The Tavern Trails

Holborn :

Dickens' Victorian London

Every THURSDAY evening

Who was Charles Dickens ? Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was the most popular English novelist of the Victorian era. Dickens was 19th century London personified. His name conjures up visions of quaint coaching inns and cozy firesides, but also of orphaned and starving children, misers and murderers. London is the centre of Dickens' world and the romance-land of Dickens' imagination lies at the door of every Londoner. And you can enter this world by the simple means of a pedestrian excursion.


About this Trail. From Traddles' chambers in Gray's Inn, to Fagin's den of thieves on Saffron Hill, this Tavern Trail takes you into the heart of Dickens' country. Not only did Dickens write extensively about this historic area of London, he lived here as well. This trail takes in four historic pubs in the heart of Dickens' Victorian London. Each of these pubs has a fascinating history and all are English Heritage listed properties and included in CAMRA's National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors. Two of the pubs we visit, one a former gin palace, are unmistakably Victorian; one of the pubs evokes the nostalgia of drinking in a great medieval banqueting hall; and one pub tucked in an alleyway between streets and seemingly between centuries is a quaint, low-ceiling 18th century tavern you might imagine London is full of. These taverns are steeped in history and, somehow, it feels like history hasn't finished passing them by.


Only a few London structures pre-date the Great Fire of 1666 and much of modern day London arose from the ashes of the 1940 Blitz. But on this Trail you will discover one of the few remaining buildings in London from the reign of Edward I, one of the best preserved half-timbered Tudor buildings still surviving in London, one of the lost rivers of old London, plus one of the greatest engineering feats of the Victorian era.


This Trail lasts around two & a half hours and covers a walking distance of just over one mile (approximately 2 km). The Trail finishes close to St.Paul's Underground Station (Central Line).

Where and When ? Every Thursday evening. Meet at 6:30pm, just outside the entrance to Holborn Underground Station (Central & Piccadilly lines), on the pavement on the left-hand-side as you exit the station. PLEASE NOTE THE NEW STARTING TIME OF 6:30pm, WHICH TAKES EFFECT FROM THURSDAY 1st MARCH 2012.

Fleet Street :

Dr Johnson's Georgian London

Every TUESDAY evening

"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford"                                                                                              Dr Samuel Johnson

Who was Dr Samuel Johnson ? Dr Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) wrote "A Dictionary of the English Language", published in 1755. This was the first comprehensive dictionary of the English language and it was by far the most widely used English dictionary for the next 170 years. Johnson's Dictionary has been described as "one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship". Dr Johnson is also the subject of "the most famous single work of biographical art in the whole of literature" - James Boswell's "Life of Samuel Johnson". Dr Johnson lived almost the whole of his adult life in London, and spent most of it in the many taverns, coffee-houses and residences in and around Fleet Street.

About this Trail. As long ago as the 18th Century, Dr Johnson'simages great friend and biographer, James Boswell, once remarked :

"London is to the politician merely a seat of government, to the grazier a cattle market, to the merchant a huge exchange, and to the man of pleasure an assemblage of taverns".

And so it still is today. And the taverns in this part of Old London are encrusted as thick with anecdotes, legends and traditions as an old ship is with barnacles. This trail takes in four historic taverns in Dr Johnson country, as we meander our way through the streets and alleys of Legal London. We visit a late-Victorian pub in "the street of shame", a hidden tavern where, in its former life, outlawed Catholic priests conducted secret Mass, and two, very different, 17th Century treasures which have the charm of centuries upon them. Our selection of historic taverns includes the oldest pub in London and the best preserved example in London of what a 17th Century tavern was really like. These taverns beckon you into a bygone era.Temple_Bar_Memorial_ILN_1880

You will also discover on this Trail the maze of hidden alleys and courtyards that is the Inner & Middle Temples, the Church of "The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ" (better known as the Knights Templar), the first Tea Room in London, the famous Temple Bar Memorial, and the 17th Century home of Dr Johnson. Want to visit Dr Johnson's house during opening hours (highly recommended) ? Then click here for details.

This Trail lasts approximately two & a half hours and covers a walking distance of just over one mile (approximately 2 km). The Trail finishes right next to Holborn Underground Station (Piccadilly & Central Lines).

Where & When ? Every Tuesday evening. Meet at 6:30pm, just outside the entrance to Temple Underground Station (Circle & District Lines).

Private Trails

London Tavern Trails can be booked for private walks, incorporating either a Trail highlighted on this website or a bespoke trail to suit individual requirements. Please contact us for further information.Leadenhall_Market_Illustrated_London_News_1881

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