Tea at Ritz

Not Just Tea at the Ritz

6.00pm: Green Park tube (Piccadilly, Victoria and Jubilee lines) outside Stratton Street exit

Next walks: Wednesday 06 September

On Richard's walk around Mayfair he tells the story of London's grand hotels: how one of the world's grandest hotels was founded by two embezzlers, which hotel became a refuge for deposed European monarchs and why one hotel was "bomb-proof, earthquake proof and fire proof".


Amid the opulence, hear about the historic figures, world events and workers' protests which are all part of the story. We also bring you espionage, assassination and the mafia. Weaving through the fine streets of Mayfair and covering some of the history of this area, the walk takes in three lovely green spaces.


Please note that, much as we would love to, Trails of the City is not rich enough to buy everybody tea at the Ritz. You are, of course, welcome to indulge at your own expense after the walk!

Guided by Richard

Senate House

Source: Wikipedia

1984 London

7:00pm: Meet at Portico of All Souls Church by BBC Broadcasting House - Oxford Circus tube (Bakerloo/Victoria/Central lines)

Next walks: Saturday 21 October, Saturday 28 October

Not the 1984 some of us remember, of course, all spiky hair and synthesisers. No, this trail explores George Orwell's dystopian nightmare: the world of Big Brother, the Thought Police and Room 101.


Our walk starts at BBC Broadcasting House and passes through the streets of Fitzrovia and Bloomsbury, well known to Orwell and inspiration for many of the scenes in the novel. Along the route we re-examine the story of Winston Smith and his resistance to the all powerful Party, interspersed with short readings. We also discuss whether the book actually has a happy ending! The walk ends at the Senate House after which we'll all adjourn to a decidedly non-totalitarian cafe/pub for refreshment.


Trails of the City runs this walk in association with the Footprints of London Literary Festival.

The walk costs £12.00 (£9.00 concession).


Guided by Steve

Sailing to Soho

Soho: London’s Great Melting Pot

Meet at Tottenham Court Road tube (Central line, Piccadilly line), exit 1, on Oxford Street, opposite the Flying Horse pub. Walk lasts just under 2 hours.
Next walks: No scheduled walks at present - please contact us for a group booking

Foreigners flocked to Soho from its beginings: French, Italians, Germans, Dutch, Chinese and many others brought their crafts, culture, style and sometimes scandal to Soho’s streets. While Britain is leaving the EU, Richard’s walk celebrates 350 years of Soho immigration. We hear about great success stories, personal stories behind big historic events and meet larger-than-life characters including one reckless “king”! The walk takes in Soho Square, an atmospheric graveyard, an unexpectedly lovely period street and some of Soho’s iconic eating and drinking venues. We end up, of course, in one of the latter!


Guided by Richard

York Watergate

London's Lost Palaces

Meet at Temple Tube (District/Circle Lines)

Next walks: No scheduled walks at present - please contact us for a group booking

Explore London's medieval Beverly Hills...


Though it is hard to believe today, the Strand was once lined with opulent palaces, their fragrant gardens stretching down to the Thames. Over the centuries a notorious parade of bishops, aristocrats and kings inhabited these grand residences. Know where to look, and traces of these ancient palaces remain: abandoned watergates, ancient chapels, mysterious sunken baths and more!


Guided by Steve

Swinging Carnaby Street

1966: The Year of Swinging London

Meet at Oxford Circus tube (Victoria, Central and Bakerloo lines), exit 4, North side of Regent Street, West side of Oxford Street, outside H&M shop.
Next walks: No scheduled walks at present - please contact us for a group booking

It was 1966 and London was exploding with new, young, cutting edge movements in music, fashion, film and photography. America’s Time magazine called London “the swinging city”! And to cap it all there were the joyous events in July on a football field at Wembley.


However, just how much was London really swinging? Homelessness and poverty were big problems in a still largely bombed-out city. Protests raged in the streets about American military action in Vietnam. Disturbing gangster crime was rife. Let Richard take you back to the streets and alleys of Soho and Mayfair to hear the story of 1966 and Swinging London.


Guided by Richard

Resting peacefully?

Westminster Ghost Trail

Meet at Embankment Tube - Embankment Place exit (Circle/District/Bakerloo/Northern Lines)
Meet near flower stall on Charing Cross (not river) side of the station

Next walks: No scheduled walks at present - please contact us for a group booking

On long winter nights, Westminster's dead become restless...


Pale faces press against darkened windows, footsteps pace through empty rooms and there is a lingering smell of old blood. Join us for stories of long-dead celebrities, headless wraiths and mysterious doppelgangers, as lost souls gather along the banks of the Thames and throng the narrow streets around Covent Garden and the Strand. Believers and sceptics equally welcome! Includes one spooky pub stop.


Guided by Steve

Senate House

Source: Wikipedia

1984 London

Meet at Portico of All Souls Church by BBC Broadcasting House - Oxford Circus tube (Bakerloo/Victoria/Central lines)

Next walks: No scheduled walks at present - please contact us for a group booking

Not the 1984 some of us remember, of course, all spiky hair and synthesisers. No, this trail explores George Orwell's dystopian nightmare: the world of Big Brother, the Thought Police and Room 101.


Our walk starts at BBC Broadcasting House and passes through the streets of Fitzrovia and Bloomsbury, well known to Orwell and inspiration for many of the scenes in the novel. Along the route we re-examine the story of Winston Smith and his resistance to the all powerful Party, interspersed with short readings. We also discuss whether the book actually has a happy ending! The walk ends at the Senate House after which we'll all adjourn to a decidedly non-totalitarian cafe/pub for refreshment.



Guided by Steve

Guards Division War Memorial, Horse Guards Parade

London, The War and 1916

Meet at St James's Park tube (Circle and District lines) Broadway exit, opposite the Star pub
Next walks: No scheduled walks at present - please contact us for a group booking

1916 was a momentous year in the First World War. The Battle of the Somme loomed large in the public consciousness due to the appalling numbers of young lives lost. A new British Commander-in-Chief took over and the Prime Minister was replaced, while conscription and rationing were also introduced that year.


At the centenary of the Somme, Richard takes in the war memorials and important sites in Whitehall and around St James's Park to tell the story of these events. He explores how the war began to impact on Londoners with Zeppelins darkening the skies and anti-German riots on the streets.


Guided by Richard

Quintin Hogg and Friends

London’s Ragged and Reformers

Meet at Baker Street tube (Circle, Bakerloo, Jubilee, Metropolitan and Hammersmith and City lines), Marylebone Road exit, by the Sherlock Holmes statue.

Next walks: No scheduled walks at present - please contact us for a group booking

London in the nineteenth century became the largest city in the world and the centre of the greatest empire in history. However, not everyone shared the glory!


Richard’s walk through Marylebone uncovers the underbelly of Victorian London: the slum housing, the workhouse, the hard lives of the street kids. We meet the heroic men and women who worked to improve the lot of the poor: from a chimney sweep turned property magnate to those who taught the semi-criminal, ragged children to a grand statesman obsessed with prostitutes. The walk also takes in some lovely green spaces, characterful Victorian social housing, a fine church and some attractive mewses.


Guided by Richard

Power and Gloriana? Queen Elizabeth 1 statue, Fleet Street. Formerly on the Ludgate.

Players and Plotters

Meet at Blackfriars Tube, in front of The Black Friar Pub opposite station(District/Circle Lines)

Next walks: No scheduled walks at present - please contact us for a group booking

To celebrate Shakespeare's 400th anniversary, Trails of the City are pleased to run our walk starring The Bard and a host of other Elizabethan characters, from the brilliant to the nefarious.


Consider London in the time of the first Queen Elizabeth: players in tights, huge ruffs, dodgy beards, power and Gloriana all spiced up with a hey and a ho and (we fear) a hey-nonny-no. Right?


In fact, this was a time of great paranoia, where an army of spies operated in the shadows behind the throne, their mission to keep the Queen safe from threats both real and imagined.


This walk considers some of the myths about the last years of Elizabeth's reign and explores the paranoid London of the late sixteenth century, where actors, religious fanatics and nobility indulged in treasonable activities a-plenty. Passing westwards along the line of Fleet Street, the walk also takes in a number of buildings which, amazingly, still survive from this turbulent period.


Guided by Steve

A Trafalgar Square Travesty

Trafalgar Square Travesty

Meet at Outside Charing Cross mainline station and tube (Northern and Bakerloo lines) in forecourt of Charing Cross hotel and by the Eleanor Cross

Next walks: No scheduled walks at present - please contact us for a group booking

It is one of the most famous town squares in the world. It has hosted many prestigious national celebrations and it lies at the geographical centre of London.


However, just how well do you know Trafalgar Square? Its construction was slow and dogged by controversial incidents; it is adorned by three of the most unpopular British kings and some rather dodgy, little known generals; the square's history is also marked by polluting pigeons and political protests!


This is a one-hour, tongue-in-cheek walk around Trafalgar Square. All proceeds will go to the Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields whose fine edifice has been a constant presence over the Square. The Connectionwww.connection-at-stmartins.org.ukdoes fantastic work to help get homeless people back on their feet.


Guided by Richard

Great Fire of Westminster

"The Great Fire of Westminster"

Meet at Westminster tube outside exit 4 (District/Circle/Jubilee lines)

Next walks: No scheduled walks at present - please contact us for a group booking

Everyone’s heard about The Great Fire of London, but who's heard of the Great Fire of Westminster? An epic blaze in 1834 which destroyed the Houses of Parliament! During the month of the anniversary of the fire, which happened on 16 October, Trails of the City brings you the story of that apocalyptic night. We walk around the streets and onto the bridge where thousands gawped at the destruction in horror and awe. An event marked equally by farce as by acts of heroism, the fire took place on the cusp of the Victorian age. And arising from the flames... the iconic, though now somewhat dilapidated, Houses of Parliament we know today. Parliament is advising that the current building will require nearly £6bn over 30 years to repair!

Come and hear the greatest fire story hardly ever told! This walk also featured on BBC Radio.


Guided by Richard and Steve jointly

Tom Cribb - The Bare Knuckle King

The Extreme Pleasures of Wellington’s London

Meet at Green Park tube (Victoria, Piccadilly and Jubilee lines), the Park side by the Diana of the Treetops statue.

Next walks: No scheduled walks at present - please contact us for a group booking

The Battle of Waterloo in 1815 marked the end of a series of great wars determining the fate of Europe and established the balance of power for the next 100 years.


Meanwhile, London society indulged in extravagant diversions: gambling which could lead to rack and ruin, outrageous balls known as “routs” and public exhibitions which degenerated into virtual riots. Fierce, bare-knuckle boxing became a defining expression of British culture.


Richard’s “alternative” Waterloo anniversary walk around St James’s explores these Regency entertainments and more, whilst showing Wellington’s stomping grounds and places where the battle was reported and commemorated.


Guided by Richard

Mr Gill's masterpiece

Mr Gill's Precious Ornament (and Other Curiosities)

Meet at Oxford Circus tube (Central, Bakerloo and Victoria lines) Exit 6, Argyll Street, opposite the Argyll Arms

Next walks: No scheduled walks at present - please contact us for a group booking

Our Trails guide, Richard, has sought out the secrets and scandals of times gone by in the streets around Oxford Circus and has found: a secret tunnel, a toilet becoming a posh bar, an over-sexed sculptor, a murderous doctor and a royal processional route connecting one palace which was never built to another which was demolished!


You couldn't make it up so it all must be true.


This is a light-hearted look at London history with everyone invited to a characterful London pub after. This walk is based on the Westminster Guides Association walk for London Guiding Day.


Guided by Richard

Healers and Hoaxers

Source: Wikipedia

Healers and Hoaxers

Meet at Royal College of Physicians (RCP), Great Portland Street tube (Circle, Metropolitan and H'smith and City)

Next walks: No scheduled walks at present - please contact us for a group booking

This walk explores Harley Street and surrounds where the line between what constitutes a medical healer or a hoaxer can sometimes become rather blurred!


See the rooms of Lionel Logue, the speech therapist made famous in the 2010 film "The King's Speech". Meet Dr Frederick "Elephant Man" Treves and his distinguished colleague Dr Lister.


Finally, throw in cameos from a renowned lady with a lamp, a doctor whose writing skills became considerably more celebrated than his medical abilities and, hiss, a fiendish fraud dubbed "The King of the Quacks".


Guided by Richard or Steve

Banqueting House

Source: Wikipedia

Return of the King

Meet at Westminster tube outside Exit 4 (District/Circle/Jubilee lines)

Next walk: No scheduled walks at present - please contact us for a group booking

The Restoration 1660: a very merry monarch with his glamorous mistresses, flamboyant court and strange “touching” ceremonies. A new power settlement, the flourishing of science and the the start of London's transformation from a medieval to a modern city.


Our walk leads you through the dramatic first decade of Charles II's reign, its great characters and nation-changing events. We visit the sites where it all happened: from Banqueting House to Burlington House, taking in Whitehall and the gorgeous St James's Square.


Guided by Richard

St James's Park

Palaces, Pelicans and Prostitutes

Meet at St James's Park Tube, exit opposite Old Star Pub (District/Circle Lines)

Next walks: No scheduled walks at present - please contact us for a group booking

St James's is a very royal area: it has three palaces and is steeped in military history and royal pageantry.


However, let Trails of the City show you St James's darker side where leprous women feed their pigs, a king walks to his death and "night common prostitutes" ply their trade. Includes a supporting cast of royal dogs, crocodiles and pelicans.


Guided by Richard

Marylebone

The Mad World of Marylebone

Meet at Marble Arch tube, go through subway tunnel and meet outside Exit 3 (Central Line)

Next walk: No scheduled walks at present - please contact us for a group booking

Ah, Marylebone... a charming urban village, alive with classical squares, boutique shops and exclusive restaurants. Over the centuries, this area has also attracted an eclectic mix of scientists, writers, artists - and eccentrics.


On our walk we meet the Duchess dubbed “The Queen from Hell”, a grumpy scientist driven mad by street music and areas where highwaymen both plied their trade and met their fate!


Guided by Richard

Westminster Abbey

Photograph by Christina Rickman

Towers of Power

Meet at St James's Park Tube, exit opposite Old Star Pub (District/Circle Lines)

Next walk: No scheduled walks at present - please contact us for a group booking

How much do you really know about the Houses of Parliament? This trail reviews the site's turbulent history - its evolution from Palace to Parliament with all the revolutions, plots, fires and smells along the way. We also explore nearby Whitehall... drawn by the power which emanates from the famous buildings there. And let's not forget ancient Westminster Abbey, once a sanctuary for criminals, now the haunt of politicians and celebrities. Has anything really changed?


Please note that the walk does not go into either Westminster Abbey or the Houses of Parliament since both buildings have their own arrangements for those wishing to visit. However, there's plenty to see outside, we promise!
Guided by Steve

Bluecoat Boy

In The Shadows of Victoria Street

Meet at Victoria Tube - meet at Wilton Road Exit by Costa (Victoria/District/Circle Lines)

Next walk: No scheduled walks at present - please contact us for a group booking

Victoria Street: just a monotonous parade of glass and steel? A window cleaner's paradise? Not so.


Our trail uncovers a world of Victorian squalor, social protest and upheaval, London's "forgotten" cathedral, an art deco masterpiece and possibly the best surviving Georgian street in London.


Guided by Richard