Sunday, 25 September 2016

#London Walks Walk of the Week: Rollicking, Frolicking #Fitzrovia

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…

Rollicking, Frolicking Fitzrovia

2:30p.m Saturday 1st October
Warren Street Tube

Guided by Jane

The West End's untamed quarter.

Bodes well that Fitzrovia takes its name from the illegitimate son of a king who was known as the Merry Monarch for to this day Fitzrovia has lost none of its raffish, irreverent air. Of the four quarters that make up London’s West End (Mayfair, Marylebone, Soho and Fitzrovia) Fitzrovia features least on the usual tourist trail. This has distinct advantages. Fitzrovia fizzes with surprises: from Banksy’s iconic stencil-style guerrilla art to a wondrously quirky church that, astonishingly, is taller than Westminster Abbey.

Charles Dickens, who lived for a while in Fitzrovia, once described London as ‘streaky bacon’ with the lewd and bawdy sandwiched between elegant grandeur. Nowhere is this truer than in Fitzrovia. Relatively unscathed by 1940s bombs or 1960s town planners, Fitzrovia boasts an opulent square yet still oozes the bohemian charm that grew out of its having been, over many years, the beloved home of artists, such as James McNeill Whistler, Walter Sickert and Grayson Perry.  And, oh my, the tales, the goings on. By way of example, it was here in Fitzrovia, whilst lodging with Ford Madox Brown, poor Dante Gabriel Rosetti once fell through the floor into the pit below – the cesspit below.

The same free-wheeling spirit that captivated artists also attracted radicals, revolutionaries, writers and philosophers, and in hedonistic Fitzrovia even the formerly repressed middle-class intelligentsia seem to have discovered sex. An informal group of bon viveurs and thinkers called the Bloomsbury Group, famed for living in squares and loving in triangles, also colonised Fitzrovia and we spill the beans on how their lifestyle further spiced up Fitzrovia’s rollicking, frolicking reputation.

Nowadays much of our titillation comes to us over the airwaves, so it is wholly appropriate that our walk ends near an institution which keeps up Fitzrovia’s tradition of delighting our imaginations: the BBC. The BBC’s Broadcasting House is an exciting blend of old and new which eases us gently back into the twenty-first century world of consumerism and Oxford Street where our walk draws to a close at Oxford Circus Tube.

Rollicking, Frolicking Fitzrovia meet at 2:30p.m on Saturday 1st October outside Warren Street Tube

Guided by Jane

About Your Guide

Jane is from Bloomsbury, where Virginia Woolf's circle lived in squares and loved in triangles. She keeps up the tradition by living in a square and as a professionally qualified Clerkenwell & Islington, City of Westminster and City of London Guide, loving the triangle she tills. Living at the foot of Centre Point she's the fixed point of the London compass: London encircles Jane! There's more: she's another award-winning London Walks guide.

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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