Thursday, 21 August 2014

A tour of Naughty London by Best LDN Walks

I have long maintained that the best way to explore a city like London is on foot. Walking, you catch glimpses of things you'd never see whilst whizzing along a road on a bus or beneath the city in a Tube tunnel. You can change your route or your mind whenever you feel like it, taking an unexpected turning or heading down an alley you never noticed before. Frequently I come across things that cause me to stop and wonder: What happens in this building? Who lives in a house like this? What is this faded sign all about? 

Charlotte, imparting some grisly facts
about Tudor London
This week I met someone else who's had similar wonderings while exploring London. And she's recently built a business on informing the rest of us clueless wanderers. Charlotte Kennedy founded Best LDN Walks earlier this year, after quitting her day job as a guide on one of the city's bus tours. She found the patter filled with dreary dates and notable reformers wasn't interesting her, let alone her tour attendees, so she set out to design her own walking tours filled with fascinating facts about dodgy clerics, haunted alleyways and naughty royals. 

Charlotte had invited me and several other London bloggers along to experience one of her most popular tours, 'Naughty London: Sex, drugs and sausage rolls', which takes attendees around Southwark to explore London's seedy past. Charlotte welcomed us all on Tuesday evening with prosecco and excellent Ginger Pig sausage rolls, before taking us back in time to Tudor London; a time when public executions were considered a great night out and maggot-y meat pies were regarded as an epicurean delicacy. Filled in with a brief history of the city, illustrated by vivid descriptions and quotes from early Londoners, we were whisked across to Borough Market. Here, still swigging our leftover prosecco (we're a classy lot, us bloggers) we learned all kinds of stomach-churning facts about Tudor diets as well as the origins of numerous phrases we still use today. As Charlotte was loudly explaining the origin of a certain, highly satisfying four-letter swearword a group of blokes sauntering past suddenly looked rather keen to join our tour! 

Ribbons tied to the fence around the
Cross Bones Graveyard
No tour of the Borough and London Bridge area can be complete without a visit to the George. Some claim it is the oldest pub in London, but it certainly is the only galleried hostelry still left in the city. After peering at pictures of what it had once looked like, we headed round the corner to look up at the magnificent Hop Exchange, where ale-makers once traded the supplies that likely fuelled the debauchery back at the George.

Charlotte then led us away from the shadow of the monstrous Shard, down Southwark Street, to visit the Cross Bones Graveyard. Grubby ribbons decorate the fence around this sad-looking green space, bearing the names of the several thousand people, many of whom were prostitutes and paupers, tossed into an open grave on the small site several hundred years ago. It was a sobering place to consider. Quick to remedy this however, we were briskly ushered across the road to Boot & Flogger vintners, to top up our prosecco levels!

Heading back out on our tour, we made for the river next. London was looking pretty stunning under the dusky sky, so we all stopped for a compulsory photography session; which we then tweeted and Instagramed the hell out of, like the blogging pros we are. When we were all done, the extremely patient Charlotte led us down to Cardinal's Wharf. Despite a seemy heritage that Charlotte filled us in on, there is a very beautiful old house at Cardinal's Wharf, where the famed architect, Christopher Wren used to live. Telling us to swivel 180 degrees and look across the river, Charlotte showed us why he'd chosen this less than salubrious spot - it was directly opposite Wren's masterpiece, St Paul's Cathedral. Cue more photography...
Just the London skyline, no big deal
We made our way back along the Southbank, stopping off at the reconstructed Globe Theatre, and then making our way through the winding streets of Borough taking in an old prison, the original 'clink', en route. Ending our tour back where we started, beneath the arches of Borough Market, we walked past Southwark Cathedral, where Shakespeare's brother is buried, and the flat where Bridget Jones lived in the film 'Bridget Jones' Diary'. (From the sublime to the ridiculous, eh?) We thanked the knowledgeable and entertaining Charlotte for our wonderful evening, promising to check out some more of her walking tours. And anyone interested in learning more about this weird and wonderful city should really do the same! You can find details of her tours here. My eye is on the Haunted Pub Tour next. Creepy tales and pints, what could be better?

My tour was provided for free by Best LDN Walks, as part of a specified London blogger event. Any opinions expressed in the above post however are those of The Accidental Londoner alone. I do not endorse products or organisations that I don't or wouldn't use myself or recommend to a friend.

10 comments:

  1. Great post and photos. It was lovely to meet you the other night.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lisa. You too! I hope to bump into you at another one of these events soon...

      Delete
  2. I am glad that you call it the monstrous Shard, it gives me hope for the world to know that someone else thinks so too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh but it really is! That building is a total beast. It's so huge, and so out of place next to some of the oldest buildings in the city. The Shard would be far more at home in Dubai or somewhere newer, built from steel and glass, not bricks and wood.

      Delete
  3. Ahhh I was so sad I couldn't make this. I LOVE walking tours of London and this sounds like it was a fab one :) x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, then sorry not to have got the chance to meet you too! It was a great evening, and an enlightening tour.

      Delete
  4. Alas it is a misconception that 49 Bankside, an 18th century house, is where Christopher Wren oversaw the construction of his masterpiece; unfortunately that house, a few yards upriver approximately where the Millennium Bridge now stands, was demolished. An excellent account of the last survivor of what was once a long ribbon of houses overlooking the Thames can be found in The House by the Thames by Gillian Tindall. I recommend it for all London bloggers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh, good intel! I'll pass that on to Charlotte. She says she gets a lot of her tour inspiration from books about the city so I'll suggest that book to her too. Thanks for sharing!

      Delete
  5. This is so cool! Let me know when you do your next walk!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Certainly shall! Shall email Charlotte and see if she's in need of another blogger to spread the word...am sure she'll be keen!

      Delete

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Pin It button on image hover