Shakespeare’s and Dickens’ Old City

(34 customer reviews)

St. Paul's underground station, London (exit 2)

Guided by Andy or Corinna or David or Stephen

Walk Times

Day Walk Type Start Time End Time
Sunday Weekly 2.45 pm 4.45 pm Winter Summer Reserve Online
Tuesday Weekly 11 am 1 pm Winter Summer Reserve Online

Medium read: A walk, a performance, a Master Class in speaking Shakespeare’s lines

Riveting performance: Here’s Royal Shakespeare Company actor (and London Walks guide) Steve’s podcast – he’s treating his walkers to a reading from the opening chapter of Great Expectations. Bears repeating, this is guiding that’s also a performance.

Good Listen: Here’s Guide Andy’s podcast of the interview he did with the Keeper of the Flame, the guardian of the finest Shakespeare’s First Folio in existence.

And Another Listen: Here’s David’s podcast about the “interface” between Shakespeare and London. Into the bargain it shows you how to “read” a London street. Two streets, actually.

One more: David’s podcast on Dickens & London

IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THE GUIDING

Don’t just take it from us…

Long read: London was to Shakespeare and Dickens what Paris was to Balzac. It held them in its thrall, was both their canvas and their inspiration, their workshop and their raw material. They, in turn, made it their own, imaginatively colonising it. And, like “special correspondents for posterity”, bequeathed it to us. Today, despite the ravages of time, riot, bombing, and especially fire, traces of their London – shipwrecks from the past – still abound in the City. Everything from superb half-timbered Elizabethan dwellings to the magnificent early 16th-century gatehouse where Shakespeare went with his plays to the offices of the Elizabethan Master of the Revels. And from London’s grandest Tudor manor house to crooked little alleys which fed the fires of Dickens’s “hallucinating genius”. Guided by RSC actor Steve or David (“none better”, The Observer) on Sunday; and by Andy or Corinna  on Tuesday. 

SHAKESPEARE’S & DICKENS’ LONDON – THE PRACTICALS

The meeting point is just outside exit 2 of St. Paul’s Tube.

The Sunday afternoon walk is guided by David (known to fellow members of the by-invitation-only Dickens Pickwick Club as the Pickwick Papers character, “Count Smorltork, the famous foreigner”) or distinguished Shakespearean actor (RSC, Sir Peter Hall’s Shakespeare productions, etc.) Steve. The Tuesday morning walk is guided by actor Andy or Corinna. N.B. the walk takes about two hours and ends at Smithfield, a short walk from St. Paul’s Tube. But where we end is also very near Barbican Tube and Farringdon Station, so if either of those is more convenient for you we’ll get you sorted.

LONDON WALKS REVIEWS

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

This walk has attracted a great deal of press coverage. The Times, The Observer, The Guardian have all sung its praises. And the Mail has just declared David’s Dickens Walk “one of the ten best tours in Britain” (the Mail noted in passing that David’s standing in matters Dickensian took him to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen).

“Looking to entertain some relatives recently, I opted to drag them on a tour of Shakespeare’s and Dickens’s London by the London Walks company, …it was certainly a cheap way of spending two hours. But I didn’t have high hopes. Surely it would be one of those soul-destroying affairs in which you wander, slack-jawed, between overcrowded, underwhelming tourist hell holes accompanied by a monotonal commentary? When we met at the appointed hour at St. Paul’s tube station and bought our tickets, I was even more perturbed to find that we had been saddled with an American guide. What could a Yank possibly tell me about the city I have lived in all my life?

“Well loads, as it happens. David, it turned out, was a literary historian, university lecturer, journalist and ‘lifelong thanatophobe’ (look it up), who has forgotten more about the Big Smoke’s history than 99 percent of those who consider themselves genuine Londoners will ever learn.

“We listened, rapt, as he led us through corners of Clerkenwell and Aldersgate I had never seen, despite working in the area for almost a decade. He sonorously reeled off lines from Hamlet, pointed out the shrapnel scars in the wall of St Barts hospital and reminded us that Smithfield meat market was where men once came to sell their wives as well as their mutton. Not only that but he knows at least ten [59 actually] other routes around the capital off by heart, including the legendary Along the Thames Pub Walk. What a guy. And he’s not alone: among his colleagues are a Tony-nominated actor and world experts on Jack the Ripper, Oscar Wilde and riverside beach-combing. So bite the bullet, pick a walk and pitch up. You’ll be dining out on the anecdotes you learn for many moons to come.”  Ed Potton, The Times

“When they do it well, there are none better. I was once given a walking tour of ‘Shakespeare and Dickens’s London’ by a man from Wisconsin who could point to more Tudor houses in the City than most Londoners see in a lifetime.”  David Smith, The Observer 

Here’s the distinguished author and critic John Sutherland’s piece in the Guardian.

“One of the liveliest PhD students I ever supervised, an American named David Tucker, with a broad streak of Barnum in his Wisconsin makeup, decided, having completed his dissertation on Dickens, against an academic career. The best way he could serve his beloved author, Tucker resolved, was by conducting street-by-street tours around the sizeable fragments of Dickens’s London that have survived the wrecking ball. He’s made a good living out of it, and done some good practical education in the process.

“Tucker’s “Original Dickens Walks” do not shirk the filthy chimneys where apprentice sweeps like Oliver Twist would – after a year or two’s clambering – contract cancer of the scrotum. Nor Newgate, where Fagin swung, tongue and penis protruding in the rictus of death, for the delectation of many of the same people who enjoyed a Dickens novel. Nor the Thames, where the Hexams fished out suicide corpses for whatever money and jewellery they took with them in their drop off the bridge. Nor Hungerford Stairs on the South Bank, which Dickens, remembering his boyhood suffering as a child labourer in Warren’s Blacking Factory, would, for the whole of his subsequent life, make long, shuddering, detours to avoid. Dickens did not always like Dickens’s world.”

And here are the most recent ones from walkers:

“Every time my wife and I come to London we make sure we take advantage of London Walk tours. This time we chose a Dickens and Shakespeare themed walk. Our guide was a Royal Shakespeare Company actor. He took us on a fascinating journey to actual places described in these authors’ books, and through areas of London where Shakespeare lived and Dickens worked. At various points along the way he would recite, often from memory, passages from various books and plays. Standing in the courtyard of Guildhall and listening to his voice fill that vast space was truly magical… We saw where the Scottish hero William Wallace was executed, where Dickens’ character Oliver Twist would have passed on his way to a robbery, where we could touch the scars left in the walls of St Bart’s hospital by bombs dropped from a Zeppelin in WWI, all while listening to our guide recite from King Lear. If that isn’t fascinating, I don’t know what is!”  Jim W., Silver Spring, Maryland

“Stephen is a wonderful guide, interesting and informative on matters of history and literature. Never thought I would see 30 people of various nationalities sit enraptured on benches, steps and walls for over three hours. A wonderful afternoon stopping off at intriguing places listening to a voice to remember.” Magtrav Midlands

“We recently participated in the London Walks’ “Shakespeare and Dickens’ London” Tour and it was fantastic. Steve, our guide, was very entertaining and knowledgeable. We saw areas of London we would never have found on our own, and my husband said he learned more and Shakespeare and Dickens on the tour than he ever did in college! Fun, insightful, and a great bargain.” MeandMissP

“Steven was a fantastic guide for the Shakespeare and Dickens walk. We learned a lot about both authors and about London as well. Highly recommended.”  packedandready2go

“I’ve been going on London Walks for 20 years. I love London Walks. This is the best one I’ve ever been on.” the lady from Loughton 26 November 2017

LONDON WALKS PRIVATE WALKS

If you can’t make one of the regularly scheduled, just-turn-up, public Shakespeare’s & Dickens’ London walks do think about booking one as a private tour. If you go private you can have the Shakespeare’s & Dickens’ London outing – 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 Peter 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 delightful, 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.

IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THE GUIDING

“If this were a golf tournament all the names on the Leader Board would be London Walks guides”

MIND THE GAP

It’s not even close

34 reviews for Shakespeare’s and Dickens’ Old City

  1. Jim W.

    “Every time my wife and I come to London we make sure we take advantage of London Walk tours. This time we chose a Dickens and Shakespeare themed walk. Our guide was a Royal Shakespeare Company actor. He took us on a fascinating journey to actual places described in these authors’ books, and through areas of London where Shakespeare lived and Dickens worked. At various points along the way he would recite, often from memory, passages from various books and plays. Standing in the courtyard of Guildhall and listening to his voice fill that vast space was truly magical… We saw where the Scottish hero William Wallace was executed, where Dickens’ character Oliver Twist would have passed on his way to a robbery, where we could touch the scars left in the walls of St Bart’s hospital by bombs dropped from a Zeppelin in WWI, all while listening to our guide recite from King Lear. If that isn’t fascinating, I don’t know what is!” Jim W., Silver Spring, Maryland

  2. Bindu Vydianath

    Fabulous walk led by Corrina. She’s amazingly well read and knowledgeable as well as entertaining. Not surprised to learn that she’s a Cambridge blue stocking!!!

  3. Lyn Michelle Heiming

    My second time on this tour. I booked it again, spontaneously, having arrived in London earlier than expected. This time, I took notes. Again, two hours wasn’t long enough for me. I enjoyed every minute of it. So many interesting things to learn, think about and ask about. I’m won over. I don’t usually write reviews but just have to, here. Have to praise where praise is due.

  4. Stefan Schrempp

    I took an earlier flight to London in order to arrive in time for the walk, and it proved to be a worthwhile decision. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was a magnificent event. I would like to express my gratitude to Stephen.
    Stefan, Frankfurt, Germany

  5. Sandra Currie

    Stephen’s Shakespeare & Dickens walk was the highlight of our holiday 7 years ago. When we came again this week,(May 2024) we hoped we’d get an actor again doing our tour, not ever thinking it would be the same fella!
    He was astonishing, you’ll remember this tour and especially the sheer joy, life and emotion that this guide Stephen brings to it, for a very long time.

  6. Daniel O’Neill

    Just back from our walk with Corinna through Shakespeare’s and Dickens’ London. We enjoyed the tour so much, learned a lot of history, and saw streets, alleys and parks we never knew were around the corner from St. Paul’s. Corinna is an excellent tour guide. She was easy to hear despite the often loud street noise. The hearing challenged members of our group were so impressed with her enunciation and delivery. Her delivery of Prospero’s closing monologue from The Tempest at the end of the tour gave us goose bumps. Wonderful experience.

  7. Lyn Heiming

    I just wanted to give the feedback that this walk was brilliant. Steve is a fantastic guide and a fountain of fascinating information. The guide “makes or breaks” the enjoyment of such a tour and he really created a masterpiece! He felt like a best friend, best tutor and almost Dickens or Shakespeare himself at times within such a short space of time. This afternoon was a highlight! Thank you.

  8. Nicolas

    My wife and I have done about 100 walking tours over the years. We took this tour several years ago and we still talk about it. It’s safe to say that we both agree this was probably the best tour we’ve ever done. The guide was so passionate and the content was really interesting. I’d highly recommend it.

  9. Isaac Lee

    The Shakespeare and Dickens tour was a fantastic learning experience. Despite the weather being a bit difficult, Corinna made the best of it and ensured that we weren’t always sopping wet. The tour really brings out the rich history and culture of London in a very humorous and immersive fashion. Would recommend these tours to any of my friends coming to London in the future.

  10. June Chan

    The tour was fantastic and engaging! Corinna is absolutely amazing, funny, seamlessly weaving the history of Shakespeare and Dickens into the fabric of London’s streets and buildings. Her insights have added a whole new dimension to our London exploration. Even though we were indulged by the typical London weather, she made the 2 hours tour very short. I would 100% recommend this tour to any visitors to London.

  11. CarolineSF

    Great tour enhanced by talented Corinna’s recitations and wit. Fascinating and informative all the way through.

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