Camden Guides Newsletter of Walks and Events – October 2023

Welcome to our newsletter of walks and events run by Camden Guides for October, and the following months.

Firstly a reminder of a free event that is taking place TODAY:

Local London Guiding Day – From Steam Engines to Search Engines

Camden Guides are taking part in Local London Guiding Day and our walk will explore and contrast the rich history and the new developments in this diverse zone. Learn about the 19th century engineers, architects and builders who shaped the area. Hear the stories behind the Victorian bricks and find out about new innovations in travel, art, commerce and recreation within today’s high-tech buildings.

Meeting point: In front of King’s Cross railway station, under the clock, facing Euston Road, N1 9AL, Walks takes place on the hour, every hour, with the first at 10am and the last walk at 4pm.

We hope to see you at one of today’s walks.

Now for the walks that are planned for the next couple of months. A range of walks that explore very different subjects and locations, including, as the evenings continue to get darker, some twilight walks.

The Beggar’s Opera – Lives of the Poor in Seven Dials

This walk through the central neighbourhood of St Giles uncovers a history of Londoners who weren’t famous, well-educated or well-heeled. You’ll see where poorer folks lived and worked, and hear how the middle classes considered them sub-human and dangerous, calling them vagrants, ragamuffins and street arabs living in rookeries, Thieves’ Kitchens and Little Sodom. You’ll hear how they first spied on the poor and then went ‘slumming’ in their neighbourhoods, gawking at dosshouses where the poor could spend the night hanging over a rope or lying in a coffin. John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera, which opened in 1728 at Lincoln’s Inn Fields Theatre, made fun of the idea that the upper classes were more moral and human than the poor. You’ll see buildings set up to ‘rescue’ the poor from their misery – but were they always so miserable? This tour looks at middle-class prejudices and attempts to improve things that often punished the objects of their charity.

The walk take place on  Sunday the 15th of October 2023 and can be booked at this link.

A Green Thread

A walk with Maggie Coates of Camden Tour Guides Association.

From one of London’s top ten trees in a garden square to the efforts of local residents, there is a huge variety of plant life in Bloomsbury. From community gardens to manicured lawns, all forms of gardening experience are found here. We will explore how these green spaces were developed and the stories of those who lived nearby and used them. Beginning with the rural landscape of 400 years ago, the vision of a haven for children, formal gardens popular in the 17th century with fashionable society (and a convenient venue for duelling) and the transformation of a graveyard have all had an effect on the gardens we see today.

Part of the Bloomsbury Festival 2023, and the walk is on Thursday 19th October 2023, 11.00am, and can be booked at this link.

The Haunted History of Holborn and Bloomsbury – a twilight walk

Join Jeffrey and Elena on a twilight walk on The Dark Side of the Bloom…

If there is any truth in the theory that certain places can be charged with the energy, personalities, and violent emotions of those who have lived and died there, then Bloomsbury and Holborn have an abundance of locations where the barriers between the past and the present, the living and the dead, are just a little thinner than elsewhere.
Join us in walking these shadowy streets, and hear the histories of haunted hospitals, uncanny universities, and scandalous societies, all located amongst the elegant Georgian terraces of Bloomsbury. We will uncover long forgotten ghost stations and atmospheric pubs, before moving on through the leafy, lugubrious squares of Holborn.
We hope you will join us on The Dark Side of the Bloom.

Start outside Euston Square underground station (Gower Street side) and finish near Holborn underground station.

The walk takes place on Saturday the 28th of October at 5pm, and can be booked at this link.

Garden of eternal rest: twilight walk of St. Pancras Old Church graveyard

In the Christian calendar, the second of November is All Souls Day, or the Day of the Dead in many cultures. According to tradition, on this day the heavens open, and departed souls briefly return to earth. It’s the perfect day for a walk celebrating the lives of the many illustrious people who were buried in the haunting surrounds of St. Pancras Old Church.
Join Elena Paolini, an accredited Camden Tour Guide and local resident, on a twilight walking tour starting at St Pancras Old Church, with a fascinating history that goes back 1500 years.
We will uncover many hidden stories – sometimes tragic, sometimes romantic, sometimes almost unbelievable: we will hear about resurrectionists going “fishing”, discover the truth behind the myth of the legendary Hardy tree and learn how the two most famous horror characters of all times are inextricably linked to this place.
We will meet famous writers, genius architects, WW2 most unlikely hero and even a gender-fluid 18th century spy. By unearthing their stories, we will bring them back to life on this very special evening of the year.

The walk takes place on the 2nd of November at 4pm and can be booked at this link.

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 the 5th of November 2023 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 2nd December 2023 and can be booked at this link.

We hope that you will find something of interest in the above and look forward to seeing you on a future walk.

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