Located near the Crescent Hotel, the Bloomsbury Walking tour begins in the heart of the area and finishes at St. Paul’s Cathedral. The walk will take approximately 90 minutes, from start to finish. However, the walk will take you past many of London’s famous museums, medical institutions, landmarks, architecture and many other points of interest. You’ll find it easy to spend the whole day exploring what London has to offer before even reaching the Cathedral.
The starting point of this tour is at Russell Square Station, which is within close proximity to the Crescent Hotel and can be reached on foot within 10 minutes. The tour is approximately four miles long and should take around 90 minutes.
Located just a short distance from Russell Square Tube Station, you’ll start the tour at Coram’s Fields. This was once the site of the Foundling Hospital which closed in 1954. Here, you’ll find a nice open green space with a play park and the fascinating Foundling Museum.
Standing outside the main gate of Coram’s Fields, you’ll see a statue of a woman holding an urn on the opposite side of the road. This statue signals the beginning of Lamb’s Conduit Street. Hundreds of years ago the street was a tributary of the River Fleet. This tributary was built by William Lamb who was also well-known for providing water urns to impoverished women – hence the name and statue in his honour.
If you’re already feeling thirsty, there are plenty of pubs near Russell Square, such as the Lamb or the Perseverance to quench your thirst before moving on.
To continue the walking tour, you’ll want to head down Guildford Place/Lamb’s Conduit Street and take the second left onto Rugby Street.
Immediately on your left, as you turn onto Rugby Street, the literary fans among you will see the home of famous American poet, Sylvia Plath who lived at 18 Rugby Street in the 1960s. The next stage of the tour means you will want to continue down Rugby Street and turn left onto Millman Street. Then take a right once you reach Guildford Street.
Exiting Guildford Street and turning right onto Doughty Street will be like stepping back through time. You’ll see row upon row of splendid Georgian houses. It’s no wonder then that Charles Dickens lived at No. 48 where he wrote “Oliver Twist” and “Nicholas Nickelby” on the premises. Now, you can really take a step back through time and visit the Dickens Museum in former house, just as it would be when he was alive.
Proceed along Doughty Street, onto John Street and eventually, you will find your next stage of the tour.
At the end of John Street and directly ahead of you will be Gray’s Inn Gardens, one of the famous squares in London. Gray’s Inn is one of four legal Inns of Court with the others being Lincoln’s Inn, Inner Temple and Middle Temple. Anyone who wishes to be “called to the bar” (become a barrister) must join one of these Inns. The greenspace of Gray’s Inn was originally designed by famous philosopher and statesmen, Sir Francis Bacon, where he also lived for many years.
An interesting fact: Charles Dickens worked here in his younger years and his experiences here were reflected in his novel “The Pickwick Papers”.
Once you are ready to move on, head onto Bedford Row and then an immediate left onto Brownlow Street. Next, you’ll want to turn right onto High Holborn.
As you walk along Holborn Road, you will want to turn right down a narrow alley called Great Turnstile. This will take you to another long-standing institution of the legal profession and another legal Inn of Court: Lincoln’s Inn – London’s oldest legal Inn, dating back to the 15th Century.
Taking a stroll around of one London’s largest squares will delight those who enjoy classic architecture and an area steeped in history. Be sure to visit Sir John Soane’s Museum too.
Once you are ready to move on go to the South West corner of Lincoln’s Inn Fields and down Serle Street. Take a right onto Carey Street and then left onto Bell Yard.
At the end of Bell Yard, you’ll come to one of the oldest and most well-known parts of London. Here once stood the Western gate to the city, with the decapitated heads of traitors gruesomely displayed for all to see. Thankfully, today the ancient edge of London is marked with an impressive statue of a bronze griffin. You will also find white bollards with the colours of St George marking the border of the city of London
One of the earliest known churches to be consecrated in London, St Dunstan-in-the-West Church has seen and survived many great disasters. From the Great Fire of 1666 to the Blitz during World War Two, this grade-I listed building has had a fascinating history. Samuel Pepys attended this church on occasion, documenting (or should that be confessing?) his failed attempts at picking up girls during the services.
Continue down Fleet Street until you see the Olde Cheshire Cheese pub, another place that will make you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. Here, many notable people were regulars including Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Turn left down Wine Office Court and you’ll reach a small courtyard. Here you will find the house of Dr Samuel Johnson where he created the first even English Dictionary.
Once you’ve taken a look, double back to Fleet Street and turn left.
Take the next right onto Salisbury Court where you will find the inspiration for tiered wedding cakes, St. Bride’s Church or more specifically the spire which inspired a Fleet Street baker to create the tiered wedding cake. St. Brides church houses a museum within its crypt which is worth a look as ancient Roman ruins have been discovered on the site. The church is also dedicated to writers and journalists thanks to its close proximity to Fleet Street.
This is the final stop on the tour before you visit the magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral. You can’t miss it from here!