DICKENS LONDON WALKING TOURS
As well as the acclaimed and original Jack the Ripper Tour we also offer walks of the London of Charles Dickens.
WALKS IN DICKENS LONDON
If you were asked to name three eminent Victorians, which three would spring to mind?
Chances are they would be – Queen Victoria, Jack the Ripper and Charles Dickens.
Although Dickens had been dead for almost twenty years when the Jack the Ripper murders occurred, he most certainly knew the area well and had been warning people of the inevitable hazards of ignoring the plight of the massive underclass that was being allowed to develop across London in general, and the East End in particular, throughout his most of his professional career.
Richard Jones is the author of several books on Dickens London and his Dickens walks have become firm favourites with those who want to gain a vivid insight into the London locations that fired the imagination of the writer who, more than any other, is indelibly linked with the streets and places of the Victorian Metropolis.
Richard offers several walking tours around Dickens London.
The London of Charles Dickens
Selected Sundays at 11.30am
This is a truly fascinating walk that explores the streets of Borough, an area that both inspired and haunted Charles Dickens.
When Dickens was 12 years old his father, John, was imprisoned in the Marshalsea Prison and the young author-to-be was confronted by the sudden, and traumatic, loss of his childhood.
Your journey through the London of Charles Dickens will begin alongside a local landmark that the young Dickens would have passed as he headed into London not yet realising what fate had in store for him.
Such was the effect of his boyhood experiences in the very streets that the tour explores that, as an adult, he would, whenever possible, avoid them as far as possible and, by his own admission, would make a detour rather than walk past this landmark and be reminded of what he later referred to as “the crowded ghosts of many miserable years.”
The walk wends its way past “Little Dorrit’s Church” before crossing the adjacent churchyard to stand before the surviving wall of the Marshalsea Prison where you will hear the full story of John Dickens being imprisoned for debt and learn of the profound effect it had upon Charles for the rest of his life.
We then twist our way through a delightful warren of narrow back streets to enter a truly secret garden where you will hear how Dickens had an indirect influence on it founding.
From here the walk picks its way along a thoroughfare that was once described as being “like unto one continuous alehouse with not a break between…”
Sadly, almost all of the inns were swept away with the coming of the railways in the mid 19th century. But, ragged vestiges of them still survive and Richard will point these out to you as you duck in and out of the atmospheric alleyways and courtyards that now occupy their sites.
One inn, however, has survived and it holds the distinction of being London’s only surviving galleried coaching inn, a true time capsule that is still much as it was when Charles Dickens came a-calling.
Having explored more of the old alleyways that snake their way through this historic quarter of London – including one that marks the site of the inn where a chance meeting resulted in Dickens writing career really taking off – the tour strolls through London’s oldest market (which Dickens featured in Pickwick Papers) to arrive on the banks of the River Thames where you will enjoy a stunning view across to St Paul’s and the Tower of London on the opposite bank.
Here you will hear of the memorable, though decidedly macabre, opening of Our Mutual Friend, which began on the very stretch of the river that flows before you.
Finally, we make our way to the only surviving arch of the London Bridge that Dickens would have known, where you will stand beside Nancy’s Steps, so called because it was here in Oliver Twist, that Nancy betrayed Bill Sikes to Mr Brownlow.
So join Dickens expert Richard Jones on a journey through the streets and past the places that Dickens knew and wrote about as you explore the streets of Dickens London.