This completely unique itinerary of a self-guided tour through London created in collaboration with GPSmyCity.com! GPSmyCity makes iOS and Android apps that feature self-guided tours for 470 cities around the world. The City Walks Apps are super easy to use and the perfect tool for your next city trip. I only recently discovered these apps and I think they are great!!
Are you a young professional? Are you cash poor as well as time poor? Well so am I. Trust me, neither of those are a good reason to give up on your dream of exploring the world. I always preach that the best way to travelling is to start local. It is so easy to oversee all the wonderful sites that lie right on your doorstep. We become so blind to our own surroundings. Please don’t be a couch potato! You might not have a big adventure planned for this weekend, but that is no reason to stay at home. Instead, pop on some comfortable shoes and rediscover your local surroundings. I promise you will be surprised by what you find.
My favorite way to explore a new place is by walking through it. You discover parts of the area you would otherwise miss should you only travel by car or public transportation. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when you simply need to get from Point A to Point B. Walking is not always an option. But then again, I don’t like to live my life in a hurry and talking a walk is always a good way to slow your pace down. You will never be short on options for guided tours in London. You are truly spoilt for choice. I have participated in many and believe that they are a great way of getting to grips with a city. It is also a very social activity to partake in. But maybe you prefer exploring at your own pace. Or maybe your purse strings are tight and you can’t really afford a guided tour. Or maybe you have been on them all and are looking for something a little different. Instead, you could take a self-guided tour crafted by a local without having to follow a schedule or look like a sheep following a tour guide waving a silly flag so you don’t get lost. If this sounds like you, you might want to check-out GPSmyCity. GPSmyCity makes iOS and Android apps that feature self-guided tours for 470 cities around the world. Each city app comes with detailed tour route maps and powerful navigation features to guide you from one sight to the next. No need to hop on a tour bus or join a tour group; now you can explore all of the best attractions on your own, at your own pace, and at a cost that is only a fraction of what you would normally pay for a guided tour. The City Maps and Walks apps from GPSmyCity are broken into categories so you can choose to go on a shopping tour, eating tour, drinking tour, history tour, gardens tour, or more! Each city has different categories all created by locals with insider knowledge. A detailed walking route map and turn-by-turn walking directions are provided for each walk. So you can confidently “lose yourself” on your trip, but not get lost along the way. What’s great about this is it is designed to work offline without internet connection. So you don’t need to purchase mobile data plans or don’t have to worry about worry about paying roaming charges when traveling to foreign countries. This is a must have for all travelers!
A LITTLE INTRODUCTION TO CHARLES DICKENS
Born in Portsmouth in 1812, Charles John Huffam Dickens was the second child to arrive in a big family of his father, a Naval clerk. At the age of three, Dickens traveled to London along with his family, upon which two years later they moved to Chatham in Kent. Starting circa 1840 until his death in 1870, Dickens remained the most famous and popular writer in the world. He authored some of England’s iconic literary characters. The writer spent most of his life in London enjoying an affluent middle class lifestyle. This self-guided tour took us to some of the most notable places in Dickens’ London.
1# OUR DEPARTURE POINT: HOSTEL CLINK 78
Last week I was invited to stay at hostel Clink 78, in return for a review. As luck would have it, this fit right into our plans of following one of GPSmyCity’s self-guided tours of London – the Charles Dickens Walking Tour. Set in a two-hundred-year-old courthouse in the vibrant area of King’s Cross, Clink78 mixes elegant Victorian architecture with unique and colourful interior design. Many of the original features remain. The old magistrates’ courtrooms now house communal lounge areas, guests sit at pews in the TV room and some bedrooms occupy former cells. Staff are quick to point out that Charles Dickenson – one of Britain’s most famous authors – once worked here as a court scribe.
2# WESTMINSTER ABBEY – LAST RESTING PLACE OF CHARLES DICKENS
Because of our initial starting point (Clink Hostel 78), we decided to follow the tour in reverse order. This is the beauty of the self-guided tours from GPSmyCity. You can choose in which order and at what speed to visit the suggested sites. You can even skip the ones that you aren’t interested in – nobody will judge you. It is completely and entirely up to you. Our first pit-stop on the self-guided tour of Charles Dickens’ London: Westminster Abbey Westminster Abbey is a large, mainly Gothic church, in Westminster, London, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English, later British and later still monarchs of the Commonwealth Realms. According to a tradition first reported by Sulcard in about 1080, the Abbey was first founded in the time of Mellitus, Bishop of London, on the present site, then known as Thorn Ey (Thorn Island). The Abbey’s two western were built between 1722 and 1745 by Nicholas Hawksmoor, constructed fromPortland Stone to an early example of Gothic Revival Design. A small stone with a simple inscription marks the grave of Charles Dickens, famous English novelist, in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey. Dickens died at his house, Gad’s Hill Place, near Rochester in Kent and it was presumed that he would be buried at Rochester Cathedral. But public opinion, led by The Times newspaper, demanded that Westminster Abbey was the only place for the burial of someone of his distinction. Charles Dickens was buried on the 14th June. Only twelve mourners attended, made up of family and close friends, together with the Abbey clergy. Each year on the anniversary of Dickens’ birth a wreath is laid on the grave. To the west of Dickens lies George Frederick Handel (d.1759), the great composer, on the east author Richard Brinsley Sheridan (d.1816), on the south Richard Cumberland (d.1811) dramatist, and, later on, to the north were buried the ashes of Thomas Hardy (d.1928) and Rudyard Kipling (d.1936). Address: The Chapter Office, 20 Dean’s Yard, Westminster Abbey, London SW1P 3PA, England
3# WARREN’S BLACKING – CHARLES DICKENS’ FIRST JOB
When Dickens’ father was jailed at the Marshalsea Debtors’ Prison, his parents decided to send Charles, 12 at that time, to work at Warren’s Blacking warehouse on the Strand, producing boot polish. The job was offered by a relative, James Lamert, the warehouse’s manager, who knew about the family’s financial dire straits. Dickens’ job implied wrapping up jars of polish with paper, securing each with a string, and then attaching a printed label. He had to support himself on a weekly pay of six shillings. Dickens worked here from February to June 1824 and left – contrary to his mother’s wishes but at the insistence of his father (who by that time had been freed) – to go to school at the Wellington House Academy for another few years. The former location of Blacking Factory is now occupied by London’s Charing Cross Station. Address: Charing Cross, Westminster, London WC2, England
4# SEVEN DIALS – A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION FOR CHARLES DICKENS
Lying between Covent Garden and Soho is the small cobbled-street area known as Seven Dials. It’s a great place for shopping without having to pay high London prices and is also a small slice of the history of the capital. The area is made up of seven streets and yards, which were once a part of the St Giles Rookery – a slum area frequented by the poor, criminals and prostitutes. However, when Thomas Neale laid out the designs in 1690 and gave his name to a street and a yard, he had visions of turning the area into an upper-middle-class part of the city. His original drawings centred on the central part of the area, a square where six streets would converge, and here he set up a pillar bearing six sundials. Shortly before the completion of the work, a seventh street was added, but although the name Seven Dials caught on, a 7th sundial was never added to the pillar. In 1773, the Town Council removed the column, supposedly for repairs, but in truth to try to disperse the “unsavoury elements” that used the central place as a meeting point. This didn’t noticeably reduce the crime rate but gave the locals something to talk about. Seven Dials was long synonymous with poverty and crime – a black hole to most Londoners. Dickens was fascinated with the area and stormed it with pen and paper. Dickens first book (published in 1836) However, when Thomas Neale laid out the designs in 1690 and gave his name to a street and a yard, he had visions of turning the area into an upper-middle-class part of the city. His original drawings centred on the central part of the area, a square where six streets would converge, and here he set up a pillar bearing six sundials. Shortly before the completion of the work, a seventh street was added, but although the name Seven Dials caught on, a 7th sundial was never added to the pillar. In 1773, the Town Council removed the column, supposedly for repairs, but in truth to try to disperse the “unsavoury elements” that used the central place as a meeting point. This didn’t noticeably reduce the crime rate but gave the locals something to talk about. Seven Dials was long synonymous with poverty and crime – a black hole to most Londoners. Dickens was fascinated with the area and stormed it with pen and paper. Dickens first book (published in 1836) Sketches by Boz, follows a fictional narrator, Boz, who roams the metropolis and observes its neighborhoods, people and customs. Charles Dickens detailed and lively description of Seven Dials brings the early 19th-century London vividly back to life. Eventually, as often happens, the”unsavoury elements” lost interest in the place and moved on to more prosperous areas, where the pickings were easier. Gradually Seven Dials became a popular meeting place for students. Pubs and shops were either renovated or opened. The pillar was replaced by a copy of the original in 1988. Today the area attracts millions of tourists every year. Shops on Monmouth Street sell all sorts of luxury goods and Earlham Street’s shops specialiSe in vintage and street-style clothes.
Pop into Neale’s Yard Dairy on Short’s Garden to find 50 varieties of cheese. If by now you are feeling a little peckish, head to Neale’s Yard. Here you will find an Herbal Remedy Shop and several great pubs and restaurants. We had lunch at Homeslice Pizza. this restaurant offers huge 20in pizzas topped with unusual ingredients, available whole for £20 or by the slice for £4. The short menu changes occasionally with only nine or so different topping combinations available at any given time. A 20in pizza is a massive undertaking, so share it with your partner. You can even choose two different toppings if you ask nicely. Address: Seven Dials, greater London, WC2H 9DD, England
5# LINCOLN’S INN FIELD
Lincoln’s Inn Fields is the largest public square in London. It was laid out in the 1630s under the initiative of the speculative builder and contractor William Newton, “the first in a long series of entrepreneurs who took a hand in developing London”, as Sir Nikolaus Pevsner observes. In Charles Dickens’ novel Bleak House, the sinister solicitor to the aristocracy Mr Tulkinghorn has his offices in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, and one of its most dramatic scenes is set there. The description of his building corresponds most closely to Lindsey House. After a spell as a patent agency, Lindsey House, together with the neighbouring buildings at 57-58, which includes some features designed by Sir John Soane, has become home to the leading civil liberties barristers chambers – Garden Court Chambers. Address: Lincoln’s Inn Fields, City of London, WC2A 3ED, England
6# 48 DAUGHTY STREET – CHARLES DICKENS OLD HAUNT
A year after their marriage, Dickens and his wife Catherine moved into this three-story house on a private street in an affluent part of London. The move was made possible by the early success of “The Pickwick Papers” and his ensued fame. 48 Doughty Street was very spacious, especially compared to their tight accommodation at Furnival’s Inn. Charles Dickens and his wife lived in 48 Doughty Street for two years, from 1837 to 1839. This last standing London residence of the Dickens family escaped demolition courtesy of the Dickens Fellowship, who renovated the home and opened in its quarters the Dickens House Museum in 1925. The main rooms have retained the arrangement befitting Dicken’s period. Among the museum’s exhibits are the writer’s letters, manuscripts, first editions of his best-known novels, paintings, and furniture – including the desk he used during public readings of his work. Several days a week, visitors are allowed to physically handle the displayed items. Address: 48 Doughty Street, Camden Town, London WC1N 3LX, England
7# GRAYS INN – CHARLES DICKENS PRIVATE CLUB
Established in 1569, Grays Inn is one of four inns – the other three are Lincoln’s Inn, the Inner, and Middle Temples – where British barristers undergo training. Prior to becoming a barrister a student must join the inn, pass their exams, and dine at the inn a certain number of times. The Inn is both a professional body and a provider of office accommodation (chambers) for many barristers. It is ruled by a governing council called “Pension”, made up of the Masters of the Bench (or “Benchers”), and led by the Treasurer, who is elected to serve a one-year term. Gray’s Inn and the other three Inns of Court remain the only bodies legally allowed to call a barrister to the bar, allowing him or her to practice in England or Wales. Gray’s Inn is known for its gardens (or “Walks”), which have existed since at least 1597. Having existed for over 600 years, Gray’s Inn has a long list of notable and honorary members. Charles Dickens worked here as a clerk whilst briefly playing with the idea of pursuing a legal career. Dickens mentions Gray’s Inn in several of his novels, including David Copperfield and the Pickwick Papers. Address: Gray’s Inn Square, Greater London, WC1R 5AH, England
8# STAPLE INN
You will be totally charmed by the 7-gabled roof and rather crooked black and white timber-framed façade of Staple Inn to be found on the South side of High Holborn. It is the last surviving Inn of Chancery and the earliest reference to it was in 1292 when it was a covered market called “Le Stapled Halle”. It was a wool staple building where wool was weighed and taxed. In the 13th century, when King Henry III decreed that no institutes of legal education could exist within the City of London and papal decree forbade the clergy to teach law, the lawyers and law students gathered in the small village of Holborn, as near as possible to the Palace of Westminster and met to do business in several inns. These inns later became the four famous Inns of Court, institute of the legal profession. In 1414 lawyers and law students formed the “Grand Company of Fellows of Staple Inn”. A new hall was built in 1580 and in 1586, the Inn was established as a medieval school of primary legal training. Over the centuries, the building has been renovated many times, but always in keeping with the original design of the inn. The current Hall has beautiful stained-glass windows commemorating the Norman merchant market, the early fellows of the Inn, monarchs and judges. The ground floor is rented out to restaurants and shops, whose signage, because the building is Grade I Listed, is sober and discreet. Address: Staple Inn, Camden, WC1V, England
9# FURNIVAL’S INN
Together with his brother Frederick, Charles Dickens resided at Furnival’s Inn from 1834 till 1837. This Inn, originally part of the Inns of Court group of buildings, accommodated law students from the 14th to the 19th centuries. After The Society of Furnival’s Inn left in 1817, the building underwent reconstruction in 1818-1820. Dickens started working on “The Pickwick Papers” whilst lodging at the Inn, where he settled out of necessity after having to repay his father’s debt in Dickens started working on “The Pickwick Papers” whilst lodging at the Inn, where he settled out of necessity after having to repay his father’s debt in order to prevent him from going back to prison. Although he lived in scanty conditions, Dicken’s was particularly prolific during this period of time. He was introduced to London’s most important literary circles and subsequently married Catherine Hogarth. Dicken’s life at Furnival’s Inn is commemorated in this place with a bust and a plaque attesting to his presence. Address: 26 Furnival Street, London EC4A 1JS, England
10# DOCTOR’S COMMONS – NOT ONE OF CHARLES DICKENS FAVOURITE PLACES
Nearby St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, the Doctors’ Commons used to house all sorts of legal and religious documents, such as marriage and divorce certificates and wills, as well as the society of ecclesiastical lawyers who handled them. Dickens dedicated a sketch to the work of the Doctors’ Commons, whilst on a trip there, that was later published in “Sketches by Boz”. The piece describes, in Dickens’ typical witty manner, the proceedings of several cases held in Dickens dedicated a sketch to the work of the Doctors’ Commons, whilst on a trip there, that was later published in “Sketches by Boz”. The piece describes, in Dickens’ typical witty manner, the proceedings of several cases held in the Court of Arches, the supreme court of the Archbishop. Contrary to the favourable interpretation of the Commons in stories of Sherlock Holmes – who found it useful for solving crimes – Dickens’ own account of this body of law is less benign and says much about Victorian society. The building doesn’t actually exist anymore and we had a little trouble finding it’s location. A plaque set on the Faraday building on the north side of Queen Victoria Street marking the site on which the now demolished Doctor’s common once stood. Address: Faraday Building, Queen Victoria Street, London EC4V 4BU, England Address: Staple Inn, Camden, WC1V, England
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