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Samuel Pepys: a Private Tour

Embark on a journey through time with our Samuel Pepys Tour and discover the man behind the diary.
90 mins linear walk
Not step-free
Private walking tour

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Upon your exit from Tower Hill underground station, you’ll embark on an adventure that will take you through the life and times of Samuel Pepys, one of the most famous diarists in history.

Our first stop is Tower Hill, with its imposing Tower of London, the oldest royal palace in Europe. It’s best known as a place of imprisonment and execution, having held notable captives like Pepys himself, who was accused of ‘Piracy, Popery and Treachery’ in 1679, and even an exotic resident – Crowly the lion, a quirky gift from Pepys to the Tower’s menagerie.

Our journey continues to All Hallows by the Tower, the city’s oldest church. Known as “Barking” in Pepys’ diaries, this resilient structure survived the Great Fire, which Pepys famously observed from its tower, the devastation forever immortalised in his written accounts.

Next, we approach Trinity House. Established by a Royal Charter from Henry VIII in 1514, this institution was a guiding light, literally. It regulated pilotage on the Thames and introduced beacons and lighthouses. Pepys served as an “Elder Brother” here for 17 years, holding the title of Master twice.

We then move on to the tranquil Seething Lane Gardens, the former site of Pepys’ house and Naval office. Here, amidst the greenery, he penned his world-renowned diaries. Spot the carvings on the paving stones, each narrating a unique aspect of Pepys’ life or historical events.

Our stroll takes us to St. Olave Hart Street, Pepys’ local church, which cradles the remains of Pepys and his wife, Elizabeth. It miraculously escaped the Great Fire but bore the brunt of World War II bombings. Listen out for the haunting strains of “London Bridge is Burning Down”, a song linked to its namesake, St Olave.

As we wander down the streets, we stumble upon a pub, the Hung Drawn and Quartered, formerly the offices of Christ’s Hospital. This establishment, standing likely where Pepys’ favourite Dolphin tavern once did, invokes grim memories of a brutal death sentence for treason – one witnessed and recounted by Pepys in his diary.

Finally, we arrive at the tranquil St Dunstans-in-the-East Garden, nestled within the ruins of a once-grand church. A testament to resilience, the church, rebuilt after the Great Fire by Wren, did not rise again after the Blitz. Pepys once worshipped here and experienced a few adventures of his own, providing perfect fodder for his diaries. This enchanting site, now a favourite haunt for photographers, is our last stop.

Join us on this unforgettable journey through time, and walk in the footsteps of the illustrious Samuel Pepys, experiencing the city of London as he did centuries ago. We hope you’ve brought comfortable shoes and a keen spirit of curiosity. Let’s get stepping into history!

Your Guide: Susan Baker

Qualified London Tour Guides

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


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