London History Bulletin – January 16

Parliament outlawed Catholicism on January 16, 1581. This London History Bulletin bears witness.


London calling.

London Walks connecting.

London Walks here with your daily London fix.

Story time. History time.

January 16th. It gets a black flag for what happened in 1581. A Day of Shame. On January 16th, 1581 Parliament outlawed Catholicism. 

For a century and more the history of Catholicism in this country would be a story of long, patient endurance. Long, patient endurance against persecution and legalised cruelty. Perpetual imprisonment was to be the punishment for saying mass or keeping a school. Catholics were declared incapable of inheriting lands. In due course they were not allowed to purchase lands or estates. 

They couldn’t possess arms. They couldn’t own a horse of any value.

The papists, as they were called, were blamed for every misfortune and calamity. And on it went. A deeply shaming, sorry saga. 

And that’s the London History Bulletin for January 16th. A day of infamy in London’s – and England’s – History. 

The London History Bulletin, as always, has come to you from – home of London Walks, London’s signature walking tour company.

 Emanating from – 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 tomorrow.

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