Shakespeare's London Walking Tour, London (Self Guided)

All across the globe William Shakespeare is referred to as the preeminent writer in the English language and the leading dramatist. His London was a very small world, and the theatrical world within that was even smaller. This 3-hours walk will take you to the significant Shakespeare places in London.
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Shakespeare's London Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Shakespeare's London Walking Tour
Guide Location: England » London (See other walking tours in London)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 km
Author: clare
Middle Temple Hall

1) Middle Temple Hall

Middle Temple Hall is to be found in the Middle Temple, one of the four Inns of Court near the Royal Courts of Justice. The other Inns of Court are Inner Temple, Gray’s Inn and Lincoln’s Inn.

From the 13th century until 1852 the Inns of Court were hostels and schools for students studying Law. Middle Temple formed the Western part of the headquarters of the Knights Templar. Middle and Inner Temple are built around a series of cobbled stoned courtyards and alleys. They are lit at night by original gas lamps.

Middle Temple Hall, in the heart of the Inn was built in 1562 and it survived the Great Fire in 1666 and bombings in both World Wars. Student members of Middle Temple are required to attend at least 12 qualifying sessions in the Hall. These sessions usually take place during meal times, but in spite of the relaxed atmosphere, they are serious affairs.

The Hall is a popular place for banquets, wedding receptions and parties. It is 101 ft long and 41 ft wide and has an incredibly beautiful high double hammer beam ceiling. The stained glass windows are memorials to notable people associated with the Inn. Behind the High Table are huge paintings of Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Anne, Kings Charles I and II, King James II, King William III and George I. All around the Hall, on the walls are the shields of the Readers from 1597 onwards.

The lovely High Table was given to the Hall by Queen Elizabeth I, who often dined there. The table is made of three 29 ft planks of oak taken from one tree and floated down the Thames before being installed in the Hall.
Blackfriars Playhouse

2) Blackfriars Playhouse

If you want to take in a play while you are in London, you couldn’t do better than to book your seats at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Next to the theatre you will find the shell of a reconstruction of Blackfriars Theatre, which will become a theatre in its own right in late 2012.

When King Henry VIII enforced his Dissolution of Monasteries Act in 1538, the Blackfriars Priory was closed and taken over by the Crown. In 1576 Richard Farrant, Master of Windsor rented the priory’s former buttery and created the Blackfriars Theatre.

The theatre was very small and was supposed to be used as a practice hall for the children of the Queen’s Chapel Choir, but Farrant, who was also a playwright used the theatre to stage plays for a small crowd of well-to-do gentry and nobles. After Farrant’s death the lease was passed around between his widow and various partners. This eventually caused legal problems over the ownership of the lease and the theatre was closed down in 1585.

In 1596 James Burbage bought the former priory’s frater (dining hall) and turned it into a new theatre, also called Blackfriars. This theatre was larger than the first and could house an audience of up to 700. Burbage’s son Richard formed a company called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men – which became the King’s Men in 1603. There were six others in the company – including William Shakespeare.

Plays were staged during the seven autumn/winter months at the Blackfriars and for the five spring/summer months at the nearby Globe Theatre. The Blackfriars Theatre was closed at the beginning of the English Civil War and demolished in 1655.
St. Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe

3) St. Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe

A church called St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe arouses everyone’s curiosity, and you shouldn’t miss visiting this lovely 17th century church, which is to be found on St Andrew’s Hill.

The original church was founded in the late 12th century and was once part of Baynard’s Castle, a royal residence for many centuries. The church came by the Wardrobe part of its name in 1361 when King Edward III moved his Royal Wardrobe from the Tower of London to a storeroom to the North of the church.

The Royal Wardrobe isn’t a cupboard for hanging clothes, but rather a largish building where arms, clothing and other paraphernalia belonging to the Crown were stored. During the Commonwealth of England, the Wardrobe was emptied by Cromwell and used as an orphanage.

Both the Wardrobe and the church were destroyed by the Great Fire in 1666 and the new church was one of over 50 designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1695. Only the tower and walls remained after the Blitz of 1941 and today’s building was re-consecrated in 1961.

The interior of the church has arcaded bays supported by piers instead of columns. On the North side of the Sanctuary you can see a figure of St Andrew that dates back to 1600. Another figure, of St Ann holding the Virgin, who in her turn is holding the baby Jesus, comes from Italy and was executed in the early 16th century.
Shakespeare Globe Theatre

4) Shakespeare Globe Theatre (must see)

Shakespeare's Globe is a reconstruction of the Globe Theatre, an Elizabethan playhouse for which William Shakespeare wrote his plays. The original theatre was built in 1599, destroyed by fire in 1613, rebuilt in 1614, and then demolished in 1644.

The modern Globe Theatre is an academic approximation based on available evidence of the 1599 and 1614 buildings. It is considered quite realistic, though contemporary safety requirements mean that it accommodates only 1,400 spectators compared to the original theatre’s 3,000. Shakespeare's Globe was about 230 metres (750 ft) from the site of the original theatre and opened to the public in 1997, with a production of Henry V.

The Globe Theatre offers guided tours that brings the space to life with colourful stories of the 1599 Globe and Shakespeare's plays. This place is a must-see for anyone interested in theater, history, or Shakespeare!

Why You Should Visit:
A brilliant location in which to see Shakespeare's plays, complete with a usually high standard of production.

Gets rather cold during the evening (due to the theatre being only semi-covered) so bring a blanket.
Taking a hat or sunglasses for the sun moving across the sky should also help.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Southwark Cathedral

5) Southwark Cathedral

Southwark Cathedral lies on the south bank of the River Thames close to London Bridge. It is the mother church of the Anglican Diocese of Southwark. It has been a place of Christian worship for more than 1,000 years, but a cathedral only since the creation of the diocese of Southwark in 1905.

Between 1106 and 1538 it was the church of an Augustinian priory, Southwark Priory, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Following the dissolution of the monasteries, it became a parish church, with the new dedication of St Saviour's. The church was in the diocese of Winchester until 1877, when the parish of St Saviour's, along with other South London parishes, was transferred to the diocese of Rochester. The present building retains the basic form of the Gothic structure built between 1220 and 1420, although the nave is a late 19th-century reconstruction.

Southwark Cathedral is a beautiful cathedral in the middle of the bustle of Borough Market. Friendly and welcoming it is a lovely place to drop by and spend some time there. There also is a nice herb garden to see too and some interesting memorials in the grounds, including for the London Bridge terrorit attack.
Sight description based on wikipedia
George Inn

6) George Inn

If you want to have a drink or a meal in surroundings that make you feel that you have been transported back in time to 17th century England – but with all the comforts of the 21st century, you should try the George Inn, which is situated in a cobbled-stone courtyard not far from Southwark Cathedral.

The building is the last galleried coaching inn in England, owned today by the National Trust and rented out as a pub/restaurant. It was built in 1676 and was the terminus for coaches coming to London from the South of England.

It is a three-story building with a crooked gallery on the first floor, which once were bedrooms for travelers and is now the restaurant overlooking the courtyard. The pub on the ground floor is made up of several interconnecting rooms, all with oak-beamed ceilings, white-washed walls, latticed windows and comfortable settles.

The Old Bar was once the waiting-room; the Middle Bar was a coffee room, frequented by Charles Dickens, who mentions the inn in his book “Little Dorrit”; it is also said that Shakespeare used the pub – though, of course, not at the same time as Dickens. In the winter, the pub serves mulled wine and the open-fireplaces (now housing energy-saving wood-stoves) give off a welcome warmth. In the summer you can sit at one of the long wooden tables in the courtyard and admire the crooked galleries above you with their flower baskets full of brightly coloured plants to offset the white railings and walls of this historic building.
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.
Kensington/Knightsbridge Walk

Kensington/Knightsbridge Walk

Situated just below Hyde Park, Knightsbridge and South Kensington are two adjacent neighborhoods with grand Victorian homes and leafy garden squares. The area is also a shopper's paradise featuring grand luxury stores, whereas museumgoers will find a number of excellent museums on history, science and arts. On this self guided walk, you will visit former Princess Diana's residence,...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.4 km
Bloomsbury Museums, Part 2

Bloomsbury Museums, Part 2

There are over 240 museums in London and they welcome about 42 million annual visitors nationwide. This wonderful tour will lead you to the most famous and significant museums of London Bloomsbury area, such as Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, Wellcome Collection, The Crypt Gallery and others.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 km
Bridges of London

Bridges of London

Thirty-three bridges span the Thames river in London. Each one has its own history and is worth seeing. This self-guided walk takes you to see ten historical bridges in central London.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.2 km
Charles Dickens London Walking Tour

Charles Dickens London Walking Tour

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...  view more

Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 8.0 km
Holborn/Covent Garden Walk

Holborn/Covent Garden Walk

During this self guided walking tour around Holborn and Covent Garden areas you will have a chance to visit such famous and interesting London attractions, as National Gallery, London Coliseum, London Transport Museum and many others. Don't miss your chance to explore the best of the Holborn and Covent Garden areas.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 km
Bloomsbury Museums, Part 1

Bloomsbury Museums, Part 1

There are over 240 museums in London and they welcome about 42 million annual visitors nationwide. This wonderful tour will lead you to the most famous and significant museums of London Bloomsbury area, such as British Museum, Charles Dickens Museum, London Canal Museum and others.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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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...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in London for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best London has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting London's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the London Pass, London Explorer Pass, or iVenture Card.

A city pass combines all or multiple London's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of London hotels conveniently located for a comfortable stroll: The Trafalgar St. James London Curio collection by Hilton, Corinthia Hotel London, The Grand at Trafalgar Square.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as London, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of London typically costs somewhere between US$30 and US$130 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of London from the open top of the bus listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get on and off at any of the stops along the six interconnecting routes, plus get on board the Thames River Sightseeing Cruise. The tickets are valid for 24, 48, or 72 hours.

- Spend half a day pedaling your way around London Royal Parks on a guided bike tour to see the city's most spectacular highlights stopping at some for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning interesting facts about the attractions from a knowledgeable group leader.

- Commit yourself to a full-day of sightseeing to appreciate the English capital in its full splendor complete with its top (UNESCO-listed and other) attractions, plus to enjoy a sightseeing cruise down the River Thames, and more.

- Dive into Britain’s royal and political history on the Westminster Abbey & Houses of Parliament tour for an up-close view of the country's two most prominent landmarks that have been in place and duly served their purpose for almost a millennium.

- Explore the WWII chapter of the British history on a guided 2-hour walking tour of Churchill War Rooms & Westminster to see how they operated back in those days. Hear some little-known war tales and tidbits about London and the country's most celebrated leader, Winston Churchill.

- Satisfy your penchant for English tradition, glamour and food culture in style with an afternoon tea experience at the 5-star Grosvenor House Hotel in London complete with a full set of lovely cakes, sandwiches and tea!

- If you're into music, give yourself a treat, whilst in London, to the Musical Theater Show at Apollo Victoria Theatre presenting the alternate side of the famous Wizard of Oz story previously untold.

Day Trips

If you have a day to spare whilst in London, why not use it to explore some out-of-town destinations like the Warner Bros. Studio London, Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, and Bath, Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick Castle, Cotswolds, or Leeds Castle, Cliffs of Dover and Canterbury. For as little as circa US$100+ to US$120+ per person you will get a chance to explore the postcard-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage sights, get behind-the-scenes of the mystical world of Harry Potter, see what has been the home of the British Royals for the past 900 years, explore the ancient rock formations, Roman Baths and medieval castles, walk the streets of the charming hometown of William Shakespeare, check out one of the world’s most prestigious universities, get to see the picture-perfect region officially designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, otherwise known as “forever England,” renowned for its quaint villages and rolling hills, admire the symbolic White Cliffs of Dover, and more. For any of these tours you will be picked up straight from your hotel in London and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned coach or train (whichever is applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.