City of London Tours

Charnowalks in the City of London

Charnowalks City tours, guided by a qualified City of London guide, appear alphabetically below. Please click on the picture to get a more detailed description of each tour. (This will open in a new window.)

Please click HERE to go to the Schedule: it will tell you what tours are on offer at this time, and will you give links to follow for booking.

Little Dorrit Frontispiece - City of London Tours

Little Dorrit Frontispiece


The London of Charles Dickens is a place of transition, where old ways of living give way to the increasing urban development. Readings evoke the lethargy of imprisonment, the dangers of coach travel and the horrors of an empty house.

We experience choked churchyards and shady commerce, confused alleyways and the fateful river. Above all we hear the authentic voice of the City – that of Charles Dickens.


Frontispiece - The First Folio - City of London Tours

The First Folio 1623


The writings of William Shakespeare were influenced by the City where he lived. This tour features readings from his plays and poetry which evoke that City. Through Shakespeare;s own words we experience his reactions to London life and ways.

The tour features readings from plays such as The Life and Death of King John as well as readings from his poetry. We get a little Ben Jonson too, for good measure!


Tower Bridge under Construction - Charnowalks City tours

Tower Bridge under Construction


The City is a place of continual development and change, change which in many cases has been made possible because of engineering. Mechanical, electrical and civil engineering have come to the City’s aid, and reshaped it.

Not all ventures have been successful; despite the many victories there have been defeats too. Yet engineering has wrought wondrous changes, and continues to take the City toward the future.


The Priory of Elsing Spital - Charnowalks City tours

The Priory of Elsing Spital


This tour is an antidote to the image of the City as a place purely of profit and self-interest. It considers many ventures which have come about to help those in need, to promote peace and reconciliation, and to inspire others to do the same.

These ventures have been inspired by, among other, things a bridge, a telephone and a terrorist bomb; they show what can be done purely by people making themselves available.


1650 - Aldgate by Hollar

Aldgate 1650


Seemingly an unlikely place for a walking tour, Aldgate is a place associated with driving through. Certainly travel is at the heart of the area’s story, but so is settlement and indeed refuge. Many a helping hand has been extended to those who have sought sanctuary in the area.

Set in the Portsoken Ward of the City of London, Aldgate is also part of the true East End. It is a borderland, an interface between London and the areas outside London.


Old Bailey Sessions House 1808 - Charnowalks City tours

Old Bailey Sessions House 1808


On the streets and in the courts, the City of London has a unique relationship with the forces of law and order. As this most individual area has developed, so has the nature of its law enforcement. The City exercises judiciary and policing powers unmatched in any other local authority in the country.

The City has had to deal with fraud and terrorism, and has had to develop its approaches to crime and wrongdoing. As a result it has introduced many innovations which have gone on to benefit the country as a whole.


Legal London - Gray's Inn Griffin

Gray’s Inn Griffin


From the Temple to Gray’s Inn, Chancery Lane is the spine of Legal London. It links the four Inns of Court, the establishments that call the barrister to the Bar. But they are just part of the complex world of Legal London. There are the courts which carry on the routine business of the law. Regulatory bodies monitor the profession. Charities help those who can’t afford to help themselves.

This tour weaves in and out of the City to take in the many facets of the law and the establishments that make up Legal London.


Richard Whittington and his Cat (1770) - Charnowalks City tours

Richard Whittington and his Cat (1770)


The Great Fire of London provided an unprecedented chance to give the ageing City of London a thorough make-over. Nevertheless, medieval London has returned like the fingerprint on an injured fingertip, and forms the foundation for today’s City.

This tour tunes into the many echoes of Plantagenet and Tudor London which resound in the City of today. Some are little more than distant echoes of what was; some underpin the way the City functions nowadays. The tour takes in two genuinely medieval buildings.


Hanging at Newgate Prison

Hanging at Newgate Prison


For many centuries the judiciary has struggled to grasp the slippery serpent of crime and to deliver appropriate punishment. This is abundantly clear in the difficulties it has experienced with the death penalty, and the problems encountered with what was supposed to be a deterrent to crime.

This tour takes in sites connected with judicial punishment and with some moments when it seems to have failed our natural sense of justice.


The London Gazette September 1666 - Charnowalks City tours

The London Gazette September 1666


On Sunday 2 September 1666 a fire broke out which was to destroy most of the City of London. It was not until the following Thursday that the fire was brought under control. The death toll was low, but a huge amount of the built environment was destroyed.

Londoners were familiar with fire fighting, so why did this one spread like it did to cause so much damage? This tour explores the combination of causes for the fire which seemed to have a destructive will of its own.


Frontispiece - A Chaste Maid in Cheapside - Charnowalks City tours

Frontispiece – A Chaste Maid in Cheapside


Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights peopled the stage with characters that reflected the better part of their audiences. The stability of the innkeeper, the perspicacity of the goldsmith, the dreams of the adventurer – all these and more appear in the Jacobethan City comedies.

While this tour explores trade in Shakespearean London, it also features readings from the works of Shakespeare, Marlowe, Dekker and others.


Elizabeth I - A Queenly City

Elizabeth I – 1588


Whether sovereign or consort, England’s medieval queens had a considerable impact on the nation. Some sought to improve society, while some were all about power. And some had an impact despite not actually being queens of England!

This tour explores sites in the City which evoke those moments when  – for good or ill – England’s queens imposed themselves on the nation’s history.


Henry VIII by Joos van Cleve 1531 - Charnowalks City tours

Henry VIII – 1531


With the prospect of the Tudor dynasty dying with him, Henry VIII decided to take action. What he did would have serious repercussions, and would cost many people their lives. It was a time when the individual conscience came up against the stone wall of political expediency.

This tour explores Henry VIII’s establishment of himself as the Supreme Head of the English Church through the lives – and fates – of those caught up in the political jockeying at Henry’s court.


Central Criminal Court - Rumpole and the Legal Life

Central Criminal Court (Fayita Bonita)


In 1975, Horace Rumpole appeared as the central character in a BBC television Play for Today. Rumpole came to represent a call for humanity in our dealings with people in his determination always to defend, and to uphold the presumption of innocence, the Golden Thread at the heart of criminal law.

Overseen by his wife Hilda (She Who Must Be Obeyed) and fortified with Château Thames Embankment, Rumpole brought the law within reach of us all.


Samuel Johnson painted by Joshua Reynolds

Samuel Johnson


Yes, he did write A Dictionary of the English Language, and was known as Dictionary Johnson. But Samuel Johnson was so much more than that. He was a man with a love of language and a belief in the power of literature. And he was a caring and sociable man. His unpromising appearance belied his depths and attractions.

With site-specific quotes from his works and from Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson, this tour explores many aspects of Samuel Johnson’s life and character.


Boadicea Haranguing The Britons - Charnowalks City tours



In the year 43 Roman legions landed in Britain. Soon they had established the Roman province of Britannia with its capital at – Colchester. London was just a small riverside settlement. Very soon though a fierce rebellion caused a radical rethink of Londinium’s worth.

Illustrated by details from an archaeological map, this tour explores how Londinium grew to become the new capital of the Roman province of Britannia.


The Burning of Anne Askew 1546 - Charnowalks City tours

The Burning of Anne Askew 1546


Not for the fainthearted! Come explore the dark northwestern shadow of the City to uncover some of its grimmer stories.

The tour’s principal focus is public execution. Until 1868 public executions were a feature of English life, and some of them were curious spectacles of cruelty.

Politics, prison, plague and plots give this tour added depth – along with a red herring!


The Shakespeare Grant of Arms - Charnowalks City tours

The Shakespeare Grant  of Arms


Though William Shakespeare has become an almost legendary figure, he was in many ways a typical Londoner. A social climber aware of the need to find his place in society, yet a fierce critic of that society’s conventions, Shakespeare peopled his plays with recognisable London types.

He lived in times of social mobility and international expansion; he also sought social acceptance while excelling in that most socially unacceptable profession, that of the theatre.


The Unquiet City - the Death of Wat Tyler

The Death of Wat Tyler


From the days of the Romans, riot and rebellion have disturbed London’s ancient heart. Blood has flowed in its streets and its buildings have suffered fire and destruction. As the City’s nature and function have changed, so have the priorities of the rebels.

This tour explores nearly two thousand years’ worth of uprisings and their causes, and asks just how successful they proved.


All pictures sourced from Wikimedia Commons

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