London Walking Tours    with Joanna Moncrieff

A Week of Walks

It’s always the same – no events for ages and then everything at once. I am always pretty busy but last week was exceptionally so having attended 3 walks and led one myself in less than a week not to mention going to a talk by Monica Ali at the Royal Academy on Monday, having my London Ambassadors‘ interview on Thursday afternoon and doing 4.5 days’ work in my day job! 

Last Sunday I joined Walthamstow Historical Society for the first of this year’s free walks this one starting at Walthamstow Central station and finishing near the Baker’s Arms. For details of the rest of this summer’s walks email

Last Sunday’s walk was mainly along Hoe Street which is now a very busy road and one which I would hardly glance at when passing along on a bus. It’s hard to imagine now that Cleveland House on the corner of Orford Road which has now been converted into flats was home in the 18th Century to botanist Edward Forster before he moved to Beech Hall Farm in Hale End (now long gone) and Chestnuts House further down the road was home to another well-to-do family.  Both houses have survived primarily because they were or are being used by the Council.  On this walk I also discovered where the now long gone Queen’s Cinema was having read about it on the London Sideways blog.

On Wednesday night I went on a walk around St Giles by the writer of London Sideways who also leads walks with old maps. This was the 3rd old maps walk I had been on with Ken (or 4th if you include his non-mapped tour around Somerset House). I have always been fascinated by maps and his walks bring another dimension to a guided walk and you can really get an idea of how the area looked in past times. We were very lucky to get a glimpse into the hidden courtyard garden of St Giles Almshouses in Macklin Street which I had walked past many times before without even noticing.

Thursday night I was led around Decadent London by the author of a book of the same name, Antony Clayton. Unfortunately Antony only does one walk a year so I couldn’t miss this having really enjoyed his Hogarth walk last year. There was a bit of everything on this walk and I learned a lot and his book is now on my wishlist. We started by the Westminster Reference Library, walked through Leicester Square learning about the music halls and entertainment places of the past, to Piccadilly Circus, then to the back of Albany in Mayfair to learn about the notorious Yellow Book and Bodley Head (this bit is on my Mayfair literary walk coming up soon) and then onto St James’s finishing in one of my favourite pubs, the Red Lion in Crown Passage.

On Saturday I led my walk around St James’s for Spice. On Sunday I had a well deserved rest!