The bustling city of London is notorious for its skyline, featuring such landmarks as The Shard, London Eye, Somerset House and many more. But, I bet you’ve never explored its hidden streets, tucked away pubs or ghost stories of the past. Well, recently Leoni and I were invited to take part in an experience that would give us a different perspective of the city and learn a thing or two about its intriguing history.
First agenda of the day was meeting our bubbly tour guide, Jess, outside Temple Tube Station. He was easy to spot with his bright blue tour jacket and matching flag (great when you’re making your way through the crowds of London), then we set off towards out first stop.
Our first stop was on Strand Lane, outside some baths believed to be from the Roman era. However, this has been disputed over the years. It’s hard to think they are Roman Baths as the area of London the Romans invaded was actually miles away… suspicious. Turns out, they were branded as Roman Baths as an advertising gimmick and were actually a portion of a cistern built in 1612 to feed a fountain nearby, oops!
We moved onto our next stop which was an abandoned underground station. Jess filled us in on stories of how the underground was used in the war as a bomb shelter and they’d play live music to entertain people throughout the raids. We don’t want to ruin all the stops on the tour before you go out and enjoy it for yourselves, so we’ll move on to the last stop…..
Jess’ story begins on Fleet Street about a particularly infamous barber you may have heard of – Sweeney Todd. The ‘demon barber’ would entice customers in for a haircut and shave; then slit their throats. The story gets worse as he would then give the bodies to Mrs Lovett for her pies in the shop next door. Whether this story is fiction or a true story, it’s up to you to decide!
Thanks again to Fun London Tours and Jess for inviting us on the tour. We have certainly learnt about a different side to London! This tour is the ideal gift for a history fan, whether they are a London local or planning a trip to the city, you’ll be taken to hidden gems the city has to offer, rich with history and culture.
Looking for something fun to do in London
? Well look no further! Matt is a qualified guide lecturer who offers a variety of fun unique tours around London. We caught up with him to find out a little bit more about what he has to offer.
So Matt tell us, what differentiates your tours from others offered in London?
My tours are all completely unique, lovingly crafted by myself and often focus on the more unusual aspects of London’s past and present. I’ve tried to ensure my walks are informative, but not dry, entertaining, but with a purpose and depth. I’m a qualified City of London and City of Westminster guide lecturer ,which hopefully means that I have a wealth of knowledge and a degree of expertise to fall back on. But I also have a playful nature which ensures the tours are fun. Importantly, I limit my group size to ensure more of a personal experience.
And would you say that your tours are catered towards a particular audience?
The tours are catered for just about everyone. Even walking around some of the more famous sites there are so many surprises and of course if you take a more quirky tour – like our Hidden London walk – you will be seeing things which very few people have taken the time to notice. So my tours are catered to the curious, open minded, people who like stories and history, Londoners and tourists alike. Maybe not surprisingly I do have a fair few couples and families on my tours.
So your tours are catered for everyone and anyone, that’s great! What would you say people enjoy most about your tours?
One of the most common exclamations on one of my walks was “I’ve never noticed that before!” This sense of discovery is really exciting for a lot of people, and of course everyone likes to hear a story about something unusual or scandalous. The tours can often be reasonably sociable, or a good chance to catch up with old friends. And of course learning about one’s own heritage and understanding the city around us is extremely satisfying.
Which of your tours would you say are the most popular?
Currently the most popular tour I lead is to see the Changing of the Guard. It’s a lot of fun for tourists and Londoners alike as it involves people in the ceremony in a unique way by moving around from place to place, with history, anecdotes and even some marching!
For people who know London a bit better, my more quirky tours are very popular. Secret London is full of surprising facts and features, while the Liar Liar tour
is completely unique in London in that it focuses on interactivity, competition and separating fact from fiction.
You’re clearly very passionate about tour guiding, have you always felt this way?
Yes! I’ve been guiding for over 4 years now and have loved it from day one. What is there not to enjoy? I walk around with curious people who genuinely seem to appreciate having their eyes opened to the amazing city around them. I not only lead tours, but also design them, which is immensely satisfying, as I’m constantly learning and deepening my historical knowledge of London.
Finally do you have anything you would like to add? Tell new/potential customers?
Of course – come on one of my walking tours once and you may be hooked!
They sound fantastic, we would definitely love to give it a go! Thanks very much for speaking with us Matt!
A walking tour is surely one of the best ways to experience everything London has to offer. These tours make a perfect London day out for visitors and locals alike looking to get a more unusual insight into London and its history!
Follow the links below to find details on Matt's fantastic, quirky tours:
Liar Liar tour of London
Forgotten tour of London