diamond geezer

 Sunday, October 12, 2014

Once a year four of London's tourist guide associations join together to present Local London Guiding Day. Each offers a free taster walking tour, hourly from ten til four, and anyone in the know can tag along. This year's theme was the Georgians, so each guiding association had to throw together a 45 minute itinerary visiting whatever local sights they thought fit, some more successfully than others. And if you went on all four walks and got your programme stamped you could enter a draw to win another free walk, a proper one given that they normally cost. I ticked off the lot and had a most interesting day, discovering several things (and even the odd location) of which I'd not previously been aware. Here's what you missed. And, next year?

Westminster Guides: Through a Fanlight Darkly
Departing: Charing Cross station
There's a peculiar part of town between the Strand and the Thames, a thin strip of streets not usually visited, much of which has a Georgian tinge. There's Benjamin Franklin House, for example, where the great American spent 15 years of his life before dashing back across the pond to fight for independence. That's fun, if you've ever been inside, but we spent most of our time further along the embankment behind the watergate. Several grand mansions once lined the river here, all lost, including York House, Northumberland House and Durham House. On the site of the latter, in the mid 18th century, the Adam Brothers erected the Adelphi Buildings. These neoclassical terraced houses were supposed to make their fortune, but the rich and famous were slow to move in, and in the 1930s the block was knocked down and replaced by the Art Deco Adelphi we see today. Several original Adam terraces survive round about, however, some beautifully decorated with stucco, others rather more plain. And one of the Adelphi's riverside vaults remains, now a secret cabbies' cut-through to embankment level, and a tale to be told some other day.
Thing I didn't know before: When George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham sold York House, he insisted that the streets laid out on the site bore his name. They were therefore called George Court, Villiers Street, Duke Street, Buckingham Street... and Of Alley.
The best of the four tours for... a) smiling chirpiness b) taking the backstreets c) uncommon architecture
What the guides usually do: three walks weekly, one on Wednesday and two on Saturdays, £8

Greenwich Tour Guides: Inheritance, Indulgence and Infighting
Departing: Cutty Sark DLR
Of all the four walks, this one hit the Georgian nail on the head the best. And that's because, perhaps surprisingly, central Greenwich boasts several direct hits from the Four Georges themselves. "That's where George I first held his first reception on arriving in the country," said our guide pointing at the Queen's House in Greenwich Park. Inside the National Maritime Museum we saw Prince Frederick's gilded barge, built for George II's unloved son and heir (whose parents were both secretly pleased when he died young from a cricket ball injury). In the Old Royal Naval College, where The Madness of King George was filmed, we saw one of London's only statues to his father George II, alas disfigured by paint removal after a student prank. And at the back of the Painted Hall we saw an ingratiating tableau to the Hanoverian monarchs and had its deeper symbolism explained. All this and some general Georgian stuff elsewhere, Greenwich having more than its fair share of four-storey terraces to admire, splendid.
Thing I didn't know before: Stable Yard by the Greenwich Theatre, until recently the Spread Eagle pub, used to be a 17th century coaching inn.
The best of the four tours for... a) professionalism b) Georgian relevance c) crossing the road properly
What the guides usually do: daily walks at 12.15 and 2.15pm, £8

City of London Guides: Georgian Life in the City
Departing: Bank station
You'd think the City was rammed with Georgian treasures, but instead a lot is post-Fire Stuart, and a lot lot more is postwar redevelopment. Our guides therefore had their work cut out to find a circuit round Bank station that ticked all the right boxes. They sort-of succeeded. The Bank of England's curtain wall dates from the right period, as does the Mansion House, built in Palladian style on the site of a herb market. St Mary Woolnoth is about as early Georgian as you can get, Hawksmoor's only City church, with a most unusual columned facade topped off by twin turrets. And the Rothschilds' HQ on St Swithin's Lane may be as modern as they come, but the family rose to prominence during the relevant period so were duly included. Other than these highlights, this was more a tour round back alleys with a few supporting historical characters mentioned, plus a 1799 water pump thrown in for good measure. There was also competition from a City wedding emptying onto the steps of the Royal Exchange, although its attendees were easily distinguished from would-be walkers by their choice of non-sensible footwear.
Thing I didn't know before: The ticket hall at Bank station is located, near enough, in the former crypt of St Mary Woolnoth church.
The best of the four tours for... a) detailed historical information b) bustle c) brevity
What the guides usually do: numerous daily tours, at least two each day, £7 or £8.

Clerkenwell & Islington Guides: Bad, Sad,... and Mad!
Departing: Angel station
A slight problem emerges when trying to discuss the Islington area during Georgian times - it was mostly fields. Nevertheless Saturday's tour managed to connect various locations that did at least exist at the time. One of these was the Regent's Canal, which tunnelled in during George III's reign, and another was the New River, which had already been around for over 100 years. We stood by the former and in the latter, now a public park, as well as following the ex-waterway to its final stop. I'd been to New River Head before, obviously, but for most of the rest of the tour party it was an eye-opening find. Meryl Streep's been filming in nearby Myddleton Square, apparently, for a Suffragettes film due for release early next year. As for Sadler's Wells, even that's originally too old to be Georgian. Indeed the theatre had already descended to a "a nursery of debauchery" by the time George I came to the throne, so its ascent to a modern venue of high culture is somewhat surprising. Meanwhile Pentonville Road was a genuine 18th century intervention, part of possibly the world's first bypass, built to keep market-bound livestock out of central London.
Thing I didn't know before: One of Islington's two remaining wells can be found just off the foyer inside Sadler's Wells Theatre - just ask to see it.
The best of the four tours for... a) local insight b) friendly banter c) number of attendees
What the guides usually do: Supposedly a weekly walk every Saturday, although the website suggests fewer more irregular outings.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21  Jun21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
ian visits
blue witch
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
the ladies who bus
round the rails we go
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel
from the murky depths
exploring urban wastelands

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
Inner London toilet map
The DG Tour of Britain

read the archive
Jun21  May21
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards