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 Theater

2) Blackfriars Theater

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 Theatre, which officially opened in 1997, is a reconstruction of the Globe Theatre, an Elizabethan playhouse in the London Borough of Southwark, on the south bank of the River Thames. It is approximately 230 metres from the site of the original theatre. Jack Shepherd's 'Prologue Production' of The Two Gentlemen of Verona starring Mark Rylance as Proteus, opened the Globe to the theatregoing public in August 1996, a year before the formal opening Gala. The original Globe Theatre was built in 1599 by the playing company, Lord Chamberlain's Men, to which Shakespeare belonged, and was destroyed by fire on June 29, 1613. The fire was caused by an accident with a cannon during a production of Henry VIII. The theatre was rebuilt by June 1614 (the exact opening date is not known), but was officially closed by pressure of Puritan opinion in 1642 and demolished in 1644. Replicas and free interpretations of the Globe have been built around the world and in the virtual world.

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

On the South Bank of the Thames, not far from London Bridge, you will find the Southwark Cathedral, which is the Mother Church of the Anglican Diocese of Southwark and well worth a visit. Although the church has only been a cathedral since 1905, it was mentioned in the Domesday Book Survey of 1086. It is certainly possible that the building was erected on the site of an even older place of worship as in 1977 a 4th century Roman well with a pagan statue was discovered beneath the choir. The present building is the first Gothic church to be constructed in England and was dedicated to St Mary Overie (a corruption of Over the River). Of the Norman church only the wooden door remains, as the church was damaged by fire in 1212, 1390 and 1420. Inside the Cathedral there is a stained glass window dedicated to William Shakespeare showing scenes from his plays, and below this is a statue of the Bard. Another interesting memorial is the multi-chrome panelled tomb of John Gower, a 15th Court Poet and friend of Chaucer. Joined to the cathedral by Lancelot’s Link, an ancient alley now a glazed street, you will find the refectory, where you can enjoy a meal and a cup of tea and the cathedral shop, selling postcards, books and locally made gift items.
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 storey building with a crooked gallery on the first floor, which once were bedrooms for travellers and is now the restaurant overlooking the courtyard. The pub on the ground floor is made up of several inter-connecting 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”. 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 historical 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

London is definitely a great cultural experience. With more than 240 operating museums and theaters dating back to Shakespeare's Globe, London guarantees something unique for every taste. Today's variety of cultural attractions presented in London is enormous. Take this tour around South Kensington, Kensington and Knightsbridge and enjoy London's culture.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.2 km
West End Nightlife

West End Nightlife

Be prepared for the exciting, throbbing sensation of London's nightlife, one of the best in the world. You will find everything you are looking for: trendy clubs, hot atmosphere and exclusive drinks. Follow this London West End nightlife tour to get the party started!

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 km
Souvenir Shopping

Souvenir Shopping

Most visitors to London consider shopping as part of the must-do London experience. From street markets to Victorian arcades and from snobbish Sloane Square to busy Oxford Street there are a host of shops selling items which typically depict this vibrant city. Whether you are shopping for souvenirs for yourself or gift for friends, here are a few ideas to give you some great inspiration.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.5 km
City of London Churches

City of London Churches

London can proudly boast of having an awe-inspiring collection of churches. Here, you will find every style and type. The religious buildings have been a magnet for people ever since the Vikings started striking terror into the city in the 790s. Take this tour to discover most significant religious sites in the City of London.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 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...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.8 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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...

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.