Nitty gritty first, mood music second… Iconic City buildings – the Gherkin, the Cheesegrater, Lloyds. London a world centre for business, finance, insurance, shipping – now, and across the centuries. Where to insure your voice, your hands, your next Space Mission. The secrets of the nation’s gold – and perhaps yours too? Churches where Londoners have worshipped for centuries. A1 walk. (Yes, we’ll explain what that means. Lots of takeaway nuggets on this walk, one of which is getting you au fait with City of London lingo.)
Meet your guide. Click here for Ann’s podcast. (Think of the walk as the Command Module; Ann’s podcast is the Lunar Module.)
Ok, mood music time: London. 2,000 years old. Higgledy-piggledy. History haunted. Secretive in the extreme. A labyrinth where the past lurks in the present. Aggressively modern when you look up. A tear in space-time when you peer round this corner or go down that alley. A city that preserves features – like so many geological strata – of its earlier selves. A city that’s not easy to figure out – you don’t reap London in one traverse. Why bother? you ask. Here’s why: 1) London’s of world-historical importance and 2) depths, intricacies and secrets are always interesting. Bottom line: this is a great walk. It’s the London labyrinth and London highlights and the shaping past. You’ll see both the hoary old City and today’s London. Best of all, you’ll see into them. N.B. the walk ends in Guildhall Yard, a very short walk from St. Paul’s Tube Stop.
LONDON WALKS PRACTICALS
The Heart of the City walk takes place every Saturday at 2 pm. The meeting point is just outside the exit of Tower Hill Tube (meet by the “Tower Hill Tram” coffee stall).
“WHAT WILL I SEE?” “WHAT WILL BE PARADED BEFORE US?”
Here’s a baker’s dozen, a sampling. Important thing to remember is it’s just a sneak peek. There’s lots more than this.
1. a dense network of small streets and alleys weaving between the main thoroughfares
2. Victorian palazzi, a streetscape “as peaceful as an Italian town at siesta time”
3. an unfurling panorama that demonstrates perfectly why, in the words of one historian of city planning, “the compactness of a 2000-year-old urban core is fortuitously well suited to the operation of a globalised financial service centre.”
4. one of the few City churches to survive the Great Fire
5. a hilltop in whose “stony soil lie some of the oldest bits of London”
6. the oldest arch in the City of London
7. the building that changed public perception of tall buildings in London
8. the first of the City’s railway termini (and its “air-rights” development)
9. London’s boldest piece of architectural art (properly integrated into the project rather than a pointless add-on)
10. “a welcome restatement of the City tradition of lanes and alleys
11. a cesspit “impregnated with putrid animal and excrementitious matter”
12. there’s seeing these buildings and “seeing” them. You “see” them when you understand the relationship they achieve with their neighbours. That’s another takeaway this walk serves up
13. this place: “even today one can sense the impact this structure must have had when new, towering over the mean timber houses of the city”
And that’s just for starters, a taster…
It’s the Sky Garden. Perfect “fit” with this walk. Apres walk. Free to go up. But you have to book.
Katherine De Vere –
We had the all-knowledgeable Judy for our tour – and what she doesn’t know about London or the history of our tour isn’t worth knowing. Delightful nuggets of information, tales, whimsical titbits and facts all blend together in an exceedingly pleasant amble around the heart of the City of London. Thoroughly enjoyed learning about the buildings and the people behind them. Will never look at St Ursula in the same light – AND learnt what A1 meant. What a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. THANK YOU!
Bob Passmore –
Anne was a friendly and very knowledgeable guide for our tour! When she learned that I was an insurance guy, she added lots of tid bits about insurance and even invited me to share some things about my visit to the “old” Lloyds rooms as a young man many years ago. Loved it.
Michael Herbert –
I thoroughly enjoyed Ann’s Heart of the City London Walk. She is friendly, very professional and knowledgeable about the City of London. Its really interesting part of London and the place where the Roman’s.first settled. Well done and thanks for such a fascinating afternoon.
Michael Herbert –
I thoroughly enjoyed Ann’s Heart of the City London Walk. She is friendly, very professional and knowledgeable about the City of London. Its really interesting part of London and the place where the Roman’s.first settled. Well done and thanks for such an interesting afternoon.
Sue M –
From the 17thC coffee houses to the Cheesgrater we learned so much about how and why this tiny area has played such an outsized role in not just the UK’s but the world’s economy, and how its denizens have worked, played, eaten and worshipped over the centuries (126 churches in the square mile?!). A fascinating dip into history and architecture via Ann’s entertaining and content rich presentation.
Jim Weatherbee –
Both walks we took, first the Jack the Ripper with guide Andrew was exceptional in its story telling and in the history of London. As first time visitors to London, this was a must walk. The second under guide Ann was both informative and interesting.
A fascinating and insightful couple of hours spent walking with Ann around the City of London on Saturday, for me and my two friends. Ann has a wealth of knowledge about the area and kept us highly entertained with both informative facts and related tales! We covered what seemed to be a large area, finding side streets, secret gardens and buildings new and old, about which Ann revealed stories and secrets from their past and more recent history. Excellent value for money. We intend to try out a few more walks now too!
A very pleasant and interesting few hours walking the lanes and streets of the City of London on a Saturday afternoon. Ann who is a brilliant guide, who brings the past to the present with great stories and has great architectural knowledge of modern buildings. I absolutely recommend this walk and be prepared for unexpected delights, such as seeing a wedding party leaving an ancient City church. Thanks Ann
Great walk around the quiet streets of City of London on a Saturday. Learnt a lot about the iconic buildings and their architects. Loved the mix of old and new.
Simply can’t fault it and strongly recommended to everyone even those who might think know the city.
Loads to learn and discover particularly guided by Ann who’s very knowledgeable, kind and patient and always ready to go extra miles…
All in all nothing less than 5 star!
Thank you Ann
Mrs Carter –
A brilliant couple of hours spent in Anne’s company. Not too long or wordy and our 13 year old son loved it. Plenty of facts and history rolled together. Money well spent.
Patrick Going –
Anne gave us fantastic tour of the City and despite having worked in the City for the last 35 years it was great to learn more about the Square Mile’s hidden streets and historical secrets. We all had a great time and look forward to other tours of London
Geoff Miller –
This is a great walk in the square mile. Anne our guide was very knowledgeable. It was a rainy afternoon but Anne’s enthusiasm and warmth made the afternoon special. We will be booking another tour soon. Thanks Ane.
Judith Scammell –
Really enjoyable and interesting talk by Ann. For me it was just the right balance between historical facts and human stories to bring the City to life. First London Walk I have been on but I’m sure it won’t be the last! Would definitely recommend.
Anne C –
What a fabulous way to spend a Saturday afternoon. This walk goes right into the city and up close to the iconic buildings that make up London’s skyline. You see and hear the history of this area that resides nestled into the new construction. Ann shares tidbits and interesting facts throughout the journey.
Mrs R A Voller –
An interesting and pleasant couple of hours spent with Ann, sharing her knowledge and anecdotes in the square mile. Really enjoyable tour, picking up on things you would not necessarily see or understand just passing by. Really love these tours, the guides are brilliant and the routes never fail to find interest and intrigue. Well done Ann and london walks and thank you. Good value for money but wouldn’t want to pay more than £15 pp.