London Walking Tours    with Joanna Moncrieff

There’s more to Chelsea than the King’s Road

It would have been very easy to stay in bed this morning; waking up at 8.30am on a dark gloomy Sunday with horizontal rain outside, the heating not having kicked in and my bed lovely and cosy.

However I was booked to go on a walk discovering Chelsea’s squares with Gary Powell, author of Square London a book covering the social history of many of London’s squares. As a guide myself you can’t let rain put you off and I knew he would be there at Sloane Square waiting for people whatever the weather.

Checking my messages on my phone I noticed that my friend Jane’s Twitter account had been hacked so texted her to let her know. As a result of that I found out that she was exhibiting her jewellery made out of clay pipes at a craft fair at Chelsea Old Town Hall.  If she hadn’t have been hacked I wouldn’t have known that and I was going in the same direction too so was able to pop in to say hello.

On my 5 minute walk to the station with my thermals on I wondered whether I should have looked out my woolly hat and gloves too and maybe even my waterproof socks! The rain was definitely coming in sideways and by the time I reached the station discovered my umbrella hadn’t been of much use at all.

I hadn’t met Gary before but had seen his photo and may possibly have seen him at London Historians but bizarrely he was on the same Circle Line train as me and I approached him and thankfully discovered I was right and it was him.

Amazingly the rain stopped at 10.30am just as the walk was about to start and stayed off for most of the walk. About half an hour later the sun came out and I realised it wasn’t my waterproof socks that I needed but my sunglasses!

Although I have been shopping in Peter Jones and down the King’s Road and have also been to the Chelsea Physic Garden (recommended) the walk took us into some squares just off the main road that I had never ventured to and so many of them had fascinating stories accompanying them including a murder or two. It is also the first walk I’ve been on that featured the history of a building housing a burger restaurant!

After the walk I decided to buy his book and read some of it on the way home. I think this is an invaluable book for any tour guides whose walks involve squares and the people that lived in them as he has done the hard work in tracking down the former residents and so much of interest about their lives.

I was so glad I had made the effort and not just stayed under the covers.

Gary is repeating this walk at 10.30am on Sunday 18th November; contact him via his website or Twitter if you would like more information.

The author of this blog (Joanna Moncrieff) is a qualified City of Westminster Tour Guide who specialises in food and drink themed walks in the West End. 
Details of all her bookable private walks are listed here and upcoming public walks are here.

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