A couple of weeks ago I spotted a tweet from Best LDN Walks advertising a free, blogger walking tour around London.
That would have been interesting enough for me to sign up anyway but as an extra bonus, the tour they were on about is titled Naughty London – Sex, Drugs and Sausage Rolls*.
Intrigued? Yeah, so was I!
We met up with the lovely Charlotte (owner, director and all-round awesome boss-lady of Best LDN Walks) at the Heeltap Bar in Southwark.
Prosecco and sausage rolls from The Ginger Pig (delicious by the way) made for a great reception, and after handing out flyers and rubber wristbands, off we went!
Our first stop was Borough Market where Charlotte enthusiastically filled us in on all the gruesome parts of South-of-the-River London in the Tudor era.
I don’t want to tell you too much cos that would ruin the whole point of the walk, but let me just say that prostitution, excessive drinking, misbehaving royals and rotting-human-meat-in-pies featured strongly!
We also learnt the super interesting original meanings of popular words and sayings: “One for the road“, “f***” (which I already knew and accidentally stole Charlotte’s thunder with – sorry!) and “dirt poor” were good ones, but our absolute favourite was definitely “hangover“.
You’ll have to go on the walk to find out what all the meanings were!
At £10 I think the walks are an absolute steal. I’m definitely already looking at several of Charlotte’s other walks.
I’ve got my eye on the Instagram London Photo Walk, the Royal London – Tarts and Tiaras (which Charlotte mentioned yesterday and sounds like an absolute blast) and the Haunted Pub Tour.
Stay classy, Erica.
Oh. Wait. Hang on…
OK. Yes. Well. Let’s just carry on shall we?
We wandered down Southwark street, snapping photos and soaking up Charlotte’s tidbits of historical information. She’s so funny and enthusiastic and knows such a lot about all the scandals of Tudor London!
Our next stop was the Cross Bones prostitutes graveyard on Redcross Street.
Such an interesting spot. It’s an unconsecrated graveyard where prostitutes who worked South of the River (known collectively as the ‘Winchester Geese’ because they were licensed by the Bishop of Winchester to work outside the City of London) were thrown in a huge common grave.
It was closed in the 1800s but people still visit and leave tributes at the gates. There are so many ribbons and flowers and little trinkets attached to the railings, it’s actually very touching and I really enjoyed seeing and learning about this part.
I’d walked past it several times before and never really understood what it was!
Opposite the graveyard is an old wine-bar/pub called the Boot and Flogger. We all got stuck into the bottles of prosecco and introduced ourselves properly.
It was so lovely getting to know so many bloggers of different subjects!
We then headed down towards Southwark Bridge, overlooking the river, where Charlotte spoke a bit more about the bridges.
Did you know that London Bridge was the very first bridge to cross the Thames, and that it used to have houses on it?? Yep, people actually used to live ON the bridge!
After the Great Fire of London (when it burnt down), the people of the city took control of the tollbooth and the money that was raised from those tolls helped build many of the other newer bridges in London. Even today, it helps maintain and improve them.
I thought that was a really fascinating fact, that money from so so long ago can still have influence on our lives today!
See this door?
Right next to this door is a teeny-tiny alleyway where a cardinal once got caught with his pants down.
Our final stop off was at Bridget Jones’ pub. You may also recognise it as the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban film (my inner/outer geek loved that!).
And that was that! A glorious evening filled with laughter, prosecco and historical debauchery.
I really can’t recommend Best LDN Walks enough. London is such a fabulous city, with so much colourful history and fantastic characters, but so many city tours skip all these tiny interesting details to focus on the boring big picture.
For me, history comes alive by learning about individuals. By hearing how they ate, seeing where they lived and feeling connected to their excessive gin and wine consumption (I like that bit).
And I think that’s what makes this tour so incredibly good. It’s gritty and real, with no polishing. And I LOVE that about it.
What do you think? Is a walking city tour your kind of thing? I’d never done one before and I’d definitely consider doing them more in the future, especially when I travel to other countries.
*This Best LDN Walking tour was free of charge specifically for bloggers, on this one night. As ever, this hasn’t affected my review :)