Charles Dickens London Walking Tour, London

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 tour will take you to the most notable places in Dickens' London.
You can follow this self-guided walking tour to explore the attractions listed below. How it works: download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Charles Dickens London Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Charles Dickens London Walking Tour
Guide Location: England » London (See other walking tours in London)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 8.0 km
Author: clare
Marshalsea Debtor's Prison

1) Marshalsea Debtor's Prison

The Marshalsea prison is where Dickens' father, John, spent three months in 1824 for failure to settle his debts. His wife, Elizabeth, along with their youngest children had to move in with him, while Charles lived on his own in a rented accommodation on nearby Lant Street. Dickens would go to The Marshalsea each morning to visit the family, which at that time survived only on his father's wages from a job at the Navy Pay Office. John Dickens was released from prison after he inherited some funds that helped him repay the debts. The novel "Little Dorrit" is set for the most part in and around The Marshalsea, serving as a testament to the profound despair Dickens suffered during that period of his life. What's left of the prison now is just crumbling remains surrounded by a public park laid out on its original site. A piece of The Marshalsea's wall with the entrance gate is still in place and is marked by a small commemorative plaque installed by the local authorities.
Doctors' Commons

2) Doctors' Commons

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 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 crime, Dickens' own account of this body of law is less benign and says much about Victorian society. There is a plaque set on the Faraday building on the north side of Queen Victoria Street marking the site on which the now demolished Doctors' Commons once stood.
Furnival's Inn

3) 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 debts in order to prevent him from going back to prison. Save misfortunes and scanty living, Dickens' life of that period is characterised by prolific production, creativity, and introduction into London's literary circles, as well as engagement and subsequent marriage to Catherine Hogarth. Today occupied by a series of office buildings, the site of Furnivale's Inn is presided over by a bust of Dickens and is marked with a plaque attesting to his presence.
Staple Inn

4) 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 a 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, institutions of the legal profession.

Chancery clerks met in different inns, which became the Inns of Chancery. 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, closely associated with Gray’s Inn.

In 1800 Staple Inn’s school closed down and the building became a lawyer’s social club until it was sold to the Prudential Assurance Company in 1886, who in turn leased it out to the Institute of Actuaries in 1887.

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 and Tudor and Stuart 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.
Grays Inn

5) Grays Inn

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. The Inn is known for its gardens, or Walks, which have existed since at least 1597. 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. 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 practise in England and Wales.

Having existed for over 600 years, Gray's Inn has a long list of notable members and honorary members. Even as the smallest of the Inns of Court it has had members who have been particularly noted lawyers and judges, such as Francis Bacon, F.E. Smith, Baron Slynn, Lord Bingham of Cornhill, Lord Hoffmann and others. Outside the Bar and judiciary of England and Wales, members have included the clergy (including five Archbishops of Canterbury), industrialists like John Wynne, astronomers such as John Lee, media figures, like Huw Thomas, and members of the Bar and judiciary of other nations, such as Yang Ti-liang (former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Hong Kong) and Aitzaz Ahsan (former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan).
48 Doughty Street

6) 48 Doughty Street

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 ensued fame which afforded the Dickenses the more spacious accommodation after their tight room at Furnival's Inn. They spent here 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 Dickens'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 at public readings of his works. Several days a week, visitors are allowed to physically handle the displayed items.
Lincoln's Inn Fields

7) Lincoln's Inn Fields

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 agents, Lindsey House, together with the neighbouring building at 57-58, which includes some features designed by Sir John Soane, including a geometric staircase, has become home to the leading civil liberties barristers' chambers, Garden Court Chambers.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Seven Dials

8) Seven Dials

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 it gave the locals something to talk about.

Eventually, as often happens, the “unsavoury elements” lost interest in the place and moved on to more prosperous areas, where the pickings were easier, and gradually the Seven Dials became a popular meeting place for students.

Pubs and shops were either renovated or opened around the pillar, which was replaced by a copy of the original in 1988. Today the area attracts millions of tourists every year, with Monmouth Street’s shops selling luxury goods, Earlham Street that sells fine vintage and street-style clothes; Short’s Garden where you will find Neale’s Yard Dairy, with its 50 varieties of cheeses, and Neale’s Yard itself with its Herbal Remedy shop and several great pubs, restaurants with music provided by street musicians.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Warren's Blacking

9) Warren's Blacking

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 there from February to June of 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—the Wellington House Academy—for another few years. The former location of Blacking factory is now occupied by London's Charing Cross Station.
Westminster Abbey

10) Westminster Abbey (must see)

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 towers were built between 1722 and 1745 by Nicholas Hawksmoor, constructed from Portland stone to an early example of a Gothic Revival design. The bells at the Abbey were overhauled in 1971. The two service bells and the 1320 bell, along with a fourth small silver "dish bell", kept in the refectory, have been noted as being of historical importance by the Church Buildings Council of the Church of England.

Why You Should Visit:
You can't deny the amazing architecture and history that you're confronted with when approaching this collection of buildings.
Final resting place of so many people that contributed to civilization both ancient and recent.

By all means get timed-entry tickets online (which include an audio guide).
Tell the attendances outside that you already have tickets, and you'll go right in.
Photos inside are not allowed, so you should visually absorb all you can.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Tue, Thu-Sat: 9:30am-3:30pm; Wed: 9:30am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in London, England

Create Your Own Walk in London

Create Your Own Walk in London

Creating your own self-guided walk in London is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Westminster Walk

Westminster Walk

London is deservedly recognized as one of the cultural centres of the world. Among many cultural treasures found here are perfectly reserved ancient buildings, grandiose monuments and beautiful statues, as well as museums with wide collections of various objects, featuring traditions of different nations and epochs. This self guided walking tour around Westminster area will reveal some of the most exciting London mysteries to you.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 km
Bridges of London

Bridges of London

Thirty-four bridges span the Thames in London. Each one has its own history and is worth seeing. Take this walking tour to appreciate the beauty of London bridges.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.1 km
South Bank Walk, Part 2

South Bank Walk, Part 2

Continue your cultural walk along the southern bank of the River Thames and enjoy the unique attractions it hosts. Buzzing with life and joy, London's South Bank will eagerly reveal all of its secrets. Take this tour and check it out yourself.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 km
London's Historic Pubs Walk

London's Historic Pubs Walk

If there’s anything more an iconic symbol for London than Big Ben or the London Eye, then it must be the traditional English pub and London is full of them, dating from pre-Victorian times to just about five minutes ago. With so much history surrounding London there is no shortage of historic pubs to choose from. Whether you fancy half timbered, rambling watering holes or small but perfectly formed pubs in central London you'll be spoilt for choice with the selection of historic pubs in the capital. Standard opening times are between 11am and 11pm (10:30pm on Sundays or on public holidays; Scottish pubs generally do not open on Sunday).

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.8 km
Harry Potter Walk in London

Harry Potter Walk in London

Harry Potter has transformed fantasy into a world dominating superpower. Increasingly more people all across the globe become Harry's fans. The blockbuster movies were set entirely in Britain at the author JK Rowling's request. This 6-hour tour will give you step by step directions of how to explore all the London locations used in the Harry Potter films.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 km
South Bank Walk, Part 1

South Bank Walk, Part 1

The South Bank is the area in London on the southern bank of the River Thames that houses a number of important cultural buildings and is always crowded with tourists. It is now one of London's most important cultural centers. Take this tour to reveal all of the South Bank secrets.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.0 km

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