Dickens and London

Highlife - Lowlife: Stories of Fleet Street

The clock of St Dustan in the West in Fleet Street

This walk explores the network of hidden medieval alleys, courtyards and gardens on either side of Fleet Street and the approaches to it from the City Tourist office.  Fleet Street is an ancient road running beside the River Thames and linking the commercial City of London with royal Westminster.  Up to the reign of King Henry VIII (1509-1547 ) the area was the home of high life,  royalty, courtiers and great monasteries. and we will explore the remnants of  royal palaces, monasteries and the homes of great nobles, one of whom give the clock shown above to a Fleet Street church.  But the area deteriorated as the population increased and the Thames became more polluted; by the 1800s much of it was slums; we will see how the poor people lived cheek by jowl in crowed courts and find Sweeney Todd's barber shop.

From the mid 1500s to the mid 1900s Fleet Street was the home of most of our newspapers, with their links to high life and their 'gutter press' appetite for stories about low life.  Authors like William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens (the illustration above is from A Tale of Two Cities), and more recently in the Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown lived in or set their work in the the area.  

We start at 2pm on Tuesdays and 11am on Thursdays meeting at the City Information Centre in St Paul's Churchyard.  The walk is led by Susan Gane when advertised here, and a qualified City Guide at other times.  It will last one and half to two hours and end at Temple underground station;  the cost is 7 per person, 6 concessions, with accompanied children under twelve free of charge.