Easter Sunday 2023

London calling.

London Walks connecting.

London Walks here with your latest London fix.

Story time. History time.

It’s Easter Sunday. And resurrection is the order of the day. Because this podcast has been quiescent for a few weeks. Almost laid to rest. But on this day of days – how to put this – well, let’s say there was a visitation of sorts, something descended from somewhere and came and rolled away the stone…

And lo, we’ve got ourselves a podcast. An Easter Sunday London Walks podcast.

Goes like this:

It’s the Gap Years.

About 650 of them. I.E. 410 AD to 1066 (of course). Or thereabouts.

Roughly speaking the Anglo-Saxon era. It’s more complicated – much more complicated – than two ever so tidy, neat, “bookend” dates suggest, but 410 and 1066 are convenient “shorthand” for the Roman departure and the Norman “arrival”. (For the record, the Anglo-Saxons started to pitch up later in the 5th century.)

Anyway, yes, a heptarch (if you will) of centuries.

AKA The Dark Ages. (You can’t help but wonder did that sobriquet come about not least because “history is always written by the victors” and the Anglo-Saxons were the losers. Big time. At least in the short run. The short-run in this instance being a third of a millennium or thereabouts. A third of a millennium because it’s in the second half of the 14th century that the Norman Overlord – Anglo-Saxon Villein interface gives way to that extraordinary new development, a recognisably “English” identity.)

So, yes, The Dark Ages. The period – some “period”, six and a half centuries! – about which most people know next to nothing. The Romans? Whoa! Yes! For sure! They’re practically next-door neighbours. That’s how au fait we are with Julius Caesar and Claudius and Co. and what they got up to.

And ditto the Normans.

But the poor old Anglo-Saxons…

And the fact of the matter is, that blissful ignorance shouldn’t be the case.


As my favourite London historian once put it, “Perhaps there were fewer people in the London of 1066 than there had been in the City’s Roman heyday. Nevertheless, the Anglo-Saxon period has as much claim to be considered London’s determining era; and its influence was transmitted without a break. In many respects, the rest of the City’s story…may be regarded as the fruiting of seeds sown well before the Norman Conquest.”

And where’s all this tending? Why bring it up now (on Easter Sunday)?

Here’s why. We have the Anglo-Saxons to thank for the very word Easter. (And indeed for the timing and much of the “hinterland” of the Easter idea.)

In short, Eostre was the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility.

A Jewish troublemaker and an Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility. What’s not to like about that combo?

You’ve been listening to the London Walks podcast. Emanating from www.walks.com – home of London Walks, London’s signature walking tour company. London’s local, time-honoured, fiercely independent, family-owned, just-the- right-size walking tour company. And as long as we’re at it, London’s multi-award-winning walking tour company. Indeed, London’s only award-winning walking tour company.

And here’s the secret: London Walks is essentially run as a guides’ cooperative.

That’s the key to everything. It’s the reason we’re able to attract and keep the best guides in London. You can get schlubbers to do this for £20 a walk. But you cannot get world-class guides – let alone accomplished professionals.

It’s not rocket science: you get what you pay for. And just as surely, you also get what you don’t pay for.

Back in 1968 when we got started we quickly came to a fork in the road. We had to answer a searching question: Do we want to make the most money? Or do we want to be the best walking tour company in the world? You want to make the most money you go the schlubbers route. You want to be the best walking tour company in the world you do whatever you have to do to attract and keep the best guides in London – you want them guiding for you, not for somebody else. Bears repeating: the way we’re structured – a guides’ cooperative – is the key to the whole thing. It’s the reason for all those awards, it’s the reason people who know go with London Walks, it’s the reason we’ve got a big following, a lively, loyal, discerning following – quality attracts quality.

It’s the reason we’re able – uniquely – to front our walks with accomplished, in many cases distinguished professionals: barristers, doctors, geologists, museum curators, archaeologists, historians, criminal defence lawyers, Royal Shakespeare Company actors, a bevy of MVPs, Oscar winners (people who’ve won the Guide of the Year Award)… well, you get the idea. As that travel writer famously put it, “if this were a golf tournament, every name on the Leader Board would be a London Walks guide.”

And as we put it: London Walks Guides make the new familiar and the familiar new.

And on that agreeable note…come then, let us go forward together on some great London Walks. See ya next time.

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