Charles Dickens Tour, London

Charles Dickens Tour (Self Guided), London

Today's world's literature and mass culture are hardly imaginable without the works of Charles Dickens, recognized as the greatest British novelist of the Victorian era. A pioneer of “cliffhanger” endings, Dickens remains one of the most-read English authors whose writings never go out of print and have been repeatedly adapted to stage, screen and TV.

Dickens was born in Portsmouth in 1812, but moved to London at the age of 12. Many of his novels are set in the capital which he knew well and much loved. While some of the identifiable London locations associated with Dickens no longer exist, there are quite a few of them still in place.

Charles Dickens Museum at 48 Doughty Street is where some of his best works, namely: Oliver Twist, The Pickwick Papers, and Nicholas Nickleby, were penned. A noted drinker Dickens frequented a good number of pubs, including Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese in Fleet Street, of which he was a patron. Safron Hill, formerly the infamous slum nicknamed the ‘little Hell’, is where Dickens set part of Oliver Twist. Newgate Prison, Cheapside appear in 8 of Dickens's novels, while St. Paul's Cathedral in 13.

If you wish to follow in the footsteps of the great author and his characters throughout the British capital, take this self-guided walking tour!
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store 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 Tour Map

Guide Name: Charles Dickens Tour
Guide Location: England » London (See other walking tours in London)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 15
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.5 Km or 2.8 Miles
Author: clare
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Charles Dickens Museum
  • Gray's Inn
  • Staple Inn
  • Furnival's Inn (Dickens' former residence)
  • Barnard's Inn (Dickens-era site)
  • Dickens House at 15 Took's Court
  • Middle Temple
  • Ye Olde Chesire Cheese
  • Safron Hill (Dickens-era site)
  • Cock Lane (Dickens-era site)
  • Holy Sepulchre Church
  • Newgate Prison (Dickens-era site)
  • St. Paul's Cathedral
  • Cheapside
  • Lombard Street (Dickens-era site)
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Charles Dickens Museum

1) Charles Dickens Museum

Spread over the four floors of a typical Georgian terraced house on a private street in an affluent part of London, this museum holds the world's grandest collection of artifacts connected to Charles Dickens' life and work, including letters, paintings, rare editions, manuscripts, original furniture, and various other items. This historic dwelling was the last remaining London residence of the Dickens family, spared from demolition thanks to the Dickens Fellowship, which transformed it into a museum in 1925.

Following the successful publication of his first two works, Dickens and his wife, Catherine Hogarth, moved to this residence in 1837 shortly after their marriage. They resided in the house for a span of two years, during which Dickens penned "Oliver Twist" and "Nicholas Nickleby" and embarked on "Barnaby Rudge". Notably, Catherine gave birth to two children in one of the bedrooms, and her younger sister tragically passed away in Dickens' arms. This poignant event served as inspiration for numerous characters in Dickens' novels and was fictionalized as the death of Little Nell in "The Old Curiosity Shop".

The museum offers a faithful representation of the house in its lived-in state, with much of the furniture having once belonged to Dickens himself. Visitors can also view a variety of portraits, including the unfinished "Dickens' Dream", which depicts the author in his study at Gads Hill Place, surrounded by the many characters he created. Another significant exhibit is Dickens' desk, which he used during public readings of his works. Additionally, the museum hosts special exhibitions and features a charming café with a garden.

Tip:
Several days a week, visitors are allowed to physically handle the displayed items.
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Gray's Inn

2) Gray's Inn

Gray's Inn is one of the Inns of Court – historic societies that educate and train barristers. In order to practice as a barrister in England and Wales, individuals must be affiliated with one of these inns, which also include Lincoln's Inn, the Inner Temple, and the Middle Temple. The governance of Gray's Inn is overseen by a council called "Pension", made up of the Masters of the Bench (or "benchers") and led by the Treasurer, who is elected for a one-year term. The Inn is renowned for its gardens, ("the "Walks"), which date back at least to 1597.

Law clerks and their apprentices have been present on the current site since at least 1370. Throughout the 15th and 16th centuries, Gray's Inn expanded in size, reaching its peak during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The Inn served as the residence of many prominent barristers and politicians, including Francis Bacon, and even had Queen Elizabeth herself as a patron. Due to the efforts of its distinguished members, Gray's Inn became the largest of the four Inns in terms of membership, with over 200 barristers. During this era, the Inn hosted masques and revels, with Shakespeare's "Comedy of Errors" believed to have had its initial performance in Gray's Inn Hall.

Charles Dickens briefly played with the idea of pursuing a legal career and, in May 1827, started working as a junior clerk of Ellis and Blackmore which had offices at Gray's Inn. Whilst here, he learned the Gurney system of shorthand in his spare time, a skill that later proved invaluable to him as a reporter and writer. Dickens remained at Gray's Inn until November 1828 when he transitioned to become a parliamentary reporter and subsequently penned "Sketches by Boz" (his journalistic pen name) and "The Pickwick Papers", the two works that propelled him to fame in 1836. He made reference to the Inn in several of his novels, including "David Copperfield" and the aforementioned "The Pickwick Papers".
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Staple Inn

3) Staple Inn

Towering above Chancery Lane underground station, on the southern side of High Holborn, stands a somewhat askew Tudor-style wooden structure known as Staple Inn. Its overhanging half-timbered façade and gables originate from the 16th century and are the most extensive of their kind in all of London. Remarkably, they withstood the Great Fire but required extensive reconstruction after the Blitz.

A narrow passageway tucked beneath the building leads into an inner courtyard, a place vividly depicted by Charles Dickens in his final, unfinished novel "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" as a "little nook composed of two irregular quadrangles". It was within this enclave that Mr. Grewgious, a prominent character in the novel, resided. Dickens's literary descriptions of this space remain accurate to this day: "It is one of those nooks, the entrance to which from the bustling street imparts to the relieved pedestrian the sensation of having placed cotton in his ears and velvet soles on his boots."

During the late 1820s, Dickens was well-acquainted with this courtyard as he worked in a solicitor's office on the opposite side of High Holborn at Gray's Inn, one of the four Inns of Court. Contrary to the modern connotation of the term "inn" as a public house or tavern, an Inn of Court refers to a professional organization and a residential school for aspiring lawyers. Dickens also had a daily view of this 7-gabled roof building when he later embarked on his career as a journalist.
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Furnival's Inn (Dickens' former residence)

4) Furnival's Inn (Dickens' former residence)

Furnival's Inn, formerly located at the site of the current Holborn Bars building, was an Inn of Chancery – a less prestigious counterpart to the Inns of Court. Its establishment dates back to around 1383 when William de Furnival, 4th Lord Furnival, leased a boarding facility to Clerks of Chancery. These clerks were responsible for preparing writs for the king's courts and were aided by apprentices who received initial legal training. This arrangement persisted until 1817 when the Society of Furnival's Inn was dissolved. Subsequently, the medieval building was demolished, and in its place, a new block of flats was erected in 1818-1820, retaining the old name.

From 1834 to 1837, Charles Dickens, along with his brother Frederick, made their residence at Furnival's Inn. This decision was born out of necessity, as Dickens had to repay his father's debts to prevent him from returning to prison. Despite living in modest conditions, Dickens experienced a highly productive period during his stay at the Inn. Whilst lodging at the inn, he commenced work on "The Pickwick Papers", gained access to London's most influential literary circles, and eventually married Catherine Hogarth.

In Charles Dickens's novel "Martin Chuzzlewit," the character John Westlock also resides in Furnival's Inn and provides a description of the place: "a shady, quiet place, echoing to the footsteps of the stragglers who have business there; and rather monotonous and gloomy on summer evenings. ... there are snug chambers in those Inns where the bachelors live, and, for the desolate fellows they pretend to be, it is quite surprising how well they get on."

To commemorate Dickens's time at Furnival's Inn, a bust and a plaque have been installed, bearing witness to his presence there.
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Barnard's Inn (Dickens-era site)

5) Barnard's Inn (Dickens-era site)

In 1454, Lionel Barnard was the occupant of this place, hence its name. It stands as one of the former Inns of Chancery in Holborn and holds connections to Charles Dickens and his literary works. In "Great Expectations," the protagonist Pip resided in Barnard's Inn with Herbert Pocket for several years upon his arrival in London, around 1820.

In his novel, Dickens describes Barnard's as "the dingiest collection of shabby buildings ever squeezed together in a rank corner as a club for Tom-cats."; "A flat burying-ground [with] the most dismal trees in it, and the most dismal sparrows, and the most dismal cats, and the most dismal houses... the windows of the sets of chambers into which those houses were divided, were in every stage of dilapidated blind and curtain, crippled flower-pot, cracked glass, dusty decay, and miserable makeshift; while To Let To Let To Let, glared from empty rooms, as if no new wretches ever came there, and the vengeance of the soul of Barnard were being slowly appeased by the gradual suicide of the present occupants and their unholy internment under the gravel."

The structures comprise a hall with 18th-century chambers and reception rooms, boasting remarkable architectural features such as 15th-century wooden bays, 16th-century linen-fold wood paneling, and the sole surviving crown posts in Greater London. Since 1991, Gresham College has been situated here, serving as a venue for public lectures.
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Dickens House at 15 Took's Court

6) Dickens House at 15 Took's Court

Constructed in 1720 and named after Thomas Tooke of London Esquyre, this residence served as Dickens' dwelling during his tenure as a parliamentary journalist. According to a 2016 article in the Evening Standard, it was at this location that Dickens is believed to have conceived the character of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge for his famous work "A Christmas Carol", purportedly drawing inspiration from his frugal neighbor. This intriguing tidbit was attributed to Gryphon Property Partners, who affixed a £2.8 million price tag to the building.

In Dickens' novel "Bleak House," this location underwent a name change to Cook's Court and served as the workplace of the contemplative law stationer Mr. Snagsby, who "dealt in all sorts of blank forms of legal process; in skins and rolls of parchment; in paper—foolscap, brief, draft, brown, white, whitey-brown, and blotting; in stamps; in office-quills, pens, ink, India-rubber, pounce, pins, pencils, sealing-wax, and wafers; in red tape and green ferret; in pocket-books, almanacs, diaries, and law lists; in string boxes, rulers, inkstands—glass and leaden—pen-knives, scissors, bodkins, and other small office-cutlery; in short, in articles too numerous to mention." He was "the high standard of comparison among neighboring wives, a long way down Chancery Lane on both sides."
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Middle Temple

7) Middle Temple

Temple's collection of courtyards and structures encompasses two of the four Inns of Court: Middle Temple and Inner Temple. Its name has its roots in the Knights Templar, a noble order that had its headquarters here during medieval times, and it is believed that their initiations occurred in the crypt of Temple Church. Erected in the 12th century and under the care of the Inns since 1608, the church showcases a remarkable Elizabethan organ in the chancel and 13th-century effigies of the Knights Templar within the circular Round.

Entering Middle Temple feels akin to stepping back in time to Dickensian London. Dickens himself described it as follows: "You can read on its gates: 'Who enters here leaves noise behind.'" Over the centuries, a host of historical figures, including Sir Walter Raleigh, William Makepeace Thackeray, and Charles Dickens himself, held membership in Middle Temple.

Among the other historic structures in Temple, Middle Temple Hall stands out as perhaps the finest example of an Elizabethan Hall in London. It measures over 100 feet in length and 40 feet in width, featuring a magnificent double hammer-beam roof and walls adorned with ornate Coats of Arms and splendid oil paintings. While predominantly used by Middle Temple members, access to the general public is typically limited to invitation-only events and concerts. In close proximity to the hall lies Fountain Court, exuding a monastic ambiance, where law students often dine. Dickens even mentioned the fountain in "Martin Chuzzlewit".

Another lovely locale is Garden Court, a leafy square with a view of the Thames, immortalized in "Great Expectations". This is where Pip, the protagonist, resided when the convict Abel Magwitch arrived one fateful night to disclose a life-altering secret. In the novel, Pip describes, "We lived at the top of the last house, and the wind rushing up the river shook the house that night, like discharges of cannon or breakings of a sea". On that tempestuous night, Pip receives a message at the Temple gate: "Don't go home." But, of course, he does...
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Ye Olde Chesire Cheese

8) Ye Olde Chesire Cheese

Arguably one of London's most iconic public houses, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese has been around since the days of Pepys and Wren. It has earned renown for its literary associations, having counted luminaries such as Samuel Johnson, G.K. Chesterton, Mark Twain, George Orwell, and Charles Dickens among its regular patrons at various points in history. Established in 1538, it stands as one of London's oldest pubs, rebuilt shortly after the Great Fire of 1666. Some sections of its lower cellars predate even these ancient origins.

The edifice once served as a monastery, resulting in a labyrinthine network of chambers, cellars, and tunnels beneath its surface. Above ground, the pub offers a wood-paneled dining room and a cozy bar, typically strewn with sawdust on the floor. Located on Fleet Street, a historic hub for Britain's major newspapers, 'the Cheese' has long been a favored retreat for weary journalists seeking sustenance.

Dickens had been known to frequent this place, and it is alluded to in his work "A Tale of Two Cities": following Charles Darnay's acquittal on charges of high treason, Sydney Carton invites him to dine, "drawing his arm through his own". Carton leads him to Fleet Street "up a covered way, into a tavern … where Charles Darnay was soon recruiting his strength with a good plain dinner and good wine".

Currently under the ownership of Sam Smith's Old Brewery, this pub provides an unmissable opportunity to immerse oneself in the historic watering-hole ambiance of London's past, following in the footsteps of literary giants (as well as many less celebrated imbibers). The ambiance is alluringly dim yet unexpectedly welcoming.
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Safron Hill (Dickens-era site)

9) Safron Hill (Dickens-era site)

Once at the heart of London’s most infamous "rookeries" (or slums), Saffron Hill will forever be linked with Charles Dickens' 1838 novel "Oliver Twist", particularly through one of its lead characters, the arch-criminal Fagin.

Back in the 19th century, Saffron Hill was known as the Italian quarter, deriving its name from the saffron once cultivated in the area, although this saffron had vanished by the time Dickens penned his novel. Beyond being Fagin's hideout, the street is also home to the salubrious pub The Three Cripples, a favored watering hole of Bill Sikes, the primary antagonist in "Oliver Twist". During Dickens's era, The Three Cripples was apparently the name of a lodging house in Saffron Hill, located next to a pub named The One Tun.

This area also served as the inspiration for another, albeit smaller, Dickensian masterpiece, "A Christmas Carol". The inspiration struck during a visit to a destitute local school in September 1843, where he was profoundly affected by the harrowing conditions he encountered. The children were already mired in lives of thievery and prostitution, grappling with illiteracy, disease, and squalor.

Describing the wretchedness of the neighbourhood in "Oliver Twist", Dickens portrayed it as "a dirtier and more wretched place he [Oliver] had never seen. The street was very narrow and muddy, and the air was impregnated with filthy odours... Covered ways and yards, which here and there diverged from the main street, disclosed little knots of houses, where drunken men and women were positively wallowing in filth; and from several of the door-ways, great ill-looking fellows were cautiously emerging, bound, to all appearance, on no very well-disposed or harmless errands."
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Cock Lane (Dickens-era site)

10) Cock Lane (Dickens-era site)

This narrow street within the City of London likely derived its name from its historical association with cockfighting, a popular sport during the 17th and 18th centuries. In earlier times, during the Middle Ages, the street was called Cokkes Lane and and was known for hosting legal brothels. In 1762, 25 Cock Lane became infamous as the site of a well-known fake supernatural occurrence, famously referred to as the "Cock Lane Ghost", a term later used generically for fictional ghost stories.

Charles Dickens, who had a fascination with ghosts, likely influenced by his childhood nursemaid Mary Weller, made references to the Cock Lane Ghost in some of his works in "Nicholas Nickleby", as Mrs. Nickleby, one of the novel's lead characters and a source of much of its comic relief, claims that her great-grandfather "went to school with the Cock-lane Ghost" and that she knew "the master of his school was a Dissenter, and that would in a great measure account for the Cock-lane Ghost's behaving in such an improper manner to the clergyman when he grew up." Dickens also briefly alluded to the ghost in "Dombey and Son" and "A Tale of Two Cities", where Jerry Cruncher of Tellson's Bank moonlights as a body snatcher.

Aside from the ghost, Cock Lane had another claim to fame: it marked the stopping point of the Great Fire in 1666, where it intersected with Giltspur Street, formerly known as Pye Corner. This historic event is now commemorated by the Golden Boy of Pye Corner.
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Holy Sepulchre Church

11) Holy Sepulchre Church

For centuries, the Holy Sepulchre Church, once set across from the infamous Newgate prison, chilled many a soul of passers-by for centuries as its bell marked the time of impending executions. Tolling at eight o'clock in the morning signaled that executions were scheduled for that day, a detail duly observed by Charles Dickens in "Oliver Twist". Prior to 1783 when public hangings were relocated to Newgate, condemned criminals were transported past the church to Tyburn. There, every death cart halted, and the prisoners were presented with a small bouquet of flowers.

For nearly 140 years, a more macabre tradition persisted, whereby a bellman was employed to go through a tunnel connecting the church to Newgate on the night before an execution. Upon giving "twelve solemn towles with double strokes" on his handbell, he recited the following words: "All you that in the condemned hold do lie, Prepare you, for tomorrow you shall die; Watch all and pray, the hour is drawing near That you before the Almighty must appear; Examine well yourselves, in time repent, That you may not to eternal flames be sent: And when Sepulchre's bell tomorrow tolls, The Lord above have mercy on your souls. Past twelve o'clock!"

This custom finally faded into history with the demolition of Newgate prison in 1902 to make way for the Old Bailey; however, the very handbell that once added to the despair of the condemned can still be seen, enclosed in a display case on one of the church's pillars.

Today, the church is known as the "Musicians' Church" and includes a chapel dedicated to musicians. It hosts a vibrant program of free lunchtime piano recitals, chamber music, and organ concerts on Thursdays, as well as paid evening performances.
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Newgate Prison (Dickens-era site)

12) Newgate Prison (Dickens-era site)

A notorious prison that once stood on the corner of Old Bailey and Newgate Street, at the original site of a gate in the Roman London Wall, Newgate was London's main prison infamous for public executions held outside, drawing massive crowds. Built in 1188 and eventually demolished in 1902, the prison underwent numerous extensions and rebuilds during its extensive 700-plus-year history.

Dickens held a lifelong fascination with prisons and vehemently advocated for executions to be conducted within prison walls. He witnessed the realization of this legislation when it was finally enacted in 1868. Passionate social critic as he was, Dickens visited Newgate on multiple occasions. On July 6, 1840, he, along with his friend and fellow writer William Makepeace Thackeray, attended a public hanging of François Benjamin Courvoisier.

Dickens also mentions Newgate in a number of his works, namely:
- in the 1836 sketch titled "A Visit to Newgate" (written for inclusion in the collection "Sketches by Boz");
- in the novel "Oliver Twist", he vividly describes Fagin's last night alive in Newgate and Oliver's witnessing his hanging;
- in "Barnaby Rudge", characters Hugh, Dennis, and Barnaby find themselves imprisoned at Newgate in cells that have been refitted after the prison was destroyed during the Gordon Riots in 1780;
- in "Great Expectations”, Wemmick and Pip visit the prison while Pip is awaiting Estella's arrival in London.
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St. Paul's Cathedral

13) St. Paul's Cathedral (must see)

For centuries, this iconic structure has symbolized London's enduring spirit of survival and rejuvenation, captivating visitors both inside and outside its grand walls. Sir Christopher Wren embarked on the design of the present-day cathedral in 1666, immediately following the destruction of the prior medieval building, founded in 1087, during the Great Fire. This historical context is evident in the inscription "resurgam" ("I shall rise again") on the pediment of the south entrance. Saint Paul's Cathedral once more became a symbol of the city's resilience during the Blitz, as local volunteers bravely fought to extinguish a fire on the dome (though despite their efforts, a significant portion of the building's eastern end and its high altar were lost). It has frequently served as the backdrop for momentous state events, including Winston Churchill's funeral and the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

Construction commenced in 1675 and took 35 years to complete. Interestingly, this was Wren's third architectural proposal: the initial design was rejected for being too modern, while the second was deemed too modern and too influenced by Italian (Catholic) architecture. The "Great Model" of this second design, a 20-foot representation, can be seen in the crypt. In a compromise with the Anglican clergy, Wren included a traditional English spire but ultimately installed a neoclassical triple-layered dome, the second-largest cathedral dome globally after Saint Peter's in Rome.

The cathedral's interior showcases a remarkable example of English Baroque design. Ascend 257 steps up the meticulously engineered Geometric Staircase, a stone spiral marvel, to reach the Whispering Gallery, named so because a whisper against one wall can be heard clearly on the wall 112 feet away. Another 119 steps lead to the Stone Gallery, encircling the dome's exterior and offering panoramic views of London. For those with a head for heights, an additional 152 steps lead to the small Golden Gallery, an observation deck at the dome's zenith. At 278 feet above the cathedral floor, it presents even more breathtaking vistas.

Descending to ground level, in the south choir aisle, rests the grave of John Donne, the poet who served as dean of Saint Paul's from 1621 until his passing in 1631. His marble effigy stands as the cathedral's oldest surviving memorial and one of the few to endure the Great Fire. The intricately carved figures on the nearby choir stall are the creations of master carver Grinling Gibbons, who also adorned Wren's great organ. Behind the high altar lies the American Memorial Chapel, dedicated to the 28,000 American GIs stationed in the UK during the Second World War. Notable figures interred in the crypt include the Duke of Wellington, Admiral Lord Nelson, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Henry Moore, and Wren himself. Aptly, the Latin epitaph above Wren's tomb reads, "Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you."

***CHARLES DICKENS TOUR***
Saint Paul's serves as a prominent backdrop in many of Dickens' novels. In "Master Humphrey’s Clock", for instance, he portrays Master Humphrey ascending to the summit of the cathedral, then the tallest structure in London, to relish the sweeping panorama of the city. He writes, "Draw but a little circle above the clustering house tops, and you shall have within its space, everything with its opposite extreme and contradiction, close beside." Another Dickens work, "David Copperfield", takes Peggotty to the top of Saint Paul's to savor the impressive views over London, a practice that visitors continue to enjoy to this day.

The vicinity surrounding this iconic cathedral was intimately known to Dickens, and he frequently visited for various reasons, including attendance at significant public events such as the Duke of Wellington's funeral in 1852.

***SHAKESPEARE WALK***
During Shakespeare's era, the vicinity around Saint Paul's was quite distinct from its present appearance. Beyond serving as the hub of religious, political, cultural, and social activity in the city, the Cathedral also played a pivotal role in London's book trade, significantly impacting the literary creations of that time. By the year 1600, Shakespeare had become the most widely published professional playwright, and the earliest versions of his plays, such as "Titus Andronicus", "Richard II", "Much Ado About Nothing", and "The Merchant of Venice", were all bought and sold in the vicinity of Saint Paul's Churchyard. It is highly probable that Shakespeare himself frequented the local bookstores in search of materials that could serve as source material for his own works. To a considerable extent, the atmosphere around Saint Paul's influenced the Bard's writing and played a significant role in its survival and reception.

***HARRY POTTER MOVIE***
Other than architecture and history buffs, nowadays Harry Potter fans also have their reason to visit Saint Paul's. The focal point of their interest lies is the spectacular spiral Geometric Staircase (also referred to as the Dean's Stair) that creates the illusion of floating out from the walls of the Cathedral's South West Bell Tower. Recognizable from "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban", this winding staircase served as the pathway for students ascending the stone steps on their way to Professor Trelawney's Divination classes, which were held in a classroom situated atop one of Hogwarts' North Towers. Additionally, the same staircase was featured in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" as the Turris Magnus staircase. To catch a glimpse, you'll need to enter the Cathedral with a visitor ticket.

Why You Should Visit:
An architectural marvel and an iconic representation of London.
There's a wealth of exploration to be had, whether you venture above ground or into the crypt.

Tip:
Entrance to this cathedral requires a fee. Opt for online ticket purchase to streamline your visit and save time.
Additionally, you have the option to purchase an audio tour at the entrance.
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Cheapside

14) Cheapside

This thoroughfare served as the primary east-west street in 16th-century London when the city had a population of approximately 200,000 inhabitants. The expansive street was home to The City's marketplace, and this is reflected in the names of the streets that radiate from it, such as Poultry, Honey Lane, Milk Street, and Bread Street.

In the 19th century, Cheapside remained a bustling shopping district and played a prominent role in English literature, frequently appearing in Dickens's works. In "Great Expectations", Pip described the nearby street market of Cheapside as "all asmear with filth and fat and blood ... the great black dome of Saint Paul's bulging at me."

Charles Dickens, Jr. penned in his 1879 book "Dickens's Dictionary of London": "Cheapside remains now what it was five centuries ago, the greatest thoroughfare in the City of London. Other localities have had their day, have risen, become fashionable, and have sunk into obscurity and neglect, but Cheapside has maintained its place, and may boast of being the busiest thoroughfare in the world, with the sole exception perhaps of London-bridge."

In the contemporary landscape, Cheapside retains its status as a vibrant retail hub widely known for its diverse array of outlets and offices. The area also features The City's lone major shopping center, One New Change (at the Saint Paul's Cathedral end), with restrooms and a glass elevator leading to a rooftop terrace offering panoramic views of Saint Paul's and the London cityscape.
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Lombard Street (Dickens-era site)

15) Lombard Street (Dickens-era site)

Lombard Street, a locale that presently houses many financial institutions and stands as an affluent residential area, had a notable history in the 19th century. At 1 Lombard Street, it was home to Smith, Payne & Smiths Bank. The bank's manager, George Beadnell, resided next door at 2 Lombard Street. In 1831, Beadnell and his wife hosted a dinner for friends and the daughters' acquaintances, which included a 19-year-old Charles Dickens, who was on the verge of commencing his career as a parliamentary reporter.

Of particular note was Beadnell's third daughter, Maria, who captivated the young Dickens. He vividly described his infatuation, likening it to a "captured butterfly" pinned to the black velvet trimming on one of Maria's dresses. The young man would make late-night pilgrimages to Lombard Street just to catch a glimpse of the place where Maria slumbered. His devotion to her endured for four years until 1833 when Maria returned from abroad, and their relationship came to an end.

Maria partially served as the inspiration for Dora Spenlow, David's wife in "David Copperfield". In real life, she resurfaced in 1855 as Mrs. Winter, reaching out to Dickens for a meeting. Anticipation ran high, but Dickens was profoundly disappointed, finding Maria "toothless, fat, old and ugly". She made another fictional appearance as Flora Finching, Arthur Clennam's former love, in "Little Dorrit".

In Dickens's first novel, "The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club" (more commonly known as "The Pickwick Papers"), the narrative revolves around a group of men journeying across England and lodging in various inns, including the George and Vulture on Lombard Street, during their stay in London.

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Harry Potter Walking Tour II

Harry Potter Walking Tour II

The arrival of Harry Potter books, followed by tremendously successful Hollywood adaptation, has made London an even more popular destination now with the Harry Potter fans all over the world. The list of attractions in the city associated with Potter’s journeys includes both, newly-invented as well as some long-standing locations.

On Part II of the self-guided Happy Potter Walking Tour, you...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles
Sherlock Holmes Tour in London

Sherlock Holmes Tour in London

Among a myriad of other, real-life celebrities who have ever called London their home, perhaps the most famous is the fictional consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes, created by Conan Doyle. Indeed, the ingenious sleuth has left an indelible mark on the literary and cultural landscape of London ever since the appearance of the first stories about him in the late 1880s. Years on, there are several...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles

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London Souvenirs: 20 Distinctively British Products for Travelers

London Souvenirs: 20 Distinctively British Products for Travelers

Most visitors to London consider shopping as part of their must-do London experience. From street markets to Victorian arcades to snobbish Sloane Square to busy Oxford Street, there are a host of shops selling items which typically represent this vibrant city. Whether you are shopping for souvenirs...