profoundly shaped the Russia of her great-grandparents. Historian Robert Service excepted, she's the most qualified person on this good green earth of ours to guide a London 1902 – 1916Seedbed of the Russian Revolution walk. Extremely well-read in both countries' historical literature and tack sharp, she has an MSc in International Relations (it was her programme of studies that brought her to London over a decade ago). She's got the acclimated, settled-in, "gets it", well-established immigrant's invaluable "double perspective." Which is by way of saying, she knows and loves her adopted city very well and has the advantage of viewing it, appraising it – when appropriate – through the lens of her native "seedbeds" of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Anything else? Yes, she's completely bi-lingual: could effortlessly translate in the U.N. or at a summit. 

 

 

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 Languide charm. The quintessential Englishman. Perhaps because he’s half Spanish. Drove Australia. Didn’t crash once. 

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Mary (“Poppins”) is “practically perfect.” A classically trained dancer and an actress (West End credits include Gone With the Wind, a long stint at the Royal National Theatre and Noises Off), she’s also a trapeze artiste, a professionally qualified, award-winning Blue Badge and City of London Guide and the boss. She is one of those English roses upon whom it is unsafe to try any oompus-boompus. But let’s hear it from Mary – here she is talking a little bit about Mary, about being a dancer, growing up in “the Garden of England, about what she likes doing, etc. (She was interviewed for our Meet Your Guide series.)

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Crisp. Warm. Fun (good sense of humour, twinkle in her eye). Very bright. MA in History. Badged (professionally qualified City of London Guide). National Trust Volunteer. Platonic ideal of a History teacher. Passionate about exploring London’s past and present stories. Resourceful. Confident. Assured. Ticks all the boxes for what we at London Walks want in a guide. You’re in exceptionally good hands, ladies and gentlemen.

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Matt is a geologist at the Natural History Museum in London. He researches rocks that form when lava and magma cool above and beneath giant volcanoes, especially in the Andes (which he's just come back from).

 

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Polymath. Writes operas which get produced. Paints pictures which sell. Tells stories of his native London which amuse and inform. Art history, British social history, philosophy. Raconteur. 

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Michael, is the foremost authority on the Regent’s Canal, the author of a masterly book on the subject, and a Trustee of London’s Canal Museum.

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Molly guides at the British Museum and lectures on Art, Archaeology, and London History. An Art Historian, she is a Freeman of the City of London and a top flight professionally qualified Blue Badge and City of London Guide.

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Monisha Bharadwaj is an award winning author, food historian and a food writer based in London, UK. She was awarded ‘Cookery Writer of the Year’ in 2003 and some of her 17 books have been shortlisted for awards such as the Cordon Bleu World Food Media Awards, the Andre Simon Award and the Jacob’s Creek World Food Media Awards. Her books have sold nearly a million copies in 8 languages. A qualified chef from the Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition, Mumbai, she also has a degree in Indian History as well as a Diploma in Journalism. And that’s just for starters. She’s also a professional dancer and choreographer. Oh just click here.

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N

Nick, a swashbuckling National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, West End stage and silver screen actor (and Jack the Ripper on television!), is an authority on Indian cookery and a professionally qualified Greenwich Guide. When he’s not yachting across the Atlantic. And as Julie from Philadelphia would put it, “he’s a real mensch“. He’s the real deal, a seriously big talent – check out his clip reel. It’s here. Nick guides his Greenwich Walk. He’s the complete package – the modulation and range and timbre of his voice, the timing, the engagement with his audience, the mastery of his subject, the selection and ordering of detail, the humour. A textbook example of how it should be done, it’s a fusion of hard work and two all-important gifts: a first-rate mind and a great voice. Some corroboration anyone? How about this? “Dear Mr. Day, My wife Viva and I were guided by you on New Years day. We had a wonderful time. You are an exceptional guide…My wife had seen the episode of Foyle’s War shown on your web site but did not recognize you in person. She loved that episode and your portayal therein.Thank You again for THE BEST tour we have ever taken both for entertainment and education. We look foward to seeing you on film and in the theatre. Best Wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year”. Richard E. R. & Viva E. R., M.D. And here’s an encore. Nick wrote the Greenwich chapter in our book.

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O

Voice (and timing and presence) to die for. Londoner born and bred. Westminster Abbey chorister. West End musical theatre actor. Ergo the song bursts. Anything else (apart from the new baby)? For sure: we’re dialling up quick blasts on his trumpet! But no need to take my word for it. Judge for yourself. Listen to this. Just 38 seconds, it’s a guiding tour de force. It’s Oliver opening his Jack the Ripper walk.

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P

Pepe is our east London street art expert. He’s a collector. He’s tack-sharp, savvy and connected. Anything else? Yes, he’s an award-winning* Blue Badge Guide. *A big one – the guiding equivalent of baseball’s Triple Crown!

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Peter G. Now about Peter G. – here’s the gen. Like those other great Londoners Shakespeare, Dr. Johnson and Dickens, Peter does not hail from the metropolis. Yes, that northerner friendliness is to the manor born – cuz Peter’s a Nelson, Lancashire lad! Well, was. He’s all Londoner now, having coom doon a good few years ago to study at the Drama Centre. After an intermittently average acting career he has fallen literally on his feet with "the wonderful London Walks" (his phrase, but everybody, the smellfeasts excepted of course, would agree with him). Guiding the public through the streets of London combines his three great loves: architecture, history and showing off.

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Londoner born and bred. National Scrabble Champion four times (see his entry in the Guinness Book of Records) – ergo never at a loss for words. Professionally qualified Islington and Clerkenwell Guide. (The professional guiding qualification for Westminster is in the pipeline.) Guides at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, Lords Cricket Ground and St. John’s Gate Museum in Clerkenwell. Made his debut with London Walks with his Highbury – Grand Houses & Grander Stadiums walk. And here’s the Meet Your Guide interview David did with Philip for the London Walks podcast.

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R

Ms. Efferfescence.  AKA Ms. Irresistible. “…the perfect blend – a font of knowledge, a diplomat and a comedian!!” That’s how one of Rachel’s walkers described her.* Echoing another walker, who said: “This morning I had the great pleasure of being on Rachel’s Old Jewish Quarter walk. Her energy and enthusiasm were contagious. Her knowledge and joy in sharing it with us made the two hours very special. She is the perfect guide.”* Some of the foundations for that skill set – award-winning Blue Badge Guide, high seas Lecturer, author of Jewish London and Whitechapel in 50 Buildings. *In short, you don’t need to take it from us.

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Rex is an English gentleman.

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Richard – the man with the honeyed voice and the distinctive red hat – has three careers. He’s an actor, a professionally qualified Blue Badge Guide, and he restores old houses. Urbane, witty, and charming – he’s the perfect host. He brings authority, panache, and an insider’s savvy to his walks. And if you like our Day Trips from London, you owe Richard a debt of thanks, because he’s the one who’s masterminded that wonderful strand of our programme. If you’d like to hear that honeyed voice in action simply join him on his Cotswolds or Stonehenge & Salisbury Day Trip.

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Richard III is the only London Walks guide who – like the Romantic poet Lord Byron – had a club foot, was a torturer, addressed the United Nations, was on the cover of Newsweek and was outed as recommending kidnapping cats. For good measure he’s the scion of a Lord Mayor of London, a stand-up comic, and a writer, actor and director. And he’s got an alter ego – a member of the Dickens Pickwick Club, he’s Mr. Jingle. But why not hear it from him – here he is on our Meet Your Guide show.

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Richard IV is an actor, swordsman and an expert on early detective fiction. His velvety voice and perfect timing make for some awfully handsome listening on his Sherlock Holmes walk! No surprise to learn that he’s narrated numerous documentaries and audiobooks.

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“the Pied Piper of Beatlemania”, is the author of The Beatles’ London, a consultant on the Hard Day’s Night DVD and holder of the Beatles Brain of Britain title. So much for the understatement. As actor David Jansen* put it, “[Richard] is a Beatles genius.” Now as for Richard’s “connections,” he knows them all – all the “players” from the Beatles saga. One could go on. I’m thinking of his collection of Beatles gear. But really, the thing is to “go on” the walk. Click here for Richard’s Meet Your Guide Interview. *David Jansen was the child actor who appeared in A Hard Day’s Night.

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has a “past”. He’s sailed across the Pacific in a two-man boat. He’s explored the Himalayas. He’s an author. He’s carved out a successful acting career.* He’s True Grit. True North. True to the compass of his beyond perfect surname (ask him). Let alone the spun gold of his nickname: Kontiki. He’s a brilliant guide. *You’ll have seen him in any number of “London” programmes, from London’s Burning to The Bill, etc. And you can hear Richard here – it’s a Podcast he did for us about where he’s from and where he’s coming from.

 

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Rick Jones is a Blue Badge Guide (and pianist and freelance writer) who for most of his working life was a journalist. As such he was for ten years chief music critic for the Evening Standard and he remains Secretary of the Critics Circle (founded 1913). He developed a form of costume journalism in which he reconstructed journeys, mostly walks, by famous individuals in costume. As JS Bach he walked across Germany, as Felix Mendelssohn he hiked across the Highlands of Scotland, as Edward Elgar he cycled across the Malvern Hills and as Shakespeare’s clown Will Kemp he danced across East Anglia. It was these experiences which gave him a taste for walking tours and the tales to be told from them. Meet Rick – here he is talking about his Medical London tours.
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Robert is allowed to drive sheep across London Bridge. An Oxford graduate and the Founding Director of the Brunel Museum, he’s an actor, author and holder of the Freedom. Let alone the first person since Brunel to organise an underwater fair. Want to meet him? Here’s a Meet Your Guide Interview.

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A tip of the top hat to Roger, the Captain, the man on the bridge of the Good Ship Canal Walks. Best sort of colleague and guide – clears the head and pleases the soul. Unruffled, unflappable, always comes through, fabulously well-informed about everything waterways. And, yes, award-winning. A waterways enthusiast for many years, Roger has cruised along much of the national network of canals and rivers. He has canoed in various parts of the country, including around London. (Canoeing around London – how cool is that, how many people have got that feather in their cap?) Anything else? Yes, he worked on canal restoration projects over a period of thirty years. A retired engineer with a strong interest in cultural heritage, he researches all sorts of aspects of London and London’s Canal network. He is a life member of the Inland Waterways Association.

 

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Dapper London chap, novice beekeeper, champion Charleston dancer, star Blue Badge Guide. But you don’t need to just take it from me, you can sample Russell, hear him in action. Here’s a short podcast he did about his Old London walk. And a further instalment of Meet Your Guide action – here’s Russell talking about 2,000 Years of Entertaining London.


Photo by Matt Christie
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Ruth is a geologist at University College London. She researches geological materials used in art, architecture and archaeology. She is interested in the natural history of cities and this includes the fossils and crystals that we walk past every day. Ruth has appeared on the BBC World Service programme Science Now and regularly writes and blogs on building stones. 

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Is a professionally qualified City of London guide. She has worked as an actress for the National Theatre and in the West End and her dulcet tones are often heard reading for the BBC on radio and audio.

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S

Shaughan is a distinguished – and stylish – actor (his stage roles range from Frank-n-Furter in The Rocky Horror Show to Sherlock Holmes; his many television credits include Poirot and Miss Marple). A professionally qualified Blue Badge and City of London Guide and the possessor of a fine baritone voice, he usually spices his walks with a song or two. You can hear him on his Little Venice walk.

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Simon is James Bond material. He’s tall, dark, and easier on the eyes than Pierce Brosnan. Let alone brainier. This is an actor who’s tri-lingual, who’s lived in Asia and South America, and, for good measure, is a top flight professionally qualified London Blue Badge, Southeast England and Cambridge Guide. And he’s also a very nice guy. And as a guide – well, they don’t come any better. And believe me, it’s not just us saying that!

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is a gifted young actor.

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Simon B. is a young(ish) actor regularly spotted on stage and screen. Blessed with great height, a strong voice and a quick wit, he’s easy to follow in every sense.

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Simon W. comes trailing clouds of guiding glory. An award-winning Blue Badge Guide, he has guided for the Royal Opera House, Shakespeare’s Globe, the BBC, and for London Walks. When he’s not acting. And for a parting shot, here’s a taster. It’s a Podcast of Simon’s Covent Garden walk.

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Stephanie, a splendidly droll ex-Elephant Keeper, was in Shakespeare in Love! She’s a professionally qualified Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, City of London, and Blue Badge Guide.

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Fiercely intelligent, terrifyingly talented, distinguished actor. Royal Shakespeare Company, West End shows, lots of films, Sir Peter Hall’s Shakespeare productions, etc. Best ear ever. His impersonation of John Lennon is a resurrection. Doesn’t just guide Shakespeare, performs him.

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Dr Stephen K, a qualified Westminster guide, with years of tour experience under his belt and many pleased guests. PhD in mud followed by decades on the inside of London’s government, able to recite some detail about all 32 London boroughs (plus the City). Always happiest telling an anecdote about a hidden backstreet or historic bollard.

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Short read: Paragon of guides.

Medium read: Steve can’t remember a time when he was not obsessed with travel, other cultures and languages. He lived in Paris as a student, taught English at a university in Poland before the Berlin Wall came tumblin’ down (and has the secret police file to prove it) and worked as a journalist for a dozen years in Hong Kong (where he also ran Asia’s first travel bookshop). He then moved to Budapest for three years to tackle yet another impenetrable language (he speaks a few) before settling in London. Today Steve wears two hats: one as a London Blue Badge Tourist Guide and the other as a writer for Lonely Planet, for whom he has written or contributed to more than 100 different guidebooks, including its London guide. Who could possibly know their city better than a guide who writes guidebooks? And as a dual US-Ireland national, he remains as curious (and often astonished) about his adopted home as he is knowledgeable. As Disraeli wrote in Lothair, one of his many novels: `London; a nation, not a city.’ Steve will introduce you to and take you to places in this great `nation’ that even Londoners don’t know about. More? Ask and thou shalt receive. Here’s our Meet Your Guide interview with Steve.

Long read: Everyone loves a good tale. But you need a few facts and a lot of authority to go along with it. Steve is that rare breed of guide who entertains with anecdotes and stories and fun facts galore as he walks you through layers of history in pockets of the city you didn’t know existed.

Why is he so special? Steve has authored over 100 guidebooks for Lonely Planet – from Turkey and Panama to Paris and London – owned a travel bookshop in Hong Kong where he lived for a dozen years and is qualified as a London Blue Badge Tourist Guide. That’s why clients say things like: `I have met many London guides and Steve was in the top league. He avoided being boring, which is essential criteria. And another essential criterion is that he made us think – which does not always happen.’

Steve is just as comfortable whisking you through the back lanes of East London as he is about explaining Roman brickmaking or the public art on display at Canary Wharf. Don’t know about the boxing great Daniel `Danny the Jew’ Mendoza who fought his way to fame some 200 years ago just a century after his people were allowed to resettle in England? Or how many books and manuscripts and sound recordings are held at the British Library? Want to know who was the last person buried at Westminster Abbey? Need recommendations for the best-ever fish and chips, authentic Thai food or Soho’s finest wine bar? Hang out with Steve. 

Don’t believe us? Here are just a few of the glowing reviews attendees of Steve’s tours have written.

`If it were possible to give Steve six or more stars, we would do so.’

`I can’t stress enough how a professional and knowledgeable guide like Steve can enhance a walking tour experience. By the end of the tour the benefit of Steve’s presence was undeniable. I felt like my own story had gained a new chapter.’

`Steve guides you with a clear, enthusiastic voice, high-energy intellect, encyclopaedic memory of facts and history, all delivered at the perfect time with the passing geography and sights and with a great sense of humour.’

`I have lived in London for many years and enjoy walking through the streets, but Steve introduced me to the history of many buildings that I had previously just passed.’

Upcoming schedule walking tours with London Walks include:

The Unknown East End: A Walk through London’s Most Vibrant District

Immigration & Food: A Walk around Spitalfields

Hackney from on High: A Walk through Hipster Central

London’s Jewish East End: A Walk through Its Heart & Soul

Wapping Tales: A Walk in ‘Pirate Central’

Art in Canary Wharf: The Pretty Face of London’s ‘Other’ Financial Centre

An American in London: A Cast of Characters from across the Pond

 

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Former Editor and CEO of Indepent Television News and now spy biographer, Stewart Purvis CBE has created and guides The Hampstead Spies walk. Stewart’s the author of Guy Burgess, The Spy Who Knew Everyone.

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Sue is a Freeman of the City of London, a botanist and a water-colourist. She’s an expert on the Fleet River and a professionally qualified Blue Badge and City of London Guide. She wrote the Life in the Mediaeval City chapter in our book. She guides many London Walks, ranging from Kew Gardens to the Fleet River to Bizarre London (her tour de force) and points beyond. But no need to just take it from me. Why not lend Sue an ear? Here’s a delightful little podcast she did about her Bizarre London walk.

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T

Tim killed Simon Callow in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Wrote and performed the theme tune to the children's television programme Rainbow. Actor, blues musician, Oxford graduate (Cultural Anthropology) and the man with 40 hats. 

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Tim worked at the Bank of England for over 30 years and can tell you exactly which streets in the City are paved with gold. He also spent over 30 years researching City pubs and his knowledge can be tapped, once the walk is over. Oh and a mere bagatelle – he's also a top-flight Blue Badge Guide. 

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Tom is a barrister, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Examiner for the Blue Badge Guides Course, travel writer and another creme de la creme professionally qualified Blue Badge Guide (he’s the Chairman of the Guild of Guides Association). Follically challenged but motorcycling virile, his graceful wit, classic elegance of mind, infectious giggle, and gentle and generous heart make him the delight of all who know him. Want more? Ask and thou shalt receive: Meet Your Guide Interview – Tom the Barrister Biker

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U

Trilingual (English, German, Italian), double-badged (City of London and Westminster) and singularly gifted guide. Meet Ulrike. Click here to hear her short talk about her Seven Deadly Sins walk.

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