The great seminal London Walk. Miss it and you’ve missed London.
For Old Westminster is London at its grandest: the place where kings and queens are crowned, where they lived, and often were buried. It’s the forge of the national destiny, the beating heart of the Empire, the Mecca of politicians throughout the ages. The past here is cast in stone and we take it all in: ancient Westminster Hall, the Houses of Parliament, the Jewel Tower, and Westminster Abbey. And to see it with a great guide is to have that past suddenly rise to the surface, like seeing a photographic print come up in a darkroom.
And embarrass de richesse we’ll also explore the private face of Westminster. Unlike the tourist hordes we get to see the hidden and ever so picturesque 18th-century backstreets where all the political salons are. Totally off the beaten track, it’s the London equivalent of Georgetown. And then some. Because not only do we take in, for example, the house where the anti-appeasement movement got started – by way of a grace note you’ll also see a house where Marilyn Monroe spent the night! In short, welcome to one of those secret neighbourhoods that London excels in. And for that matter, there’s no better time to discover “Old Westminster” because the swarms of tourists are long gone. In short, we’ll have it to ourselves and so be able to see it properly. It just doesn’t get any better than this. But how could it, considering that we’ll also nip over the bridge to take in the most famous night-time view in Europe: the view across the river to the Houses of Parliament. All towers and spikes and serried windows and bathed in golden light. And Big Ben like a sentinel, booming out the hour. And garlands of Victorian lamps along the Embankment. And dark patches that suggest the old and mighty consequence of the place, well, you get the idea. Garnish with some fascinating nooks and crannies, a secret mediaeval palace and maybe a quick pit stop at a traditional old pub frequented by Members of Parliament – it’s an astonishingly rich walk, a great walk. One that’ll glow in the cockles of your memory for a long, long time. And how’s this for a bonus: when Parliament is in session late night sittings are the norm on Monday nights – in short, on most Monday nights after the walk you’ll be able to go inside Parliament and watch the House of Commons (or if you prefer, the House of Lords) in action. And what’s more, you won’t have to queue to get in! Guided by Liam.
OLD WESTMINSTER BY GASLIGHT – THE PRACTICALS
Old Westminster by Gaslight takes place every* Monday at 7 pm. Meet Liam just outside exit 4 of WestminsterTube Stop. N.B. the walk ends at WestminsterTube. *Except Dec. 16 and Dec. 23
LONDON WALKS VIDEOS
We haven’t made a video of the Westminster by Gaslight Walk. But our Old Westminster Walk – for which there is a video* – covers some of the same ground. A click here magic carpets you there. And Liam is the guide who features in the video of our Old Palace Quarter Walk. So if you’d like to see him doing his stuff, click here. *Indeed, it’s our flagship video.