Monday, 30 April 2012

Walk of the Week

NEW: Every Monday we’ll pluck just one walk from the vast London Walks repertoire and put it centre stage.

You can check out the full schedule at

But if you only take one walking tour this week, why not make it…

Hampstead Garden Suburb
Local London 10.45a.m Golders Green Station Sunday 6th May

The London Tourist Board's Guide of the Year winner Karen is Going Home on Sunday, May 6th (at 10.45 am) – leading a tour of the corner of London in which she was raised: the little-known Hampstead Garden Suburb. Here she is…

“There are those – the great Peter Ackroyd among them – who would deny the existence of ‘village London’. A conceit, others say, concocted by estate agents to pass off downmarket areas as quaint and cultural.

And there’s a part of this Village London concept that I, too, would quibble with. The enclaves and quarters, the different “manors” (to use Cockney parlance) and neighbourhoods are often too complex to be encapsulated by the boundaries of a mere village.

The famous square mile, the City of London is, despite its diminutive size, is obviously not a village – from some angles it even seems more than a mere City, coming over more as some independent city state. In turn, the myriad exoticisms of Soho could never fit into a village. That fabled quarter – also roughly a square mile – is more a Peoples’ Republic – i.e. a quarter that welcomes the peoples of the world of all creeds, colours and sexualities – than a village.

If you want a citadel, we’ve got one of those to spare here in London, too: the rarefied academic halls and spires of Harrow on the Hill, especially when approached on foot from the east via the Capital Ring, resembles nothing less than a stronghold. Viewed thus it’s little surprise that Harrow brought forth Churchill.

There’s one more for the “more-than-a-village” category: Hampstead Garden Suburb. Conceived as a retreat from the onset of the urban sprawl in the early 20th Century, this deliberately well-hidden corner of north London is undeniably ‘villagey’ in both feel and look – and that, indeed, was one of the founding principles of the place, foremost in the mind of its creator Dame Henrietta Barnet.

The result – the quiet lanes, the proximity of the Heath, the veritable festival of English domestic architecture, the fruit tree in every garden, the world-renowned girls’ school, the parish church by Lutyens – surpasses even the original high ideals of its conservationist foundation.

More than a village, more even than London’s most beautiful village (for such a term is too subjective), Hampstead Garden Suburb is nothing less than the Model Village.

Such village perfection as was only imaginable in 1907 made real – and never yet surpassed.”

To go on the Local London – Golders Green & Hampstead Garden Suburb walk meet Karen at Golders Green Station.


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In and Around London... Hampstead Garden Suburb

Monday is mute on the London Walks Blog (well, almost mute) – because Monday is the day when we post five images captured in and around London by London Walks Guides, London Walkers and Facebook friends. Collated on a theme or an area, if you've got some great shots of our capital and want to join in send your pictures to the usual address.

is Hampstead Garden Suburb London’s loveliest village?

The Hampstead Garden Suburb walk meets this Sunday 6th May ay 10.45a.m at Golders Green Station.

St Jude's by Lutyens

Former home of Labour Party Prime Minister Harold Wilson

St Jude's from afar

The Free Church – also by Lutyens


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Saturday, 28 April 2012

Mount Vernon: The Saturday Street

The Saturday Street is our weekly series in which we unlock the stories behind the names of London's famous thoroughfares. It's compiled by London Walks guide Karen – listed by Travel + Leisure magazine as The World's Greatest Tour Guide. You can find Karen on Saturdays guiding her Old Westminster and British Museum walks. If you've got a London street query or suggestion, email Karen at the usual address

Mount Vernon NW3
Location: The Borough of Camden

This leafy Hampstead road is named for one General Charles Vernon who owned property in the area from 1785. London Walks guides in Hampstead are invariably met with the question, “Is this the same Vernon as George Washington’s?” Close, but no cigar – but close only in that Washington’s Mount Vernon was also named for a military man – Vice Admiral Edward Vernon.


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Friday, 27 April 2012

Rock'n'Roll London

Great feature in the NME a couple of weeks ago (cover pictured) in which our much loved and last remaining music weekly has matched some young turks of the current music scene with their heroes from the earlier generations.

John Lydon (always good copy) is matched up with Rhys Webb from East London’s finest The Horrors.

Cover stars Paul Weller and Miles Kane strike up such a great rapport that they’re even planning to work together on Kane’s new album.

It was all in great contrast to a story from the now defunct Melody Maker (also printed in the also now defunct Number 1 magazine) about 30 years ago when the young Weller was teamed up with his hero Pete Townshend for a chat and a photo shoot. The meeting was a much edgier affair than that of Weller and Kane. The pair posed for a now famous picture outside the Marquee Club in Wardour Street, which is on the route of our Rock’n’Roll London walk.

Weller & Townshend outside The Marquee

The now famous photo of Townshend and Weller is the work of Janette Beckman and is a modern classic of rock & pop photography. You can see more of her work at her website –

Jannette is also teaching a course this summer on Youth Culture – Documentary and Portrait Photography at the International Center of Photography in New York. Full details HERE

For more Weller and Kane at the NME website click HERE

Join the Rock’n'Roll London Walk on Friday at 2pm, meeting at Tottenham Court Road Station (Exit 3) – to book a Private Walk call 020 7642 3978 or email


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Thursday, 26 April 2012

Our Favourite Shops No.10

Every Thursday we bring you The Daily Constitutional guide to the best of London shopping – independent, one man- and one-woman bands, unique boutiques, singular emporia and London institutions.

These are our favourite shops. To nominate your favourite shop for inclusion send us an email with a short description and a brief reason why you think it is the best shop in London.

The Vintage Magazine Shop

What: Collectibles.

Where: Brewer Street, Soho

Why: Ephemera and memorabilia from the 20th century, a pop culture treasure trove, VinMags is the perfect spot for an unusual gift – a copy of The Dandy, perhaps, from the week in which your loved one was born. They also have a wide range of 10x8 movie stills and lobby cards and they also host regular celebrity signing sessions. A great, one-off shop, the like of which is sadly disappearing from the streets of Soho.


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Streets Ahead

Streets Ahead is the occasional column from London Walks' Pen David Tucker

Here's a photo-fit in words.

"He was shorter than the average Englishman of today. He stood with his knees bent, his body stooping, and his head low in front of his hunched-up shoulders... His legs and arms, chest and shoulders, were probably covered with hair growing so thick that it was almost like fur... His nose was broad and flat, with wide nostrils to enable him to hunt by scenting out his prey. His ears were longer and larger than ours, helping him to catch every sound - a movement in the bushes, the snapping of a twig... He had bushy eyebrows spouting above his low brows, but the most strange feature of his face was the lower jaw. We should say that he had no chin, for his jaw sloped away into his thick neck. He showed his big teeth with every movement of his hairy lips, and altogether he was not at all the sort of man we should care to meet in a lonely spot."

Chellean Man. That's Chellean Man, not "chill, man."

To "meet him" - in a lonely spot or otherwise - we'd have to wind back to a million years ago, maybe 1.2 million. Though late Friday night in dives that would horrify a New York alleycat...

And in case you're wondering he's named for a village in France, St. Acheul. Though I think you can safely assume that he'd have a problem trying to pass himself off as a French rake, monk, or saint.

And as for what I'm wondering - was Chellean Woman similarly pelted?


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Wednesday, 25 April 2012

It's A London Thing No.70

It’s a London Thing is our Wednesday series in which we turn the spotlight on a unique aspect of London – perhaps a curious shop, sometimes an eccentric restaurant, a hidden place, book or oddity. The subject matter will be different every week. The running theme, however, will remain constant: you have to come to London to enjoy it. It’s A London Thing.

The Famous White Leaflet.

Summer 2012 version out now.

It’s A London Thing.

(Click HERE for the Summer 2012 programme online. It's A London Thing, too.)


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Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Out Of London Walks – And The Winner Is…

The winner of last week’s competition to win a copy of the new London Walks book Out Of London Walks

… is London Walker Wendy Bell – congratulations Wendy!

The question was: At which London rail station will you find Kim waiting to lead you on the Bletchley Park walk?

The answer is Euston.

Thanks to all who entered!

You can buy a copy of Out Of London Walks (Virgin Books £9.99) online at The London Bookstore


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