Camden Guides Newsletter of Walks and Events – November 2023

Welcome to our newsletter of walks and events. This month’s edition highlights the diversity of subjects covered by Camden Guides, everything from “London’s Sex Industry and the Stage in the Long 18th Century” to “Christmas in Hampstead Village”.

There is a walk in the coming months that will entertain and inform anyone with an interest in the history of Camden, starting with:

Slums and Squares and Rock n’Roll

You will probably know lots of bits of the St Giles’ area: Tottenham Court Rd tube, Centrepoint, Shaftesbury Ave, Seven Dials…but you probably don’t know how the area came to be as it is. A fascinating story of ancient roadways meeting, a medieval leper colony, a failed posh residential district, a notorious Victorian slum and the most unspoilt Georgian square in London. I would be delighted to help you explore all this (and see the street where Elton John worked as a tea boy and the Rolling Stones and Genesis recorded their earliest singles).

The walk takes place on Saturday 4th November and Saturday 16th of December, and can be booked at this link.

Diverse London – Bloomsbury Women in the 1920s

Discover visionary cultural and political thinkers of the 1920s in East Bloomsbury, such as Winifred Holtby, Dorothy L Sayers and the economist Eileen Power. We associate Bloomsbury women with Virginia Woolf, but there were many other influencers who came here, attracted by low rents, and cultural connectivity. Women in particular could live here independently, and develop new ideas for society following the Greet War. Annie Besant took up the cause of Indian independence. Cultural life in London became much more diverse with the addition of women’s voices, and professions such as the law became open to them for the first time.

The walk takes place on Saturday the 4th of November and can be booked here.

The Secret London Village of Primrose Hill

Primrose Hill is now one of London’s most desirable areas and home to Paddington Bear, but it was born with the noisy gritty railway. The neighbourhood shows industrial solutions by brilliant Victorian engineers and the hard labour of rough tough navvies who built them. Those workers were the first to live here, and a few of their houses remain. On this walk you’ll see railway-industry landmarks like the Eastern Portal of a great railway tunnel, as well as the pastel-painted streets and artists’ studios that came later, in one of which lives Paddington Bear. Primrose Hill cherishes its high street largely free of chain shops, and is proud of its mixed community. The walk follows a beautiful stretch of the Regent’s Canal, and from the top of the famous hill itself you have great views over London.

The walk takes place on Sunday 5th of November and can be booked at this link.

Beating the Bounds’ from King’s Cross to Farringdon

A historic walk winding either side of the border between Camden and Islington boroughs – also the route of the now-buried River Fleet. We will see signs of the river course, traces of wells and tributaries, seek out border markers and explore varied architecture from pretty Georgian houses to old warehouses and religious orders.

The walk takes place on Sunday the 12th of November and Wednesday the 19th of November and can be booked at this link.

Highgate Women: A Walking Tour

Join me for an exciting walking tour through Highgate Village, dedicated to celebrating the remarkable women who have left their mark on this historic neighbourhood. On Sunday, November 12, 2023, at 2:00 pm, we will gather at Pond Square, London, N6 6BS to explore how Highgate shaped its women as well as how it’s women shaped Highgate.

Discover the inspiring stories of the women who have shaped Highgate’s history, including scientists, business women, activists and creatives. Be prepared to be educated and entertained as the tour takes you through the picturesque streets and spaces, unveiling the hidden stories and achievements of these extraordinary individuals.

From renowned philanthropist Angela Burdett Coutts to royal mistress Nell Gwynn, this walk will shed light on the important contributions made by Highgate’s women throughout the years. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the beautiful surroundings and soak in the rich heritage of the area.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to delve into the captivating history of Highgate through the lens of its remarkable women. Lace up your walking shoes, bring your curiosity, and join me for an unforgettable experience!

The walk takes place on Sunday the 12th of November and can be booked at this link.

London’s Sex Industry and the Stage in the Long 18th Century

When the Puritan Protectorate ended in 1660, London’s sex industry grew wildly public and was linked to both theatres and the underworld. Charles II lifted the ban on theatre-going, and by 1700 London was sex-capital of Europe. This walk starts with the stage at a time when all actresses were assumed to be prostitutes and theatres a place for clients to find them. We pass through areas where street-walkers and bawdy houses were closely linked with playhouses. We hear about bawds who kept the houses and women who worked in them, including Edgworth Bess, Nell Gywn and Sally Salisbury. We hear about homosexual Molly Houses as well as Jelly Houses, Coffee Houses and Bagnios. Links between corrupt government officials and criminals formed the plot of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera in 1728, with its cast of thief-takers, highwaymen, pickpockets and sex workers who met in flash houses where they spoke a secret language. The unscrupulous Society for the Reform of Manners tried to close down vice, but things began to change when Social Reformers said women selling sex were victims needing rescue. The walk starts in Lincoln’s Inn Fields and passes through Covent Garden and surrounding streets like Drury Lane, where ordinary folks lived who sold sex – orange women, flower girls and patrons of dance halls. The underworld called this red-light area the Hundreds of Drury.

Laura Agustin has been an historian of prostitution and commercial sex for decades and brings an anthropological calm to the study of these currently hot topics.

The walk takes place on Saturday the 2nd of December and can be booked at this link.

Christmas in Hampstead Village

Join Elena Paolini for a historic but fun Christmas walk in charming Hampstead Village.

Did you know that the first Christmas card was designed by a Hampstead resident almost 200 years ago? And that the Victorian cookery writer who gave us the first recipe for a “Christmas pudding” is buried in Hampstead?

You will hear these Christmas-related stories and many more on this guided walk in charming Hampstead Village. As the sun sets and the twinkly lights begin to illuminate the cobbled lanes and quaint cottages, you will be transported to a bygone era, reminiscent of Charles Dickens’ timeless tales.

Hampstead Village is picture-perfect any time of the year, but it’s positively magical at Christmas. So grab yourself some mulled wine and join me for a festive stroll.

The walk takes place on Sunday the 3rd of December and can be booked at this link.

Edwardian Emporiums and Forgotten Factories: a history walk in Bloomsbury

Step back in time and stroll through the enchanting streets of Bloomsbury with our accredited guides Elena and Ellika. We will bring to life the forgotten stories of a bygone era as we explore the eclectic array of shops and factories that once populated this historic district. From quaint corner stores to opulent emporiums, discover the fascinating evolution of commerce in Bloomsbury in the Victorian and Edwardian eras and beyond.
As we meander through Bloomsbury’s crescents and mews, we’ll discover the remnants of old factories and workshops that once churned out beds, furniture, sweets, toys and an assortment of other wares, each a testament to the vibrant industries that thrived in this district often better known for its poets and artists. We’ll delve into the rise of the shopgirl and her pioneering role in transforming London’s retail landscape and women’s lives.
Join us for a journey through time in a neighbourhood where the echoes of commerce and craftsmanship linger in every brick and cobblestone.

The walk takes place on Sunday the 10th of December and can be booked at this link.

We hope that there is something of interest in the above list of walks. Our next newsletter will be on the first Saturday of December.

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