Matthew Shardlake’s Tudor London

(28 customer reviews)

Temple Tube

Guided by Andy

Walk Times

Day Walk Type Start Time End Time
13 March 2024 Special 2 pm 4 pm Winter
10 April 2024 Special 2 pm 4 pm Winter
8 May 2024 Special 2 pm 4 pm Summer Reserve Online
5 June 2024 Special 2 pm 4 pm Summer Reserve Online
4 September 2024 Special 2 pm 4 pm Summer Reserve Online

Unlocking Tudor London

Short Read: Tracing the footsteps of C.J Sansom’s dogged, melancholy ‘hero’ Matthew Shardlake and his ‘sidekick’ Barak through the streets of Tudor London.

N.B., this walk is the trailblazer walk. Matthew Shardlake’s Tudor London, Part One. We now have a second, completely different Shardlake’s Walk.  The new walk – the Part Two Shardlake’s London walk is called Tudor London – Walking with Matthew Shardlake (and Barak) Yes, that’s a link. It takes you to the new walk.


Long Read: Fan of Tudor London? Look no further, ‘The sights, the voices, the very smell of this
turbulent age’ are raised from the page into the genuine article. You will be surprised how much of
Tudor London still survives. We follow in the footsteps of Matthew Shardlake as he solves another mystery and embarks upon another dangerous commission, like a ‘Tudor Rebus’ cutting through ‘the religious and political chaos of the 1540s with sinister élan’. 

There is so much of Shardlake’s London and so many exciting characters real and fictional to cover that we now have two separate walks.  Much of the early modern City of London which lay within the old Roman walls and gates has disappeared, but the street plan hasn’t completely changed and many of the names still exist. Some of the buildings can still be observed today including the priory church of St Bartholomew’s, Charterhouse and parts of Lincolns Inn. Many others, such as Staples Inn and Middle Temple Hall were built within the later part of 16th Century. And of course many of the churches and buildings such as St Paul’s Cathedral having been burnt down in the Great Fire of London were also quickly reconstructed on the same site in the 17th Century.

Using new archaeological and historical research experts have brilliantly reconstructed the City as it
would have been in the sixteenth century, so we now have a good idea of the landscape of the City
in this period. It is this insight and expertise that we will use on these two accompanying walks to
bring Shardlake’s London alive.*

Part One, The Inns of Court, Shardlake’s Chambers and Smithfield

Things you will see include:

Middle Temple

Inner Temple and Temple Church

Chancery Lane/ Shardlake’s house

Lincolns Inn/Shardlake’s chambers at Gatehouse Court

Staple Inn 

Ely Place and St Etheldreda’s 

Site of Fleet River 

Smithfield 

Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great 

Charterhouse 

Longer Read: Shardlake and Barak would often ‘catch a wherry ’at Temple Stairs to take them upstream to Westminster, downstream to Deptford or across to Southwark. The Inns of Court go back centuries and they still feel like a tranquil oasis off Fleet Street. As Charles Dickens put it, ‘Who enters here leaves noise behind.’

Middle Temple is the alma mater of the evil Richard Rich; member of the Privy Council, Chancellor of the Court of Augmentations and principle enemy of Shardlake. The heart of the Inn is the beautiful Middle Temple Hall, a sixteenth century dining hall where the first production of Twelfth Night was performed.

 Shardlake’s home is situated on Chancery Lane, described as a ‘fine stone property’ with ‘trellised garden paths shaded by climbing roses’ churned to mud by torrential rain in ‘Sovereign’. Shardlake has built up a’a thriving legal practice’ and his chambers which he shares with Godfrey Wheelwright and his clerk John Skelly can be found by passing ‘under the high square towers of the Great Gate’ of Lincolns Inn and into Gatehouse Court.

It is here in Gatehouse Court that Matthew’s friend is discovered, his throat cut, the icy water of the fountain turned to blood, murdered by a serial killer obsessed with prophesies from ‘The Book of Revelations’. The Old Hall was founded in the 15th Century but has been altered many times since, though parts of ‘Old Buildings’ date back to 1525. There is an ancient winding staircase in the corner of the courtyard where you can imagine the Scrooge-like barrister Stephen Bealknap had his residence.

The Chapel next door has a 17th-century open fan-vaulted crypt where Samuel Pepys once played; still today barristers ‘stride purposefully about the precincts’ with ‘the space of Lincolns Inn Fields beyond’.

Staple Inn with its wafer-thin Elizabethan half-timber façade was a satellite to Grey’s Inn, its members included amongst others who feature in the series Thomas Cromwell, Stephen Gardener, Robert Aske and William Cecil. We then turn down that impossible-to-find ancient alleyway, to an Inn, a pub, said to date back to 1546, the type of pub that bad boy turned family man Jack Barak could rarely resist. It is said to have been the servant’s quarters of the Bishop of Ely’s Palace. The Chapel of the Palace still survives, built between 1250-1290, we get to go inside; the upper church is dedicated to Tudor martyrs while the 13th Century crypt was the scene of a five-day feast attended by Henry VIII and his wife Catherine of Aragon. The Palace; the setting for John of Gaunt’s famous speech in Richard II, ‘this royal throne of kings, this scepter’d isle’. 

We end at THE end for Anne Askew, burnt alive in Smithfield by The Priory Church of St Bartholomew’s so vividly and horribly portrayed in Lamentation

*my favourite source is Map of Tudor London, The City and Southwark in 1520 (second edition), published by The Historic Towns Trust, by Giles Dark, edited by Caroline Barron and Vanessa Harding, Sept 2022.

—————————————————————————–

Anyone for a stiff drink? Thought so. I have a recommendation Barak himself would enjoy.

 MATTHEW SHARDLAKE’S TUDOR LONDON – THE WALKS

THE PRACTICALS

Matthew Shardlake’s Tudor London, Part I  meets at 2 pm just outside Temple  Tube Station. Matthew Shardlake’s London, Part I takes place on the following Wednesdays: March 13, April 10, May 8 and June 5. The Matthew Shardlake, Tudor London Quest I ends near Barbican Tube  Station.

Tudor London – Walking with Matthew Shardlake, Part II takes place on the following Wednesdays: April 24, May 22, June 19 and Sunday June 23. 

Tudor London – Walking with Matthew Shardlake, Part II meets at 10:45 am by the Petit Pret at Blackfriars  Tube Station. The Matthew Shardlake, Tudor London Quest II ends near Monument Tube  Station.

The two Matthew Shardlake’s Tudor London Walks – Part I and Part II – are the Castor and Pollux of our Literary London programme of perambulations. A ‘double hit’ was always on the cards because Matthew Shardlake’s London is a teeming, cup overfloweth affair. And who else but Andy, whose academic specialty (MA, University of London) was Tudor London, would it fall to to track down – “every contact leaves a trace” – Shardlake’s Tudor London in the streets of 21st century London?  Track down, create, and guide.

IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THE GUIDING

Don’t just take it from us…

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 Matthew Shardlake’s Tudor London walk do think about booking one as a private tour. If you go private you can have Matthew Shardlake’s Tudor London or its alter ego Tudor London – Walking with Matthew Shardlake (and Barak) – 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 Peter or Niamh or Mary on 020 7624 3978 or email us at [email protected] 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.

MIND THE GAP

It’s not even close

PODCAST LISTEN

Shardlake’s London with a bonus – Andy got a bunch of his London Walkers to give their favourite London book recommendation.

28 reviews for Matthew Shardlake’s Tudor London

  1. Catherine

    I thoroughly enjoyed the Matthew Shardlake walk led by Andy on 13 March 2024. It was so interesting and was really exciting to explore all the areas that are relevant and important in the books. I had read three of the books and my friend who knew had no knowledge at all accompanied me for the walk and we both had a great time. The walk can be enjoyed by anyone because it was both broad and specific for Shardlake fans and it was entertaining and Andy has a great knowledge of Tudor London. I will definitely be attending the Part 2 walk soon.

  2. Paul

    Andy has created a very interesting walk, combining extensive references to situations and places from the Shardlake books with a broader perspective of Tudor London. I look forward to attending his Part 2 tour.

  3. Christoph Karner

    I took part in the tour back in December.
    As I’m now making my London Walk plans for March, when I’ll be back in London,
    I remembered how fantastic this tour was.
    It really left a lasting impression how Andy covered an enormous amount of interesting stuff incredibly quickly and interesting, often just giving little hints for those who already know a lot about London, the London walk regulars so to speak.
    The idea of using the book series as a basis is also great.
    I certainly won’t miss a 2nd part of the tour.

  4. Victoria Wynn

    This time over, it turned out that I walked with Andy 3 times, and each one was a gem. I enjoyed the Shardlake walk immensely, and look forward to Part II in the near future. Andy’s historical knowledge of the period added so much to the walk, and he brought the characters to life to the point where I expected Shardlake or Barak to be just around the corner. Thank you, Andy!

  5. Kay

    We had a really enjoyable and educational walk today. Thanks Andy! We discovered corners of London that we didn’t know and look forward to a possible Part 2 to find out more…

  6. Joel

    An excellent way to spend an afternoon if you have any interest in the Shardlake novels or Tudor England. Andy is an enthusiastic and very knowledgable guide and imparts enormous amounts of information.

  7. Penny

    A wonderful afternoon in Tudor London yesterday. Andy wove a fine story about Matthew’s experiences and we stood where he would have stood with Andy giving us the historical context all along the way. Visits to the churches and byways we had never before seen. If a ‘part 2’ is offered we will be keen to see more Shardlake London guided by Andy.

  8. Joanna

    Fab afternoon walk. The rain didn’t stop us enjoying the history of our surroundings and Andy bringing to life the Shardlake books. If you love the books, this walk is for you.

  9. Artyom Jelnov

    Very interesting tour. Even those who are not Shardlake’s fan (I am) may find interesting to see medieval places in London.

  10. Tom Keller

    A superb walk for anybody interested in Shardlake or indeed Tudor London in general. I had only read one Shardlake book but I now feel stimulated to read some more! I asked Andy the tour leader how long he’d been doing these walks and he said 20 years – it showed! He’s the consummate professional with countless fascinating stories, historical or just plain funny, along the way. I’m a Londoner and I was taken to so many places I never knew even existed. Brilliant!

Add A Review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *