Sunday, 31 January 2016

#plaque366 Tudor Hall, Barnet

A London commemorative plaque for every day in 2016. 

The plaques are selected from all walks of life, and all points of the London compass – and I'm taking requests too!

DROP ME A LINE or leave a comment below if you'd like to nominate a plaque for inclusion in the series

Elizabethan School, High Barnet EN5…

A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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#London Walks Guides' Tips For Winter Walkers No.9: The Famous Stand-By Coat

Outside in all weathers, the London Walks guides know a thing or two about battling the cold weather.

In this short series we're sharing our winter weather tips with our lovely London Walkers, a hardy bunch who join us rain or sleet in the winter months.

David adds…


Surely the last word* on Guides’ Tips for Winter Walkers.

Of the female persuasion at any rate.

Let’s count the ways – sashay them words down the catwalk.

1.     It’s rubberless
2.     Comes with a printed, legally binding guarantee to keep out all the rain. That’s “all the rain” – not “the rain”, not “some of the rain”, not “most of the rain.”
3.     It’s a woollen whipcord
4.     As opposed to a cold, clammy, linen-like fabric
5.     It’s made from Omne Tempus Cloth (need I say more?)
6.     It’s multipurpose – a boon to the War-worker and the “open-air” woman
7.     It’s “Ready-for-wear” or “To measure”
8.     It’s famous.
9.     It’ll stand-by you.
10. It’s triple-proofed.
11. It comes from “A Great House”
12. It’s got Madge inside it.
13. It’s London. We ain’t talking Oshkosh here.
14. The deal closer – it’s made by men-Tailors
15. It’s got no end of tongue-in-cheek possibilities.

*Make that words plural. And illustrated words at that.

A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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#London Walk of the Week: Whitehall In Focus

Every Sunday 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…

Whitehall In Focus

Meet Fiona at Westminster Station Exit 4 10:45:a.m Saturday 6th February

This new In Focus season brings the classic London Walks forensic approach to our most famous streets. In the second walk of the series we turn the spotlight on Whitehall.

Whitehall contains more landmarks of our island’s history than any other street.

The casual visitor misses 99 percent of what’s there. We don’t.

The casual visitor gets the popsicle. We feast on the full banquet.

And the guide? Since “it all comes down to the guiding.” Some of you have probably guessed: it’s Fiona.

Fiona If this were the British military Fiona would be “the most decorated member of the Armed Forces.” The full fruit salad. All four badges. Blue Badge, City of London, City of Westminster, and Clerkenwell. And not just badges – there are any number of badged guides in London who are pretty run of the mill. Fiona wins the gold medal, the big one, the Numero Uno award: Blue Badge Guide of the Year, City of Westminster Guide of the Year, etc.

Final thought about In Focus walks generally. They’ve been a long time a-coming  – been like a wave forming and building, a wheel under the skin – to the London Walks programme. All things considered they’re practically a tectonic shift for us. Something has finally broken free. Moved. Which is by way of saying, famously we – London Walks – do untrodden paths, quaint little back streets and hidden courtyards. That’s always been our specialty. We want to get off main drags, get away from the London equivalent of Times Square and the Champs-Élysées. We want to nook and cranny London. Take people into the little backstreets they’d never find off their own bat. That’s not to say we didn’t know about Parliament Square and Whitehall and Trafalgar Square and the Strand (the four In Focus walks that will debut the series). We of course knew about them. Knew full well that in many ways they're the most nutrient-rich tesserae of London terrain. We just didn't think fine-tooth combing a place like Parliament Square – spending a whole walk there – was really us. We had enough to be getting on with in the back forty patches we'd staked out as our turf.

And there was one other thing. We had to bring our market – our community – along.  Get our following, our walkers, ready for this.  It wasn’t that London Walks – “walks for grownups” – was going to stop doing what we’ve excelled at for half a century. It was that we were going to add to the programme a strand that was counter-intuitive to the London Walks ethos. So counter-intuitive that we felt our market – our following – had to ripen. Be ready for this step, these steps. Our sixth sense is telling us that hour has come round. That we’ll get some takers for walks that look extremely closely at the likes of Parliament Square (and Whitehall and Trafalgar Square and the Strand and… well, there’s lots more in the pipeline).

Meet Fiona at Westminster Station Exit 4 10:45:a.m Saturday 6th February

A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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Saturday, 30 January 2016

London Spy 30:01:15 Our Weekly Review of All Things #London #LondonSpy

It's our weekly London roundup starting with a few headlines that caught the eye in London over the last week or so, click the links for the full stories…

ENVIRONMENT: Landmark legal action taken against Boris Johnson's decision to "waive through" the destruction of Norton Folgate…

Campaigners battling to prevent London’s historic Liberty of Norton Folgate being redeveloped with corporate office towers have today been allowed a benchmark legal challenge against the Mayor of London.

High Court judge Mr Justice Collins has granted permission for a Judicial Review to the Spitalfields Trust against the Mayor waving through the plans in breach of legal procedures.

The Judicial Review challenges Boris Johnson for over-ruling Tower Hamlets Council, which has twice rejected the developers’ scheme in partnership with the City of London Corporation which has been buying up properties in the Georgian conservation area over the past two years.

Full story East London Advertiser:

The Save Norton Folgate Facebook page is here:

MUSIC: The Half Moon in Herne Hill is campaigning to save its music licence…

The Half Moon Pub in Herne Hill, is set to reopen its doors this summer but will cease to be a live music venue under new proposals.

Responding to a public petition which has attracted more than 6,000 signatures, the Mayor of London has now urged the pub’s new management to “continue with a regular programme of new and cutting edge grassroots music acts”.

Full story in the South London Press…

CULTURE: The Freeedom To Party protest takes place today in Shoreditch. “This will be one to remember," say organisers. "Let them know we mean peace, love, unity and respect. All we want to do is dance.”

More than 2,500 people plan to dance through the streets of east London on Saturday in a call to end persecution of the UK’s free party movement.

The Freedom to Party protest is due to kick off at 2.30pm in Shoreditch. “Remember to bring all portable speakers, mini rigs, 12v rigs etc anything that plays music,” organisers have said.

More than 2,500 people have indicated they will attend the event, which has been organised on Facebook. A similar number have said they are interested in attending.

Full story in The Guardian…

In Brief…

SPORT (SORT OF): Best Places for Crazy Golf In London – Evening Standard

PROPERTY: £22m For Ruin on Bishops Ave – International Business Times

DRINKING: Craft Beer in East London – Newcastle Herald

THEATRE: Kinky Boots to Extend – London Theatre

FASHION: The Man Who Founded London Fashion Week – Daily Telegraph

If You Do One OTHER Thing In London…

Our weekly slot in which we point you in the direction of other happenings and events in our great city. A new exhibition, a gig, a museum, a pop-up-shop – the best of London within a few minutes of a London Walks walking tour.

Westminster Cathedral Viewing Gallery

The Shard and the London Eye often upstage Westminster Cathedral’s viewing gallery these days. But the view from the Roman Catholic cathedral 64 metres (210 feet) above street level should still be on your London bucket list for 2016 – especially if you are on a budget. The view is certainly spectacular, but best of all, the experience an unhurried one – take your time and take it all in.

Westminster Cathedral
42 Francis St,

Opening Times:

9.30am-5.00pm Monday-Friday
9.30am-6.00pm Saturday-Sunday

Adults £6.00
Concessions £3.00
Family £12.00 (two adults and up to four children)

Walking & Footwear News

I enjoyed this piece from Canadian Broadcaster Stephen Quinn, a meditation on ditching the car and getting out on one's hind legs …

Walking is free, it feels good, it helps me think and it lets me see the city in a way that just isn’t possible otherwise. Sticking to the same route brings the comfort of the familiar, and changing up the route brings new discoveries. Never before have I been so conscious of the seasons.

There are familiar characters along the way, like the man I have named Strongman – a triangular, broad-chested older man with a thick neck, a shiny bald head and a grey handlebar moustache. He is perpetually wearing shorts, and marches every morning in the opposite direction with the sort of purpose reserved for soldiers who know that victory is near. I may spot him anywhere between the viaduct and Commercial Drive, depending on my timing. He covers a lot of ground quickly.

Full story here… (P.S A big shout out to our loyal London Walkers in BC! Happy New Year!)


The g-word – gentrification – is consuming New York City's former dowdy neighbourhoods every bit as rapidly as it is here in London. This piece from The Gothamist caught my eye, focusing as it does on the g-word (one of my fave rants) and the role of the Doctor Marten boot (my fave shoe for leading walking tours, see earlier post) and its role as a signifier of gentrification…

A Doc Martens store is opening on Bedford Avenue, furthering Williamsburg's well-documented SoHo-ification. But do not shake your fist at the gods of gentrification, for Doc Martens is a much more appropriate North Brooklyn transplant than the J. Crews and Ralph Laurens that have preceded it. Because Doc Martens boots are, in fact, the Williamsburg of Shoes.

Full story on Gothamist…

And Finally…

Thanks to London Walker Michelle Siedel and London cabbie and blogger Richard Cudlip (what a fine and resonant newspaperman's name that is Mr Cudlip, most appropriate for a blogger!) for pointing me in the direction of this grab from Street View capturing Richard P leading one of his famous Beatles walking tours for London Walks…

Have a great week! London Spy will return next Saturday.

A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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