Previous slide
Next slide

Tale of Two Slums in St Giles Walk

Embark on a captivating walking tour through the enchanting backstreets of St Giles in the Fields, where the hidden secrets of The Rookery and Seven Dials slums await your discovery. As you meander from the bustling Tottenham Court Road to the tranquil sanctuary of Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden, your curious mind will be transported to the vivid world of Charles Dickens and the vibrant tapestry of Victorian working-class life.

Walks last 90 mins
Not step-free
Individual tickets £20

Book with confidence:

Embark on a captivating walking tour through the enchanting backstreets of St Giles in the Fields, where the hidden secrets of The Rookery and Seven Dials slums await your discovery. As you meander from the bustling Tottenham Court Road to the tranquil sanctuary of Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden, your curious mind will be transported to the vivid world of Charles Dickens and the vibrant tapestry of Victorian working-class life.

Your knowledgeable guide will breathe life into Dickens’ descriptions, vividly recounting the harrowing conditions endured by the impoverished denizens of The Rookery and Seven Dials. Immerse yourself in the tales of resilience and determination as you learn about the remarkable stories of the brave women of the Endell Street Military Hospital. Marvel at architectural marvels along the way, including the iconic St. Giles church, the majestic Resurrection Gate, the contemporary Renzo Piano St. Giles building, and the humble nineteenth-century school house repurposed as a haven for St. Mungo’s charity, aiding the homeless.

Witness the astounding transformation of the Seven Dials area, once plagued by slums and warehouses, now blossoming into a vibrant and eclectic shopping district reminiscent of Barcelona, with Neal’s Yard serving as its crowning jewel. Your mind will be brimming with tales of both benevolence and adversity, as you delve into the lives of those who shaped and left their indelible mark on this ever-evolving landscape.

Your journey commences at Tin Pan Alley, where you will be introduced to the musical heritage of the 1800s, the vibrant music scene of the 1960s, and witness the fascinating transformation that has occurred in recent years. Explore the historic St Giles in the Fields Church and the adjacent Resurrection Gate, steeped in the legacies of Queen Mathilda, the leprosy hospital, and the poignant history of public executions. Marvel at the architectural prowess of Renzo Piano’s building, while unravelling the secrets of its predecessor during the 1950s and Victorian era.

Continue your exploration through Betterton Street, a window into the notorious Rookery with its infamous reputation, teeming with Irish navvies and evoking vivid imagery from Dickens’ “Sketches of Boz.” Learn about the middle-class fear of disease and robbery, exemplified by the infamous Rat’s Castle in Ivy Street. Delve into the rich history of the Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, an architectural gem designed by Peto, with a deep-rooted commitment to serving the poor, evident even today with its soup kitchen.

As you reach the magnificent Endell Street St. Giles National School building, a neo-gothic masterpiece designed by Edward Middleton Barry, witness the transformation of slum children’s lives and how it has been repurposed as St. Mungo’s, offering refuge and sustenance through its basement soup kitchen. Discover the awe-inspiring story of the Endell Street military hospital, run entirely by women during World War I, a groundbreaking moment in women’s medical history, marking the end of the war and a profound shift in societal norms.

Pause at Thomas Neal’s sign and Seven Dials market, where the echoes of a bygone era resonate through the remnants of breweries, warehouses, and the once-declining slum area. Unearth the fascinating history of Seven Dials and Thomas Neal, tracing the footsteps of Dickens’ walks and the crafty escape routes for thieves through the maze of pubs. Conclude your journey in Neal’s Yard, an enchanting enclave born from the visionary mind of Nicolas Saunders, tracing its development from the 1970s to the vibrant present.

At the end of this enthralling walking tour, your mind will be brimming with vivid stories of triumph, hardship, and the indomitable spirit of those who shaped London’s landscape. With each step, you will have forged a deeper connection to the past and a newfound appreciation for the rich tapestry of history that resides in the backstreets of St Giles in the Fields.

Your Guide: Sylvia McNamara

Qualified London Tour Guides

Blue Badge Tour Guide
City of London Tour Guide Badge
City of Westminster Guide
Clerkenwell & Islington Guide
Camden Tour Guides Association

All Upcoming Guided Walks

Scroll to Top