Short read: Tracing the footsteps of C.J Sansom’s dogged, melancholy ‘hero’ Matthew Shardlake and his ‘side kick’ Barak through the streets of Tudor London from Staple Inn in Holborn to Bucklesbury.
Longer read: Tombstone, the long-awaited seventh book in C. J. Sansom’s Shardlake series, is now out. Comes the book comes the London walk. The series is tailor-made for a London Walk. The Inns of Court on the page? Here it is in the flesh. We pair those descriptive passages of great power with the genuine article. Starting with Staple Inn, a beautifully restored Tudor façade a stone’s throw from Shardlake’s fictional home in Chancery Lane. Across the road: the “high square towers of the Great Gate”. which lead to Gatehouse Yard and Shardlake’s Chambers. The red brick Gatehouse from 1518 still stands and barristers still “stride purposefully about the precincts” of Lincolns Inn. And hey presto we’re transported to the dark heart of Tudor London, for this is where Shardlake’s good friend Roger Elliard is found murdered in Revelation. Walking just behind Shardlake and Barak now, we move through the medieval city, through streets and alleyways so wonderfully and memorably evoked you can almost taste Tudor London. Ludgate Hill: where Tabitha the talking Parrot resides in Dissolution. Wood Street: where a cart has overturned bearing tiles from the demolition of St Bart’s. Medieval Guildhall: where Shardlake petitions a case on behalf of the City Council in Dark Fire. We pin down the location of Barak’s home at the Old Barge in Bucklebury and Guy of Malton’s apothecary’s shop near Budge Row. The Shambles, Bladder Street, The Pope’s Head Tavern, Grey Friars, the ‘Hole’ at Newgate Prison: we rediscover those “lost” streets and nodal points of Shardlake’s world. Yes, not forgetting Stationers Hall: possessor of the power to seize “offending books” that violated the standards of content set down by the Church and State so vividly portrayed in Lamentation. We tour the Priory Church of St Bartholomew as portrayed in Dark Fire and visit the site of Anne Askew’s execution, so vividly and horribly portrayed in Lamentation. There’s Queen Catherine Parr’s house in Charterhouse; there’s Bedlam, the hospital for the Insane; there’s – well, come and see. Phew! Après walk – anyone for a stiff drink? Thought so. Let’s pop into a tavern favoured by Barak himself. I’m sure we can find one. Epilogue: if this walk doesn’t set you up for reading Tombstone, nothing will.
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF MATTHEW SHARDLAKE – THE PRACTICALS
In the Footsteps of `Matthew Shardlake takes place at 10.45 am on the following Sundays: December 15, January 19 and March 15.
The meeting point is just outside exit 3 of Chancery LaneTube.
LONDON WALKS REVIEWS
“award-winning London Walks are unrivalled for quality and range” American in Britain Magazine
“the best London has to offer” Culture Trip
“by far the most impressive series of walks that I have ever encountered are those offered by London Walks” Travel and Enjoy
LONDON WALKS PRIVATE WALKS
If you can’t make the regularly scheduled, just-turn-up, public In the Footsteps of Matthew Shardlake walk do think about booking one as a private tour. If you go private you can have In the Footsteps of Matthew Shardlake – or any other London Walk – on a day and at a time that suits your convenience. We’ll tailor it to your requirements. Ring Fiona or Noel or Mary on 020 7624 3978 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
GIVE THE GIFT OF LONDON WALKS
A private London Walk makes a very special, thoughtful and unusual gift. Be it a birthday or anniversary or graduation or Christmas present or whatever. Merchandise schmerchandise (gift wrapped or not) – but giving someone an experience, now that’s special. Memories make us rich.